Essay on Piety

Topics: Euthyphro, Piety, Logic Pages: 3 (955 words) Published: October 24, 2012
In Euthyphro, Plato juxtaposes the predicaments of Socrates and Euthyphro to delve deep into the issues of ethics and justice. On the one hand, Socrates has been indicted for corrupting the youth and ungodliness. On the other hand, Euthyphro has willingly decided to prosecute his father—the equivalent of committing blasphemy—for the crime of murdering a servant. Perplexed by Euthyphro’s decision, Socrates remarks that Euthyphro must have expert wisdom of divine law to take such actions against his own father. Subsequently, Socrates insists that Euthyphro teach him a lesson in piety; he believes that learning Euthyphro’s unquestionable knowledge of piety could help him get acquitted in his trial against Meletus. Through their interaction, Euthyphro presents Socrates with four distinct definitions of piety. Nevertheless, Socrates identifies flaws in each potential definition Euthyphro offers him.

Based on Euthyphro’s boast, Socrates asks Euthyphro to provide him with an essentialist definition of piety. Nevertheless, the first definition Euthyphro proposes to Socrates is ostensive—it uses examples to differentiate between acts that are pious and impious. Euthyphro explains that “the pious [action] is to do what [he is] doing now, to prosecute the wrongdoer…not to prosecute [would be] impious” (5d-e). In this context, Euthyphro insists that prosecuting his father would be justified. Although Athenian culture condemns patricide, Euthyphro argues that justice should not be sacrificed for the sanctity of family bonds. He references the story of Zeus to further validate his argument. Even though Athenian men consider Zeus to be the “best” and “most righteous” of the gods, they admit that he committed patricide by imprisoning his father (Kronos)” (6a). Subsequently, Euthyphro believes it would be hypocritical for Athens to criticize him for upholding the Gods’ standards. Even so, Socrates is not satisfied with Euthyphro’s argument. Socrates asserts...
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