Defining Holiness

Topics: Question, Euthyphro, Plato, Good and evil, Evil, Logic / Pages: 5 (1206 words) / Published: Dec 21st, 2013
Philosophy has tried to answer all kinds of questions throughout history. Some of these questions seem to have no answer that would satisfy the mind of a philosopher. The argument presented by Socrates to Euthyphro is no different. The conversation begins on the porch of the King Archon, where Socrates is being accused by Meletus of being impetus or unholy. These accusations arose because Socrates has questioned the beliefs of the people of Athens pertaining to their gods. In the introduction we are introduced to Euthyphro, a young man who has accused his father of murder. This strikes Socrates as significantly interesting and as a result an interesting and long debated conversation transpires and is recorded by Socrates student; Plato. The main topic of this debate is the definition of holiness. Socrates is being accused of being unholy and if found guilty he will be put to death. So Socrates is in pursuit of a greater understanding of what is holy. Euthyphro claims he is knowledgeable of things that are holy, so Socrates seeks his instruction and asks to be his disciple. Euthyphro will soon find out that he is not as knowledgeable as he originally thought.
It seems as though Euthyphro has several definitions of piety. Euthyphro explains to Socrates that, “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” (Plato, nd). Socrates response to this claim is simple. He argues that if the gods of their culture cannot agree upon things that are holy, then what the people of his time claim to be holy, can also be called into question.“They have differences of opinion, as you say, about good and evil, just and unjust, honorable and dishonorable” (Plato, nd). Socrates then asks Euthyphro to define what piety is rather than simply give examples of what is pious or impious.



References: Plato, & Jowett, B. (n.d.). Euthyphro. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1642

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