Euthyphro’s Divine Moral Dilemma

Topics: Euthyphro, Morality, Religion Pages: 4 (1371 words) Published: December 8, 2008
“There is nothing divine about morality; it is a purely human affair” (Albert Einstein, circa. 1954). Einstein’s rigid views of morality echo Plato’s criticisms found in the dialogue Euthyphro (Moral Philosophy, Selected Readings: Second Edition). Plato speaking as his long-time mentor Socrates attempts to coerce a true definition of the word pious from the central character Euthyphro in order to help him better understand his predicament. The two men meet outside the king-archon’s court as they await hearings on varying grievances; Euthyphro is prosecuting his father on the grounds of allowing a man to die by his inaction, as Socrates is being indicted for making innovations in religious matters. Euthyphro recounts the events to Socrates noting that the victim was a worker employed by his father, one evening the man got intoxicated and “killed a household slave in a drunken anger” (Plato, 168). Euthyphro’s father proceeded to bind the man and throw him in a ditch, as he awaited enlightenment on the situation from a priest the man subsequently dies from malnourishment and neglect. Meletus accuses that Socrates is corrupting the minds of the youth of Athena by “creating new gods while not believing in the old gods” (Plato, 167). As the two men discuss their respective situations Socrates draws a parallel between their predicaments, the relation between piousness and godliness. Socrates intentionally acts naive posing as an adoring pupil, as he attempts to inspire a universal truth for the meaning of pious from the perspicacious Euthyphro. Euthyphro and Socrates are both in agreement that what may be pleasing to one god may not be pleasing to another, as the gods are in discord over subjects such as the just, the ugly, the beautiful, the good and the bad. Euthyphro first reasons to Socrates that by prosecuting his father he is acting with piety, thus a specific action may be deemed pious. Socrates quickly rejects this as a definitive meaning of the term obliging...
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