University of Cambridge > > Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology occasional seminars > Beacon Salon # 15 Meno, by Plato: Can Excellence be Taught?

Beacon Salon # 15 Meno, by Plato: Can Excellence be Taught?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Eric Rees.

The seminars are open to all, and research students at CEB and MedImmune are especially invited to attend. The talks will be about 30-45 minutes long, and questions are encouraged which open up new avenues for discussion. Tea and biscuits will be provided.

In Greek philosophy, ‘virtue’ or ‘excellence’ is an underlying trait which leads some people to achieve success in life. The question of whether this excellence can be taught is still very important to us, at university, today – because an essential reason for studying (or teaching) a university degree course is precisely the belief that we can be trained in excellence, not just in some specific technical skills but more general ‘transferrable’ excellence. Anyone who has ever spent a day (and, presumably, some money) attending a management or leadership skills course will probably have wondered to themselves whether there was any point to it. Is there actually a way to learn excellence, or is the whole business a waste of time? This timeless question is addressed by the legendary Greek Philosopher, Plato, in a story featuring the protagonist Socrates, and his less brilliant friend, Meno.

For anyone who wishes to skim Plato’s Meno in advance, my somewhat fanciful audiobook version of the dialogue is available for free on Youtube.

My audiobook version:

This talk is part of the Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology occasional seminars series.

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