"Meno" and "mencius:" Two philosophical dramas

Philosophy East and West 53 (3):367-398 (2003)
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The conversations between Meno and Socrates and between Mencius and King Xuan are philosophical dramas whose "plots" are intellectual arguments. Although both texts present historical characters at particular times in their lives, the texts were written some years after the events they describe by disciples of Socrates and Mencius. The authors had a number of motives: they wanted to represent what the characters thought and said, to explain the philosophical theories underlying the dramatic plots, and to justify the failure of their mentors to teach something very important. Meno did not learn how to live a good life. Xuan did not become a sage king. It is argued here that while both dramas end in failure, Socrates leaves the conversation confidently optimistic about the future. The conversation between Mencius and Xuan, on the other hand, has deeply tragic overtones



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Marthe Chandler
DePauw University

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