Euthyphro has given but one example, and even though he defended his statement by mentioning that certain of the Greek gods have acted in a similar manner, Socrates insists that a proper definition of piety must be sufficient to include all instances of that virtue. It has sometimes been maintained that the true purpose of philosophy is not to answer questions but rather to question the answers that have been given.
Would you agree that when you do something pious you make some one of the gods better? This is because Euthyphro never makes it to the stage of being puzzled by his own inability to articulate the ideal to which he is committed.
Euthyphro, as a kind of preacher and expert on the gods, is by trade supposed to be an authority on piety. Is this also true of the gods? Will you accuse me of being the Daedalus who makes them walk away, not perceiving that there is another and far greater artist than Daedalus who makes them go round in a circle, and he is yourself; for the argument, as you will perceive, comes round to the same point.
And what gets approved of by the gods in turn determines what is approved of by the gods. Instead, his role is that of the inquirer, and his purpose is to get people to think for themselves.
Insofar as he is asked to recognise that the definition fails to express his understanding of the definiendum, he is asked to make a self-reflexive turn and thereby attend to the knowledge that he experiences himself as possessing.
If Euthyphro were offered a definition of piety as a kind of service to the gods aimed at producing virtue, he would accept it. But, Socrates points out, to say that holiness is gratifying the gods is similar to saying that holiness is what is approved of by the gods, which lands us back in our previous conundrum.
Clear and correct thinking is bound to expose the errors upon which popular conceptions are often based.
This kind of charge has frequently been made concerning philosophers, and it is for this reason that action has often been taken against them. What do you say? What should I be good for without it?
In other words, did the piety of the acts come first and make the gods love them, or did the gods love come first and make the acts pious? I will develop this thesis in four stages.
This is, in any case, clearly implied at the end of the above-mentioned ad hominem exchange. Euthyphro sets himself up as an authority on piety by confidently claiming to know that he is being pious in prosecuting his father for murder in a controversial case.
If he could find out, he tells Euthyphro, then he could go to his own trial and show his accusers that they should not prosecute him for impiety because he would then know what piety is and would act accordingly.
It would be absolutely unreasonable for him to conclude that he does not know what piety is when he rejects his own definitions because they fail to capture what he thinks he knows. But there is not always reverence where there is fear; for fear is a more extended notion, and reverence is a part of fear, just as the odd is a part of number, and number is a more extended notion than the odd.
The gods love pious acts because they are pious. After the failure of the definition of piety as what all the gods love, Euthyphro becomes exasperated.
The hypothesis of irony interpretation suggests an explanation. But, Socrates points out, to say that holiness is gratifying the gods is similar to saying that holiness is what is approved of by the gods, which lands us back in our previous conundrum.
Human beings cannot know virtue in any absolute and permanent sense cf. But inasmuch as Socrates does not believe that Euthyphro is capable of offering a satisfactory definition of piety, his irony interpretation is itself ironic.
He keeps twisting and changing shape in order to avoid answering.
And if he does think that there is a common link, why does he not reveal it to us in the dialogue? For surely neither God nor man will ever venture to say that the doer of injustice is not to be punished?
He asks Euthyphro instead to give him a general definition that identifies that one feature that all holy deeds share in common. It consists of pointing out the inconsistencies and self-contradictions involved in popular statements made without thinking about their logical implications.
It is also riddled with Socratic irony:Socratic Method in the Euthyphro can be fruitfully analysed as a method of irony interpretation. Socrates' method – the irony of irony interpretation – is to pretend that Euthyphro is an ironist in order to transform him into a self-ironist.
1. Socratic irony and ignorance 2. Critical cross-examination and logical refutation (elenchus) 3. Induction (epagōgē) and universal definition (eidos) C. Socratic Irony: 1. Generally, Socrates’ declared interpretation of the Delphic pronouncement, that he was the wisest man, as merely meaning that he realized he was ignorant whereas others lacked insight into their ignorance.
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Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. Socrates wonders what Euthyphro means by "looking after the gods." Surely, the gods are omnipotent, and don't need us to look after them or help them in any way. Euthyphro's final suggestion is that holiness is a kind of trading with the gods, where we give them sacrifices and they grant our prayers.
This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Euthyphro by Plato. Euthyphro is a work by Plato written in the form of a dialogue between Plato’s teacher, Socrates, and a man named Euthyphro.
The purpose of the work is to examine and define the meaning of piety or holiness.Download