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Piety in Socrates and Euthyphro’s Dialogue Essay

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Updated: Aug 31st, 2021

Why does Socrates think Euthyphro must know piety?

Socrates accentuates the importance of understanding piety for Euthyphro because he is in a controversial situation, and he must see the difference between the piety, good, and justice. According to Socrates, to receive the right to prosecute the father “for murder on behalf of a servant”, Euthyphro first needs to have a clear knowledge of this concept (Plato 15d). If a person knows what piety and impiety are, he or she can be discussed as right and pious before the gods. Still, there is a question of justice and morality of actions to be discussed as right before the men (Allen 24).

What sort of answer is Socrates looking for?

Euthyphro’s first definition of piety is that “the pious is to do what I am doing now, to prosecute the wrongdoer” (Plato 5e). However, Socrates tries to oppose this idea because he needs to demonstrate that not all actions can be discussed as pious. Socrates helps Euthyphro understand that the definition of piety is rather complex, but he also expects to hear the morally right definition or a model, according to which it is possible to divide actions into pious and impious (Farness 89). In this context, Euthyphro’s definition lacks details and criteria to state the personal, as well as objective, the vision of piety more clearly.

What is Euthyphro’s second definition of piety, and what is Socrates’ primary objection to it?

Euthyphro’s second proposed definition of piety is that “what is dear to the gods is pious”, and he is sure that this definition is appropriate (Plato 7a). However, Socrates does not agree with this position, and he presents the objection to the second definition while stating that different gods prefer and hate various things, and actions regarded by gods as preferable or pious are considered oppositely by other gods (Hardwig 260). Therefore, things that can be viewed as dear for particular gods cannot be discussed as equally dear for other gods (Evans 2). As a result, it is difficult to state what actions are pious and dear because of differences in visions.

What point does Socrates make about carrying and being carried, seeing and being seen, and loving and being loved?

Socrates proposes simple rules for discussing things that can be seen and carried as well as loved. Anything can be seen only because it is being seen by others, and anything can be carried only because it is being carried out by people (Murphy and Weber 188). Thus, according to Socrates, there is always a need for someone who can affect anything to change it. The same is true for loving and being loved because Socrates states that “it is something loved because it is being loved by them”; therefore, something is loved. After all, it has features to be loved by people or gods (Plato 10c).

Why does Socrates think that the god-beloved is not the same as the pious and the pious is not the same as the god-beloved?

Socrates claims that the god-loved cannot be discussed the same as the pious because different gods can love people for different actions that can be impious (Murphy and Weber 188). Also, the pious is not the same as the god-loved because of different standards in gods (Plato 10d). Therefore, being just loved by gods does not mean that a person is pious; furthermore, being pious cannot mean being god-loved, as it is important to learn what gods can prefer or love (Hardwig 260). Different gods can love and punish for the same things; as a result, the idea of piety becomes unclear.

Works Cited

Allen, Reginald. Plato’s Euthyphro and the Earlier Theory of Forms: A Re-interpretation of the Republic. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Evans, Matthew. “Lessons from Euthyphro 10–11.” Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 42.1 (2012): 1-12. Print.

Farness, Jay. Missing Socrates: Problems of Plato’s Writing. New York: Penn State Press, 2010. Print.

Hardwig, John. “Socrates’ Conception of Piety.” Teaching Philosophy 30.3 (2007): 259-268. Print.

Murphy, Tim and Ralph Weber. “Confucianizing Socrates and Socratizing Confucius: On Comparing Analects 13:18 and the Euthyphro.” Philosophy East and West 60.2 (2010): 187-206. Print.

Plato. The Final Days of Socrates: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito and Phaedo. New York: Cosimo, Inc., 2011. Print.

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