Alex Katz

Ancient Greek Reading Group: Plato’s Meno and the Problem of Knowledge

Instructor: Bruce King
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

“Can you tell me, Sokrates, is human excellence something teachable? Or, if not teachable, is it something that is acquired by training? Or if it cannot be gained either by training or by learning, does it accrue to men at birth or in some other way?” From this first set of questions, Plato’s Meno opens up into an exploration of teaching, of learning, and of the dynamic between the two. How do we come to be secure in our knowledge? Is it possible to seek what we do not know? Is there a difference between “true belief” and knowledge? The dialogue itself is a bravura display of both Sokratic dialectic and Sokratic mythmaking (in the famous “myth of recollection”). Along the way, Plato presents a scathing critique of sophists and their aristocratic clientele; and out of the wreckage of that critique, we see the figure of the Sokratic philosopher emerge.

In this continuing reading course, we will closely read Plato’s Meno in the original ancient Greek. New students are welcome to join at the beginning of each eight-week period. We’ll devote attention to  central components and qualities of Plato’s diction: word choice and semantic range, word order and hyperbaton, use of discourse particles, “comic” and colloquial speech, as well as use of more “literary” registers. Throughout, we’ll ask how Plato’s unique diction facilitates the making of dialogic form and of philosophical thought. Reading the Meno will also offer us a chance to review, as necessary, the morphology and syntax of Attic prose. Our course is intended for students who have recently completed a grammar course and for those who once studied ancient Greek and are now looking for an opportunity to return to it. The course is capped at eight students.

Course Schedule

Thursday, 4:00-6:00pm ET
August 01 — September 19, 2024
8 weeks


Registration Open