Socrates versus Meno

Dialogue 1

Meno and Socrates © AES 2012

Meno: Is this art Socrates?

Socrates: What do you think?

Meno: No. Its not art. But I wanted your opinion, not mine.

Socrates: You are playing games with me Meno. But very well, let us consider “what is art”. A sculpture of the human form – is that art?

Meno: Yes it is.

Socrates: What of the person who made it? Is one who produces a sculpture of the human form an artist, or are they not an artist?

Meno: They would obviously have to be an artist, Socrates.

Socrates: What of a drawing Meno? If the same artist were to draw their picture instead of sculpt it, would they cease to be an artist?

Meno: By Zeus, no. They would continue to be an artist.

Socrates: So the artist is an artist by virtue of the things that they create? Let me put it another way. You can have art without the artist, but you cannot have the artist without the art, do you agree?

Meno: I suppose (yawn)

Socrates: So, what an artist produces, as in when they create things – that is art?

Meno: Yes.

Socrates: So the drawing in this instance would have to be art since it was created by an artist, whose product is art and whose subject matter, the human form, is also art.

Meno: So you think it is art Socrates?

Socrates: What do you think?

Meno: Dammit, give me a straight answer.

Socrates: Define straight. Is it that which ceases to turn or does the turn cease to be straight?

Meno: What has that got to do with art?

Socrates: Define art.

Meno: No! YOU define art!

Socrates: Again, you are wise and cunning Meno, forever playing games to catch me out. You wish for me to both address the question and answer it for you.

Meno: But you haven’t told me if you think it’s art!

Socrates: That is because I do not know what I do not know.

Meno: You mean to say that you don’t know art?

Socrates: Define knowing.

Meno: …..maybe later, Socrates. I have to talk to someone over there now.

Socrates: Who?

Meno: Just someone.

Socrates: Do not give up now Meno, for I am afraid there is no one else who can examine art with me who is as wise and knowledgeable as you. If you leave now, you will do me a great injustice.

Meno: Piss off Socrates.

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