Meno: Well then, Socrates, virtue, as I take it, is when he, who desires the honorable, is able to provide it for himself; so the poet says, and I say too—
‘Virtue is the desire of things honorable and the power of attaining them.’
Socrates: And does he who desires the honorable also desire the good?
Socrates: Then are there some who desire the evil and others who desire the good? Do not all men, my dear sir, desire good?
Meno: I think not.
Socrates: There are some who desire evil?
Socrates: Do you mean that they think the evils which they desire, to be good; or do they know that they are evil and yet desire them?
Meno: Both, I think.
Socrates: And do you really imagine, Meno, that a man knows evils to be evils and desires them notwithstanding?
Meno: Certainly I do.
Socrates: And desire is of possession?
Meno: Yes, of possession.
Socrates: And does he think that the evils will do good to him who possesses them, or does he know that they will do him harm?
Meno: There are some who think that the evils will do them good, and others who know that they will do them harm.
Socrates: And, in your opinion, do those who think that they will do them good know that they are evils?
Meno: Certainly not.
Socrates: Is it not obvious that those who are ignorant of their nature do not desire them; but they desire what they suppose to be goods although they are really evils; and if they are mistaken and suppose the evils to be good they really desire goods?
Meno: Yes, in that case.
Socrates: Well, and do those who, as you say, desire evils, and think that evils are hurtful to the possessor of them, know that they will be hurt by them?
Meno: They must know it.
Socrates: And must they not suppose that those who are hurt are miserable in proportion to the hurt which is inflicted upon them?
Meno: How can it be otherwise?
Socrates: But are not the miserable ill-fated?
Meno: Yes, indeed.
Socrates: And does any one desire to be miserable and ill-fated?
Meno: I should say not, Socrates.
Socrates: But if there is no one who desires to be miserable, there is no one, Meno, who desires evil; for what is misery but the desire and possession of evil?
Meno: That appears to be the truth, Socrates, and I admit that nobody desires evil.