Euthyphro – Plato

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On his way to his trial, Socrates runs into his friend Euthyphro, there to prosecute his own father for the murder of a slave. From this state of affairs, Socrates engages Euthyphro in a dialogue that begins with questions regarding piousness and ends up unsatisfactorily attempting to come to a true answer. In the course of this discussion, definitions of concept of holiness emerge, only to be picked apart by Socrates. Ultimately, Socrates’ goal is a new definition of piety and subtle rejection of the very idea of gods, paving the way for Plato’s defense of his wrongly accused teacher. Socrates is shocked to learn that Euthyphro is prosecuting his own father. Euthyphro defends his actions, believing that it is just to do so even though his acquaintances maintain that “it is impious for a son to prosecute his father for murder” (Plato, 8). Quickly, Socrates gets to the heart of the matter. Euthyphro is positive in his belief, therefore Socrates asks him directly: “what is the pious, and what the impious?” (9). Euthyphro’s first definition of piety is simple: “the pious is to do what I am doing now, to prosecute the wrongdoer” (9). Socrates is quick to show Euthyphro that such an explanation is but an example. “I did not bid you tell me on or tow the many pious actions but that form itself that makes all pious actions pious” (10). This lies at the heart of Plato’s philosophy: that all things have an ideal form, and that one can gain knowledge of that form through examination. The argument being refined, Euthyphro delivers his second definition: “what is dear to the gods is pious, what is not is impious” (11). Socrates points out that “different gods consider different things to be just,” noting how in Greek mythology, the gods are as quarrelsome and fickle as human beings. “Try to show me a clear sign that all the gods definitely believe this action to be right,” Socrates demands (13). Euthyphro cannot, and so Socrates presses him to further refine his definition....
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