Persuasion Versus Reason

Persuasion Versus Reason

The Meno opens with a question, "Can virtue be taught, or is it innate, or learned by practice, or what?" This dialogue is an attempt to answer the question posed, and because no one would either ask or answer such a question nowadays (due to fear of prosecution since virtue is inexplicably linked to liberalism and hence politics), it was only by such an effort in Grecian times that one could aptly distinguish between virtue and types of virtues such as valor, patience and the like. Even after achieving a slight comprehension of this concept, a further effort to tackle the teachableness of virtue was needed before one could adequately resolve the question1.

In this paper however, we will not be diving into the concept of virtue and its possible impartations per say, but instead will be looking at virtue as a means of being successful in life. Virtue took an important place in the lives of the Greeks – it was philosophy and politics to them2 – and can be used to achieve success in life, here defined as the flourishing of human endeavor. Human endeavor can be referred to as material wealth, cognitive abilities, knowledge, ethics, intellect etc. Therefore to possess virtue was to possess the potential to be highly successful in life with regard to the physical and emotional well being of an individual, regardless of his origin.

With reference to Meno's question, platonic followers would naturally argue that successful people are those who can reason their way through with solid content and argument pointers. Conversely, followers of modern philosopher Dale Carnegie would say that successful people are those who are persuasive and charismatic enough to charm their audience into believing what they say – this way they earn respect as well as gain favor with their audience, who are the ones who rake in income for them! Whether or not any of these are better arguments than the other will be the focal point of this paper.

Reason is defined as the...

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