Ethics and Moral Reasoning: PHI 208
The concept of holiness emerges into the dialogue when Socrates is trying to find out how to address the gods in a proper way. He is also trying to find out the definition of piety and impiety from the gods point of view. The reason for this is so that the man, Meletus, who feels that he is bring justified charges against Socrates to the gods, because he is bringing charges against his father of murder. Meletus feels that Socrates is being impiety or impious to his father in not showing him respect for what he has done. Socrates feels that he is justified in the charges because his father was wrong in not providing the serf with provisions until just could be properly done. In Socrates eyes, his father committed murder, and should be tried for his wrong doings. Piety is doing as I am doing: that is to say, prosecuting anyone who is guilty of murder, sacrilege, or of any similar crime—whether he be your father or mother, or whoever he may be—that makes no difference; and not to prosecute them is impiety. The next definition, ‘Piety is that which is lived of the gods,’ is shipwrecked on a refined distinction between the state and the act, corresponding respectively to the adjective and the participle, or rather perhaps to the participle and the verb. The third and last definition, ‘Piety is a part of justice’ and “Piety is what is dear to the gods, and impiety is what is not dear to them.’ Socrates hardly sees the first explanation as a true definition. The second appears to him as to be part of justice which attends to the gods, as there is the other part of justice which attends to men. Piety or holiness is preceded by the act of being pious, not by the act of being loves; and therefore piety and the state of being loved are different. Euthyphro is simply saying that piety and holiness is learning how to please the...