Socrates meets Euthyphro at the courthouse.

Socrates meets Euthyphro at the courthouse in Athens when both of them are there for preliminary hearings of different kinds. Socrates is there because he faces charges of being impetuous to Meletus and corrupting the youth of Athens while Euthyohros is there to convict his father for the crime of murdering a servant. Socrates wonders how a man can come to prosecute own father. He reasons that there must be a reason, at least in part. Thus, the tests Euthyphro and suggest to him playfully that he really must be adept in religious matters if he is willing to convict his father. Euthyphro states that indeed, religion is known to him and that he is holy. Socrates goads Euthyphro to instruct him on the ways of righteousness so that he too can understand what piety is, and use the understanding in his case. He asks Euthyphro a question, ‘what is piety’ to which Euthyphro give several answers. Based on the responses given, the question of morality versus religion is brought up. Socrates dismisses all the questions with arguments of his own, and thus we can see why Euthyphro answers are continuously rejected and why they are in essence wrong.

Euthyphro’s first answer as to what is piety is the actions that had brought him to the court in the first place, the prosecution of his father. Euthyphro’s argues that his father, having killed the servant, is deemed a religious offender. Thus, the act of persecuting him is pious since he pleases the gods by punishing his father. However, Socrates considered the answer as insufficient, stating that he required the answer as to what being pious means and not the act of being pious. Socrates answer is logical, as Euthyphro did not define what piety is, but instead gave examples of pious actions; thus, he did not answer the question altogether. Also, Euthyphro’s had no way of possibly interpreting what the gods had in mind. The power to decide who is guilty of judgement should then be left to the gods, who would know what is wrong or right. Stating that the power to decide wrong and right is placing oneself into the position of a god. Is the act of punishing others pious and allowable in the eyes of the gods to whom we are so inclined to punish people?

The next answer Euthyphro’s gave what pleased the gods, must, in turn, be pious. He continued to argue that the definition of piety, lies in the hand of the gods. Socrates turned down his answer. His argument for dismissing the second answer is that the gods too cannot agree on what pious actions are. Righteous acts that are sufficient to one God may be insufficient to another god. What is good to one God is bad to the other God. Socrates argument was based on the fact that if the gods themselves could not agree on what is good or bad, then what is dear to them? What is the real definition of pious then? I agree with the reasoning behind Socrates argument, in that God cannot be the determinant of good and evil. My reasoning behind the argument is that if the gods themselves, having achieved deity status, cannot agree on what is good and what is bad, who are humans then to come and impose to them a definition of what is good and bad.

In an attempt to correct his second definition Euthyphro’s offers his third definition. He states that “what all the gods love is pious, and what they all hate is impious”. Socrates is quick to refute the answer; he gives an answer that possesses a question that puts Euthyphro’s at a dilemma that would later be called the Euthyphro dilemma. The question asks whether the pious is loved by the pious because it is pious or does something become pious because the gods love it. The question takes Euthyphro aback. It is at this question that forms the basis of dialogue. Socrates proves himself to be a masterful manipulator and turns the table, thus showing that he is indeed the teacher in the interaction and not the student that he had first posed to be. For this question, Socrates argues that the gods do not love the righteousness itself, but they love the action behind the piety. So if for instance, a person helps their neighbours, then the act of helping the neighbour becomes the actions that the gods love. Therefore, the gods do not, in fact, love piety, but instead, they love the action behind the piety. As a result, the piety, cannot be defined by the argument Euthyphro’s made because then it is unclear. Therefore, based on these arguments, pious arguments are, in reality, flawed.

In his fourth definition, Euthyphro’s stated that piousness was, in fact, part of the justice that that was concerned in taking care of the goads. He seemingly was alluding to the act of sacrifice to the gods. In Euthyphro’s eyes, a person who can sacrifice himself in the care of the gods deserved to be called genuinely pious. The sacrifices would please the deities and as such, make the person pleasant to the gods. However, Socrates smart mind gave an answer that confused Euthyphro. In his argument, Socrates stated that the idea of taking care is unclear. He noted that anything worth being taken care of could have their nature altered, but who would be able to change the gods, all-powerful deities who ruled the ancients? The obvious answer is that no one can take care of the gods; none can even change them. Therefore, what goal do we hope to share with powerful beings beyond our control?

In his final attempts to answer Socrates question, Euthyphro gave his final argument that the act of sacrifice to the gods is what makes a person pious. Therefore, according to him, that act of piety if offering gifts to the gods and expecting a favour in return. However, Socrates posed a fundamental question to Euthyphro, what would the gods seek from the gifts of humans. Socrates essentially bound him with this question as to the answer he gave concluded that the likes of deities are what determined what piety is. By posing such questions, Socrates ultimately made Euthyphro contemplate the true definition of piety. Euthyphro’s had gone to the courtroom looking to be pious, but had left not sure if he was really pious thanks to the brilliant Socrates.

The passage possess many fundamental questions on what the act of being pious in which Socrates awaits for Euthyphro’s clarification of the subject matter and .

He wants Euthyphro to be clear and distinctive with his reverence to God. To Socrates, Euthyphro is too ambiguous in his explanation. I believe Euthyphro’s reverence for the gods was his own belief system that was probably instilled in him as a little boy. Euthyphro followed his traditional understanding. A system of understanding into religion and belief that was based on his scholarly education. However, did he truly know what being pious meant, or was he just going with the flow and doing what he had learned to do?

Also, the passage brings into question the role of deities. Pious and Impious in more of the concerns of deities. If gods are God, what do they really seek? Gods tend to seek according to passage, gratification and glory. But why should God seek anything at all when they themselves are in fury amongst each other. So how can a man please any God? Does any man even have the capacity to please God in the first place? According to Euthyphro, if Gods see that one is agreeable then they are pious. Therefore the concern arises if Gods are holy. And if Gods are holy, why do they have anger. And more so if holiness and Gods should belong in the same category?

In conclusion, the whole Euthyphro dilemma was in essence a brilliant confrontation between a man who had gone to show his piousness by convicting his father of a crime, and another person who did not really believe in the concept of piousness and was facing conviction due to the same. From his understanding, we can see that Socrates indeed brilliant man who had a proper grasp of many philosophies. By posing the what is question, Socrates is able to refute many answers that are gives by Euthyphro’s, proving that the answers that Euthyphro gives are in fact wrong based on his inability to logically answer the questions posed by Socrates on the true meaning of being pious.

 


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