Is “Meno’s Paradox” Really a Paradox?

I do not believe that “Meno’s Paradox” is truly a paradox. When he says that you cannot find out about something that you know about because you already know it, he is completely wrong. One reason why this is wrong is because we are human beings, and we will never know everything about one thing. Many times, the subjects that we want to know about are too broad. For example, we can want to know everything about math, or everything about a person, but that can never happen because the information is simply too much for our brains to handle. Another reason why we will never know everything is because knowledge is relative. One person can think that knowing everything about Obama does not include knowing how many pieces of hair he has on his head, while another person thinks that knowing everything about Obama does include knowing that. Finally, we will never know everything about a specific subject or topic because knowledge is not static; it is dynamic. What is thought to be true and knowledgeable now can change in the future. New discoveries on different subjects are made everyday, some of which are proven true or false. Let’s say a person really did know everything about math. If they are on their deathbed, and five seconds before they die a new mathematical discovery is approved as being true and knowledgeable, then that person died not knowing everything about math. Another example is if you want to focus only on knowing what Bill eats for lunch every Wednesday. If Bill has eaten a chicken salad sandwich every Wednesday for the past ten years, then you will think that you know what Bill eats for lunch every Wednesday. But what if Bill decides that he wants to try the tuna salad sandwich one Wednesday and decides that since he likes it so much, he will eat that sandwich from then on instead of the chicken sandwich? Then your knowledge of what Bill likes to eat for lunch every Wednesday will have to change.

Meno also believes that you can’t find out about something that you do not know about because you do not even know what it is you are trying to find out about, and he is wrong in this case as well. For one thing, this statement is bogus, because if you are trying to find out about something, then you already know what you want to find out about. Also, you can find out about something that you previously knew nothing about. What people have to do is look at how they obtained information about something that they knew nothing about in the past. You could have asked someone who you thought was knowledgeable on the subject, or you could have gone to the library and gotten a book on what you want to know about. You would do the same when you are trying to learn about new things- either ask a person or read a book or look for answers on the internet. Of course, there are always questions that people ask that not a single person has any knowledge on. This is when I refer to my saying that knowledge is dynamic. You could do research- whether it is looking at different books on topics that relate to that subject or getting opinions from people that know some things on that subject- and come up with an answer on your own. This is what people did in the past, and it is what people will continue to do in the future. Of course, people that come behind you will test your discovery that supposedly adds new knowledge, and it will either become approved or rejected by the masses.

2 responses to “Is “Meno’s Paradox” Really a Paradox?

  1. Jasmine, I really enjoy the claim you made in the first paragraph to disagree with Meno’s Paradox, saying, “…this is wrong is because we are human beings, and we will never know everything about one thing”. Knowledge usually being seen as something very objective, you seem to suggest that “knowledge” varies from person to person. I feel that the problem is similar to that in Meno, though, where the reason different forms of “knowledge” exist because lack of defining what exactly constitutes “knowledge”.

  2. I also agree with your opening argument that “we will never know everything about one thing.” I think it’s good to point out that there is a realm of further unknown within a subject humans feel knowledgeable about and I liked your examples of the mathematician and Bill’s lunch to convey this idea.
    I am a little confused about your statement “because if you are trying to find out about something, then you already know what you want to find out about.” If you are talking about “something” more concrete such as what 2+2 is equal to then I completely agree. However, if by “something,” you mean a more abstract idea such as trying to find out what else there is to know about atoms, for example, then I feel that although you know you are looking for something, you are still unaware of just what that “something” is. Other than that minor ambiguity, I really agree with the points made in your post.

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