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Information about Euthyphro

Published on June 15, 2007

Author: Pravez


Euthyphro:  Euthyphro Philosophy 1 Spring, 2002 G. J. Mattey Socrates:  Socrates Born 469 BC Lived in Athens Married to Xanthippi Clashed with the Sophists Convicted of impiety and corrupting youth Died 399 BC The Beginnings of Philosophy:  The Beginnings of Philosophy Numerous philosophers sought to discover the arche, or first principle of all reality The Pythagoreans found it in numbers Some proposed material elements such as water, air, or fire Others proposed something more abstract, such as atoms, the One, or the Infinite The Sophists:  The Sophists The Sophists were contemporaries of Socrates They were professional teachers, primarily of public speaking They tended to emphasize success over virtuous behavior Protagoras held that truth is relative Socrates’s Contributions:  Socrates’s Contributions Turned philosophy to study of virtue Engaged in public philosophical debate rather than solitary contemplation Demanded a clear understanding of the concepts under discussion Persistently questioned every view, leading him to skepticism Virtue:  Virtue The concept of virtue (arete, excellence) was used extensively in Greek culture Socrates was the first to examine virtue in detail He equated virtue with knowledge: no one does wrong willingly Piety is one of the virtues Piety and the Pious Act:  Piety and the Pious Act Euthyphro claims to be acting piously in prosecuting his father He must defend this claim, since the act appears to be impious Euthyphro claims to know better than others what piety is If his act falls under the correct conception of piety, then it is a pious act The Form:  The Form Many acts are considered to be pious Each pious act is pious because there is something 'the same and alike in every [pious] action' This unifying something is called a 'form' The form 'makes all pious actions pious' The correct conception of piety therefore must describe this form The First Account of Piety:  The First Account of Piety To be pious is to prosecute the wrongdoer, no matter who it is But there are other pious acts that do not involve the prosecution of the wrongdoer So this account violates the condition that there be one form unifying all pious acts Socrates demands a form as a model that can be used to distinguish any pious act The Second Account of Piety:  The Second Account of Piety To be pious is to be loved by the gods This meets the requirement of a single form But nothing meets this condition An act is loved by the gods insofar as it is considered just (or good, or beautiful) The gods disagree over whether acts are just The same act would then have to be both pious and impious—loved by some and not by others The Third Account of Piety:  The Third Account of Piety To be pious is to be loved by all the gods It is questionable whether Euthyphro’s act meets this condition But this does not show the account to be incorrect, since there is reason to believe that prosecuting one’s father is impious There is a more fundamental objection The -ing/-ed Distinction:  The -ing/-ed Distinction A thing is carried because of the act of carrying But the act of carrying is not because of the thing carried A thing is not 'being affected because it is something affected, but it is something affected because it is being affected' This holds for love: a thing is loved because of the act of loving, and not vice-versa Refutation of the Third Account:  Refutation of the Third Account So something is loved by all the gods because of their act of loving it, and not vice-versa Suppose piety = being loved by all the gods Then something is pious because of the act of the gods loving it, and not vice-versa But the gods love what is pious because it is pious Thus, piety  being loved by all the gods Avoiding the Refutation:  Avoiding the Refutation Socrates’s argument is supposed to show that piety is distinct from being loved by all the gods Euthyphro could avoid the conclusion by simply refusing Socrates’s suggestion that the gods love what is pious because it is pious He could embrace the conclusion that 'the pious would be pious because it was being loved by the gods' Form or Quality?:  Form or Quality? If the pious is not the same as what is loved by all the gods, what is the relation between them? Being loved by all the gods is a quality of the pious To give a quality of a thing does not supply the form that makes it what it is But Euthyphro could say that this quality is what makes a pious act pious: piety is relative to the actions of the gods The Fourth Account of Piety:  The Fourth Account of Piety Piety is that part of the just concerning the care of the gods But piety does not benefit the gods, since the gods cannot be made better Nor is it service to the gods, since it does not help them achieve an end But Socrates overlooks Euthyphro’s reply that doing what is pleasing to the gods is necessary to preserve order in private houses and public affairs The Fifth Account of Piety:  The Fifth Account of Piety Piety is a knowledge of how to give to, and beg from, the gods To give correctly is to satisfy needs But the gods have no needs to be satisfied So there is no correct giving, and hence no knowledge of how to give to the gods Euthyphro could deny either of the two claims leading to the conclusion Moving Statues:  Moving Statues Euthyphro had stated that Socrates’s statements did not stay put, like the statues of his ancestor Daedelus Socrates responded that he could move others’ statements around He now notes that Euthyphro has returned to his earlier account of piety as what is dear to the gods He has made his account go in a circle Conclusion:  Conclusion Socrates controls the discussion, by making Euthyphro agree to statements that will get him in trouble Euthyphro could have denied any of several of these and saved several of his accounts His most obvious move is to allow that the pious is pious because all the gods love it This position undercuts the doctrine of forms, introducing a kind of relativism The conflict is re-played throughout the next 2,400 years

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