Socrates

The Euthyphro

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)

  1. First Definition: 5d "The holy is what I am doing: prosecuting ones father for an unrighteous act."

  2. Second Definition: 7a "What is pleasing to the gods is holy, and what is not pleasing to them is unholy."

  3. 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

  4. Fourth Definition: 12e The holy is that part of justice which has to do with religion

Conclusion: Euthyphro does not know what piety is (he subsequently drops the charges against his father)
| Back to the Notes Index |