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Protagoras and Meno (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 25, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0140449037 ISBN-10: 0140449035

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (April 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449037
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

As the father of Western philosophy, who transformed Greek thought with his questioning insights into life and ethics, Socrates (470-399 bc) was a powerful inspiration - and major irritant - to the Athenians of his day. After his trial and execution on charges of heresy and the corruption of young minds, his greatest pupil Plato (c. 427-347 bc) wrote a series of dialogues as an act of homage. Lesley Brown is Centenary Fellow in Philosophy at Somerville College, Oxford, and the author of numerous articles and book chapters on Plato and Aristotle.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I've tried reading stilted translations of Plato's texts and they have felt like breaking rocks.
L. tallah
Don't get me wrong, Plato is certainly interesting to read, as is this book, but sometimes people get caught up in the history and ignore the philosophy.
Paul
Protagoras is the most famous sophist in Greece but Socrates is sceptical as to what a sophist can achieve.
Andrea Simpson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By L. tallah on December 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am not a philosopher but who says only philosophers can read Plato's texts and come out with an understanding of what he is up to? Thanks to Adam Beresford's translation of the Protagoras and Meno, I can ask this question now. I've tried reading stilted translations of Plato's texts and they have felt like breaking rocks. I've wondered of those translations if they are in English at all. Reading Beresford's translation was a joy to my imagination and mind. I can now ask myself what being good is and find a way to engage this concept in my own life in a way that I couldn't when being good is translated in many texts as a virtue. In a way Beresford has taken philosophy back to where it belongs, to the butcher, farmer, storekeeper, beekeeper, taxi driver and to an African woman like me. I do not want to sound like his translation is only aimed at the common person. His translation is layered and is apt to be read both by experts in the academy and people like me. This is a new vision, a new way to translate Plato and to bring it back to where Socrates would recognize, to the common person. L.T.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Simpson on November 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
When I saw that I had been assigned Plato I have to confess I worried if the book might be a bit too dry and heavy for my tastes. I was therefore pleasantly surprised at the accessible, readable and indeed rather enjoyable nature of Protagoras and Meno.

The two dialogues are concerned with the nature of being 'good'. A central theme is the question of whether virtue (or 'being good') is something that can be taught. In both dialogues the central figure is Socrates. He is engaged in debates with the two eponymous figures Protagoras and Meno.

Protagoras is the most famous sophist in Greece but Socrates is sceptical as to what a sophist can achieve. Protagoras believes that the job of a sophist is to teach people how to be good. Socrates then sets out to show that virtue cannot be taught. This dialogue ends rather unsatisfactorily. Socrates cuts short the debate as both speakers had become confused -- arguing the opposite of what they originally intended.

The thoughts developed by Socrates in Protagoras are rounded off in Meno. Here, Socrates concludes that virtue is not teachable. This is because so many great sophists are unable to teach their own sons how to be good. As virtue is not teachable, nor can it be a form of wisdom.

Instead, Socrates contends that virtue comes when people are "inspired" -- it is "a gift of god". Earlier on, Socrates had brilliantly demonstrated that knowledge can be innate by leading one of Meno's slaves through a geometric puzzle without teaching anything.

As an economics graduate, I particularly appreciated the sections of the dialogues where Socrates contended that people do not set out to do bad things. It is easy to see how this Benthamite argument influenced J. S. Mill.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David T. on May 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The penguin edition was the first edition of Meno I've read, the other is the Hackett edition. Between the two the Penguin does seem easier to understand and has better sentence structure, but I don't know which is more accurate. One of the big differences between the two is the Penguin edition uses "Good" where as the Hackett uses "Virtue". This edition also contains way better footnotes.

Protagoras was my first introduction to Plato, but sadly I read it a while ago and I don't really remember much. The impression I got at the time was that Socrates sure likes to hear himself speak. The part I remember best is where Protagoras gives a half page reply to one of Socrates questions which causes Socrates to rant for 5 pages about how he's leaving if Protagoras can't answer his questions more direct with less words, oddly later on when Protagoras asks Socrates questions, most of his answers are far longer than Protagora's. In any case I definitely need to read this again.

I've recently read Meno again and it was pretty good, not the best Socrates dialogue but I did like it more on second readings. I think reading a few more of Plato's dialogues did cause me to like Socrates far more.

It was somewhat interesting, Socrates meets with Meno to discuss what virtue is and how can it be acquired. Meno seems to have some ideas but he comes in contact with a broad torpedo fish (Socrates) and this leaves him numb and in a state of perplexity, in the end we're not really sure what virtue is but we know a few things its not.

The thing this seems to be best remembered for a part where Socrates questions a slave to prove that souls already learned everything before inhabiting a human.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kelly on March 23, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This copy does have standard pagination and Stephanus numbers. Needed this for a class. Anyone else looking for these markings will find it in this copy for Meno and Protagoras. Shame on Amazon for not giving at least one sample page of the actual translation so customers would know this!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By William A. Percy on June 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Adam Beresford's wonderful new translation of these two Platonic dialogues from the middle period, Protagoras and Meno, struck me, because they captured better than any other translations I've ever read of any other dialogues, the campiness that is so essential to Plato's witty irony, and so often overlooked. I never realized how essential these asides were to his philosophy until I read Beresford's translation. Furthermore, the modern translation, colloquial and clear (and accurate!) makes difficult philosophical arguments - as for example, what makes a man good - easier to follow than translations past. Past translations have obfuscated some of these arguments and even at times rendered them unintelligible. Beresford's work clears up many of these problems.
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