“Since we consider knowledge to be something beautiful and honored, and one sort more so than another either on account of its precision or because it is about better and more wondrous things, on both these accounts we should with good reason rank the inquiry of the soul among the primary studies. And it seems that acquaintance with it contributes greatly toward all truth and especially toward the truth about nature, since the soul is in some way the governing source of living things. And we are seeking to bring to sight and to understanding the nature and thinghood of the soul, and then whatever follows about it, among which seem to be some attributes of the soul by itself, and others that belong to the living things, on account of the soul.” —Aristotle, On The Soul
Excerpt from Plato's Meno
- Meno: Somehow, Socrates, I think that what you say is right.
- Socrates: I think so too, Meno. I do not insist that my argument is right in all other respects, but I would contend at all costs in both word and deed as far as I could that we will be better men, braver and less idle, if we believe that one must search for the things one does not know, rather than if we believe that it is not possible to find out what we do not know and that we must not look for it.
- Meno: In this too I think you are right, Socrates.
- Socrates: Since we are of one mind that should seek to find out what one does not know, shall we try to find out together what virtue is?
- Meno: Certainly. But Socrates, I should be most pleased to investigate and hear your answer to my original question, whether we should try to find out on the assumption that virtue is something teachable, or is a natural gift, or in whatever way it comes to men.
“Have you persuaded yourself that there are knowledges and truths beyond your grasp, things that you simply cannot learn? Have you allowed adverse evidence to pile up and force you to conclude that you are not mathematical, not linguistic, not poetic, not scientific, not philosophical? If you have allowed this to happen, you have arbitrarily imposed limits on your intellectual freedom, and you have smothered the fires from which all other freedoms arise.” —Stringfellow Barr