Meno’s Geometric Argument

October 1, 2013 Geometric Argument: Are Souls truly immortal and know all? In the Meno, Socrates tries to walk Meno through the discovery of if virtue can be taught. Along the way they come across the theory that if virtue can be taught then it is knowledge. If knowledge then it can be taught but the Geometric argument was brought up where a person can have the capacity to learn based on their previous life and their soul conjuring up prior knowledge to understand the topic. Socrates called upon a slave, a person who has no formal education and walked him through a geometry problem.

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This problem was meant to illustrate that a person’s knowledge is not based on what this person has learned in their lifetime but their capacity and ability to understand is based on what their soul has learned in previous lifetimes. Socrates uses this example show his thesis is true but what about different scenarios that aren’t math based and through different problems you can see that Socrates theory is half correct and that there are several implications that prove that souls don’t know it all.

To fully understand the Geometric argument you must know that Socrates elieves that souls are immortal and before they inhabit a human’s body they were exposed to everything. In order for a human to learn something, all that person has to do is experience it during their lifetime. This means that everyone has the capacity to learn, they Just need to be taught. Socrates takes this example to explain to a slave how he can get a square with the area of eight with using squares with the area of four. Socrates walks the slave through the problem with Just questions and diagrams to show the slave what the slave has concluded.

The slave at first tries to double the ides of the square from two to four to get a square of area equal to eight. He walks into a problem and realizes himself that the area isn’t eight and actually concludes that the area of this square is 16. Socrates then questions the slave to conclude that the square of area eight must have sides bigger than two yet smaller than four so the slave guesses the square has sides of length three. The slave decides that the area is nine and is not eight so now the slave is perplexed.

Socrates explains to Meno that the slave is numb like a torpedo-fish which Meno accused Socrates to be earlier after hey were trying to solve the original problem of wether virtue can be taught or not. After stating this, Meno realizes that the slave is better off being perplexed and numb because now he is thinking about the geometric problem and trying to solve it on his own. Socrates still Just asking the slave questions about the geometric problem decides to continue. Now Socrates draws a square with the sides equal to four and area equal to 16.

He continues to draw diagonals inside the four-squares that make up the bigger square such that they create a square inside of an area of eight but doesn’t tell the lave that it is eight. He begins to question the slave to make the slave realize that it is indeed a square drawn and that its area is eight. By Just asking the slave questions, Socrates may have Just walked the slave through the problem but it was with the right questions asked and since Socrates knew the answer before it was that the slave was able to deduce with Just questions that there was a square that had an area of eight.

With Just the drawing of diagonals how was the slave able to determine that the area of this new square would be eight? This answer fits right into Socrates theory that souls are immortal and know everything before it inhabits the human’s body and to learn something, that human Just needs to stumble across the problem and thinking about it will drive the soul to recollect its memory and solve the problem on its own. This geometric problem proved several points with one example of how it can be true.

Meno earlier argues that a man can’t find out something that he doesn’t know because how will he know that it was truly solved if he doesn’t know what it looks like. The slave didn’t know what the square with an area of eight would look like but he new the right answer when he saw it. This could only be explained by Socrates theory of souls being immortal. The soul knew the correct answer and all the slave had to do was experience the difficulty of searching for the right answer but would he have been able to find the answer on his own.

Socrates would argue that with time then the slave would keep working on the problem and eventually stumble upon the answer on his own Just by drawing out the problem. The problem with the this geometric solution is that Socrates drew the answer for the slave. He didn’t teach him nything but without any formal education the slave was able to deduce that the drawing was the solution. We sort of know that if Socrates drew the wrong answer that the slave would be able to see that it is wrong because of the previous drawings of the squares with areas of 16 and nine.

This theory works as long as the man is perplexed to the point where all he wants to do is find the answer because he is stubborn. If man doesn’t keep working to find the solution, he won’t find it but with the soul knowing all if the man finds the right answer then he will know because of is soul. This means that if man continues to search for things he doesn’t know then he will find it because his soul knows all. Meno believed in Socrates immortal soul knowing all theory after the geometric problem but did Socrates prove it for everything.

That theory was math based and images helped the soul remember how to solve the problem but what if the man is seeking something that can’t be seen. The only reason that Socrates’ theory worked is because he created the perfect problem that Meno saw it reasonable to prove the heory correct but what if the question is proposed without the slave being questioned by Socrates. What if the slave is to find the answer on his own? There are things that a man needs to a guide to find the answer to the question he is looking for.

For instance, Socrates may not have taught the slave but he sure did lead the slave into finding the solution. The only thing that Socrates was truly right about his geometric problem was that the slave was better off being stumped that all men will be too. The hunger for knowledge will push men to search for what they don’t know. This method is particularly important in the science field. Man to this day is searching for how the world came to be.

According to Socrates theory, our souls know the answer and when we come across the answer it will surely be it and we continue to search because we know we haven’t found it. This push for knowledge explains technology like fire found by the caveman or even electricity conspired by Thomas answer. Applications of this theory that the soul knows all can explain many things. For instance, how man learned how to communicate with one another, or how animals new how to populate the Earth.

The only thing that truly continues to stump man is those who have mental disorders why can’t they seem to learn enough to function like someone without those disorders. If their soul has the capacity to know it all, why can’t they learn from others to be like those who don’t have these disorders. For the most part, Socrates immortal soul theory explains a lot the world. It explains why we can read and communicate and how we were able to create several things. It explains why we are able to find cures to diseases and solve difficult problems.

The only difference between two people and how smart they are, is the work effort. The only thing that kills his theory is why people with certain mental disorders can’t overcome their disabilities and learn how to be like someone who isn’t. We all know that try extremely hard to become “normal” but why can’t the soul being extremely wise advance through the barriers of that disorder? His theory works for those who can and do push themselves to learn. Maybe those who don’t have disorders are Just blessed by God to become wise and those who do must work harder to do so.

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