Volume 10, Issue 1, 2019
Epistemology’s Ancient Origins and New Developments
Meno’s Paradox is an Epistemic Regress Problem
I give an interpretation according to which Meno’s paradox is an epistemic regress problem. The paradox is an argument for skepticism assuming that (1) acquired knowledge about an object X requires prior knowledge about what X is and (2) any knowledge must be acquired. (1) is a principle about having reasons for knowledge and about the epistemic priority of knowledge about what X is . (1) and (2) jointly imply a regress-generating principle which implies that knowledge always requires an infinite sequence of known reasons. Plato’s response to the problem is to accept (1) but reject (2): some knowledge is innate. He argues from this to the conclusion that the soul is immortal. This argument can be understood as a response to an Eleatic problem about the possibility of coming into being that turns on a regress-generating causal principle analogous to the regress-generating principle presupposed by Meno’s paradox.