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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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He says, “the pious is to do what I am doing now, to prosecute the wrongdoer, be it about murder or temple robbery or anything else, whether the wrongdoer is your father ot your mother or anyone else. Socrates wonders what the gods could possibly need from men.

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

You are commenting using your Twitter account. They compare the relationship of the gods to man to the relationship between master and slave. To look at it differently, Socrates thinks a definition of X captures the essence of X: 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. Socrates plants this seed early, and then uses it to deflect this second definition.

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Euthyphro takes the second option: Euthyphro seems so sure that his deeds are correct and pious. Either the gods recognize pious things and love 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 grune pious.


This, then, begins the heart of the dialogue–a rigorous discussion about what piety and impiety are. A definition of X explains why instances of X are X. Thus his answer to the follow-up question seems to amount to saying gruhe gods love pious things because the gods love them, which is circular and nonsensical.

One god might think an action just, while another might declare it unjust. The gods might love piety, but that does not mean everything the gods love is pious.

He does this, however, to note how the action is caught up with what the actor is doing: At this point Euthyphro gets frustrated. Notify me of new comments via email. 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?

Turning your father in who committed murder is pious because piety is turning your father in if he does wrong. Besides the central philosophical issues, Plato displays many literary chops in his dialogues. Thus, to define piety as being loved by the gods is to explain piety by saying pious things are pious because the gods love them.

Euthyphro tries euthjphro justify his first definition by turning to mythology and talking about how Zeus whom he calls the best and most just of the gods punished his own father, Kronos, for his indiscretions.


Thanks for sharing your insights on the Euthyphro dilemma. How is a burnt offering something the gods need? He wants the Essence of piety, its form. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Socrates asks him if he believes in all euthyyphro myths about the wars between the gods, which he answers with an affirmative.

You are commenting using your WordPress. Secondly, he is challenging the justifications of Euthyphro, a youth of Athens, for turning against his father.

Euthyphro – Wikiquote

So it looks like we are faced with a dilemma: 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.

Euthyphro claims piety is meant to preserve social order. 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. 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.