Socrates on Piety
Introduction: Socrates and Euthyphro meet outside the court at Athens. Socrates has been called to meet the charges of Meletus and Euthyphro is bringing charges of murder against his father who has indirectly caused the death of one of their slaves. His father, Euthyphro says, is guilty of impiety: the same charge which is brought against Socrates. Socrates asks Euthyphro to teach him the nature of piety so that he might tell the court he is learning to avoid his error by accepting the wisdom of Euthyphro.
Axiom - there is one essential form to be found in all acts which are called holy, and likewise one form in all acts called unholy. 5d
(Is this consistent with the Socratic denial of knowledge and wisdom? 2c)
Conclusion: Euthyphro does not know what piety is (he subsequently drops the charges against his father)
- First Definition: 5d "The holy is what I am doing: prosecuting ones father for an unrighteous act."
- Premise 1: Zeus the just shackled his father 6a
- Premise 2: Cronus gelded his father Uranus
- Premise 3: These events actually happened 6b
- Response: These are examples of holiness, not the nature of holiness itself. The question was about the ideal holiness.
- Second Definition: 7a "What is pleasing to the gods is holy, and what is not pleasing to them is unholy."
- Response 1: holy and unholy are opposites 7b
- R 2: The gods disagree with one another
- R 3: The god's disagreement is over opposite things 7e
- R 4: The gods contradict one another 8a
- Third Definition: 9d The gods love what is holy, and they hate what is unholy
Question: Do the gods love holiness because it is holy, or is it holy because the gods love it? 10a
- R 1: Every effect has a distinct cause 10c
- R 2: The gods love the holy because it is holy 10d
- R 3: What is pleasing to the gods will be different from what is holy 10d
- Fourth Definition: 12e The holy is that part of justice which has to do with religion
- R 1: service and piety are caring for the gods 13b
- R 2: if piety is service to the gods, does it make them better? 13c
- R 3: service to the gods would be giving to them what they need 14d
- R 4: The service to the gods is what they want
- R 5: piety is what the gods desire 15b (the argument here arrives full circle)
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