The Mythical Introduction of Recollection in the Meno (81A5–E2)

Abstract
This essay explores the relevance of Socrates’ mythical introduction of recollection in the Meno. I argue that the passage at 81a5–e2 addresses different levels of understanding, a superficial and a deeper one, corresponding to a literal and a metaphorical reading respectively. The major themes addressed in this passage—the immortality of the soul, transmigration, rewards and punishments in the after-life, Hades, the kinship of all nature and anamnesis—have distinct meanings depending on whether we approach them with a Platonic or an Orphico-Pythagorean eye. The literal understanding is appealing to Meno and is offered in reply to his challenge in order to persuade him to continue the investigation of virtue. It is, however, the deeper sense that Plato’s Socrates intends for a more philosophically attuned audience
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