“The soul then being immortal, having been often born, having beheld the things which are here, the things which are in Hades, and all things, there is nothing of which she has not gained the knowledge. No wonder, therefore, that she is able to recollect, with regard to virtue as well as to other things, what formerly she knew”
Socrates, The Meno
The Trust is to run a week’s study on the Meno in Umbria, central Italy. The week will run from 3rd to 10th September: we will be guests of Etain and Martin who run a small farm called Pratale in the Umbrian hills between Gubbio and Perugia.
“Can you tell me, Socrates, is virtue (arete) teachable? Or can it not be acquired by teaching but practice? Or can it be acquired neither by practice or learning, but comes to humankind by nature or some other way? ”
A young but well educated man, Meno, approaches Socrates and asks whether it is possible to teach arete (virtue or excellence): his reply surprises Meno - “How can I say whether or not virtue can be taught, when I don’t know what it is?” And so begins an enquiry into this most important matter. What is virtue? Is there one excellence for all human beings, or are there different excellences for men and women, for masters and servants, for adults and children? How is excellence acquired? Why is it that some seem to possess it, but are unable to pass it on to their offspring? Soon the dialogue widens into further questions: How do we learn anything? What is human knowledge?
These and other questions will be explored over the week - not as mere abstractions but as having a real bearing upon us and how we live. In Plato’s examination of the cultivation of virtue, he draws in profound ideas about the journey of the soul within and beyond the terrestrial life, the nature of philosophic learning, and the art of dialectic - all of which threads we hope to follow in our search for wisdom and arete.
We ask for a donation to the Trust of £15 for the week to help with the Trust’s expenses; other than this small donation the fees of the week are only food and sundry costs - 20 euros per day inclusive, payable directly to our hosts while you are at Pratale. Pratale guests will find the accommodation is fairly basic, but the welcome is warm, the food (largely from the farm itself) delicious, and the surroundings beautiful. We will be joining in with the cooking and washing up duties: for more information about the farm and Etain and Martin’s approach to life on it, click here - Pratale.
For those who prefer 3-star accomodation, Etain and Martin’s nearest neighbour (about half a mile away) runs a fine Bed and Breakfast - we can pass on contact details on request.
For further details and booking please email the education co-ordinator: