Plato’s Euthyphro

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E: …they are harming the very heart of the city by attempting to wrong you. Tell me, what does he say you do to corrupt the young?… [S: creating new gods] …this is because you say that the divine sign keeps coming to you…knowing that such things are easily misrepresented to the crowd.

S: Athenians do not mind anyone they think clever, as long as he does not teach his own wisdom…


E:  It is ridiculous…to think that it makes any difference whether the victim is a stranger or a relative.

S: …you think that your knowledge of the divine, and of piety and impiety, is so accurate that, when those things happened as you say, you have no fear of having acted impiously…? …I should become your pupil.


S: What is the pious, and what the impious…?

5e First definition: prosecuting wrongdoers.

E: And observe…I can cite powerful evidence that the law is so…Zeus…bound his father because he unjustly swallowed his sons, and that he in turn castrated his father for similar reasons.

S: I find it hard to accept things like that being said about the gods, and it is likely to be the reason why I shall be told I do wrong…we ourselves have no knowledge of them…do you really believe these things are true?


S: …that form itself that makes all pious actions pious…


E’s second definition

E: …what is dear to the gods is pious, what is not is impious…


S: We have also stated that the gods are in a state of discord…what are the subjects of difference that cause hatred and anger?

Numbers, larger/smaller, heavier/lighter – how would we resolve differences?

Just/unjust, beautiful/ugly, good/bad?  – unable to come to a satisfactory decision…become hostile to each other…


S: Then…different gods consider different things to be just, beautiful, ugly, good, and bad, for they would not be at odds with one another unless they differed about these subjects, would they?


S: …and the same things would be both pious and impious…


S:  Come now…what proof you have that all the gods consider that man to have been killed unjustly…show me a clear sign that all the gods definitely belief…give me adequate proof…


E:  The pious is what all the gods love, and the opposite, what all the gods hate is impious.


Euthyphro’s Dilemma

S:  Is the pious being loved by the gods because it is pious, or it is pious because it is being loved by the gods?


Something carried and something carrying, Led/leading, seen/seeing, loved/loving…

Is a thing carried a carried thing because it is being carried? Thing led because being led, thing seen because being seen.

Thing pious being loved because it is pious? E: yes.


S: It is being loved because it is pious, but it is not pious because it is being loved? E: Of course.

S: Then god loved doesn’t mean pious.


S: See whether you think all that is pious is of necessity just…is then all that is just pious? Or is all that is pious just, but not all that is just pious, but some of it is and some is not? [draw Venn diagrams]

Fear and shame (shame is a part of fear because there is no shame without fear, but there is fear without shame), [dogs and Shih Tzus]


S: What part of the just is the pious?

E: The godly and pious is the part of the just that is concerned with the care of the gods, while that concerned with the care of men is the remaining part of justice…

S: What do you mean by care? Horse breeding care of horses, hunters/dogs, cattle raising/cattle?

Piety and godliness/gods?

Care: aims at the good, to benefit , and make better the object cared for: horses, dogs, cattle.

How do the gods benefit or become better?


E:  I don’t mean that kind of care…the kind of care that slaves take of their masters…

S: A kind of service to the gods…

Achievement of what goal service to doctors tends? – health, service to shipbuilders/ships, to housebuilders/houses…

To the achievement of what aim does service to the gods tend…what is that excellent aim that the gods achieve, using us as their servants? E: many fine things…

Generals/victory in war, farmers/food, gods?


E: If a man knows how to say and do what is pleasing to the gods at prayer and sacrifice…

S: Knowledge of how to give to and beg from the gods…what is this service?…trading skill between gods and men? What benefit do the gods derive from the gifts that they receive from us?

E: Honor, reverence, to please them…

S: So the pious is what is dear to the gods? Isn’t this the same as god loved?…

E: You’re the daedalus.

S: Uh…

E: Sorry, Socrates, I gotta go.

S: But I still don’t know what piety is…