While heading to court to answer charges of corrupting the youth, Socrates meets up with Euthyphro who is reporting his father for murder. Euthyphro, one of Plato’s early dialogues, has been variously dated from to BCE, shortly after the death of Socrates 4a-e, translated by G.M.A. Grube. Euthyphro first tries to explain to Socrates what piety and impiety are by . of Socrates, translated by G. M. A. Grube, Hackett Publishing ().

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So it looks like we are faced with a dilemma: The fourth definition of piety offered is that piety is the part of the just that is concerned with the care of the gods. Sadly, Plato brube the dialogue in a different direction rather than exploring that possibility. For why would we need the gods if things are pious and impious independently of them?

Now, Socrates thinks definitions explain the thing defined. One god might think an action just, while another might declare it unjust. Euthyphro takes the second option: He wants an unmovable truth. You are commenting using your Twitter account. At this point Euthyphro gets frustrated. He does this, however, to note how the action is caught up with what the actor is doing: Secondly, he is challenging the justifications of Euthyphro, a youth of Athens, for turning against his father.

He could have just written a straight-forward dialogue dealing with the nature of piety, but there is more to it than that.

By adding this context as part of the dialogue, Plato is setting up an ironic situation in order to reveal the ridiculousness of the charges.

As I read it, Euthyphro defines piety as the property of being loved by grubr the gods. While heading to court to answer charges of corrupting the youth, Socrates meets up with Euthyphro who is reporting his father for murder. Email required Address never made public. It confuses a characteristic of piety with its definition. But he asks Euthyphro about the order of explanation: He asks Euthyphro to teach him about what piety and impiety are, so that he can see for himself whether what Euthyphro is doing to his father is a pious act.


Either the gods recognize pious things and euthyphrro them because they are pious, or else the gods simply love whatever things they do, and it is because gods love these things that they are pious. Socrates plants this seed early, and then uses it to deflect this second definition. He points out that the gods not only fail to always agree with each other, but that their disagreements often revolve around seminal human issues such as what is just and unjust. Socrates notes that they have basically returned to an earlier definition that has since been rejected: Socrates complains that he did not ask for a list of the pious and impious things; he wanted to know what piety and impiety are.

Besides the central philosophical issues, Plato displays many literary chops in his dialogues. Moreover, defining “piety” as that which all the gods love is not getting us euhyphro closer to figuring out what piety is.

The Trial and Death of Socrates Plato ; Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Death Scene From Phaedo

Euthyphro never quite picks up on this thread that Socrates offers, but instead euyhyphro offers a fourth definition that gets closer, but still misses the mark. To see why he was frustrated, consider an analogous case: For if what is dear to the gods is pious and what is not dear to the gods is impiousand yet if the gods disagree and fight about what is dear to them, then it will turn out that one and euthtphro same action will be both pious and impious since it will be dear to some gods and not dear to others.

Earlier euthyphgo the dialogue 6c Socrates has confirmed that Euthyphro believes in the greeks gods and all of the stories about them–e. Thus his answer to the follow-up question seems to amount to saying the gods love pious things because the gods love them, which is circular and nonsensical.


That piety and impiety could be as willy-nilly as all this seems to run counter to euyhyphro initial intuitions about what piety is. To look at it differently, Socrates thinks a definition of X captures the essence of X: They compare the relationship of the gods to man to the relationship between master and slave. The gods might love piety, but that does not mean everything the gods love is pious.

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Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here My own objection would be that this is a bit of circular reasoning in that it defines the concept by the act he wants to justify as being pious in the first place. He asks of Euthyphro whether “the pious is loved by the gods because it is pious, or is something pious because it is loved by the gods?

For what the gods may love or not love seems to be as arbitrary as whether you like or dislike mint chocolate chip ice cream. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. Euthyphro claims piety is meant to preserve social order.

Socrates wants an unambiguous form of piety and impiety that never deviates. Socrates responds to this with an elaborate word-game noting the difference between the being who performs an action with the thing that is being acted upon.

Euthyphro by Plato (trans. G.M.A. Grube) | The Consolation of Reading

This is a summary of some of the points we covered in lecture. A definition of X explains why instances of X are X. Thanks for sharing your insights eufhyphro the Euthyphro dilemma. When Socrates attempts to get him to elaborate on that response, Euthyphro goes off track; he now states that piety is an exchange of needs between gods and men. By simply pointing out instances of beer is of very little help to you.