Plato Euthyphro Thesis

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Socrates

The context for this particular discussion between Socrates and Euthyphro is that Socrates has been accused of impiety. He must therefore present an argument to the Senate that will determine whether he has created new gods, and done away the old ones, or if in fact he is not involved in promoting ignorance. He sets out to show that his actions are the actions of a very pious man with pious thoughts, deeds and actions, at least according to the definition of piety in that day.

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His first job then is to present Euthyphro as a pious man, a man that will be respected in the courts and judged as a theologian who knows of what he speaks. Whether Euthyphro is an imaginary character or not is a moot point at this juncture, Socrates must show that even the understanding of the theologians are suspect, because no one actually knows for certain what the gods would consider as pious or as impious. He establishes that Euth is such by stating; "You, Meletus, as I shall say to him, acknowledge Euthyphro to be a great theologian, and sound in his opinions; and if you approve of him you ought to approve of me." Socrates presents the argument that theologians are much more likely to understanding the differences between good and evil, at least from the mother state's viewpoint. Socrates even goes so far as to place Euthyphro on a pedestal far above the common man (presenting himself as a member of the common herd) by saying of Euthyphro, "a man must be an extraordinary man, and have made great strides in wisdom, before he could have seen his way to bring such an action."

Thesis on Plato Euthyphro by Plato Assignment

By presenting this evidence, and asserting the eminence of Euthyphro, Socrates is establishing a precedence on which he can base his entire argument. By showing that not even a theologian has a true understanding of what is pious and what is not, he is presenting to the Senate the fact that they should not, could not, have the understanding necessary to judge one man's piety from another. The trump card is played when Euthyphro agrees with Socrates by stating "I ought not to take any notice, for that a son is impious who prosecutes a father. Which shows, Socrates, how little they know what the gods think about piety and impiety."

The setting is set for Socrates to plunge into his main argument, the difference between what is good and what is evil, what is pious and what is impious. He has now manipulated the theologian into presenting evidence that shows that not even a man of the cloth can truly define those who are pious, and those that are not. Socrates now proceeds to ask Euthyphro to define 'what is good' or to show the difference(s) between piety and impiety, but he wants Euthyphro to provide the definition within certain constraints. Socrates supplies Euthyphro with certain definitions or parameters that they both can agree to, then proceeds to demonstrate that the parameters still do not answer the question. It is important to Socrates that the question not be answered because what he is doing by presenting a discussion with Euthyphro, is in reality presenting his argument to the Senate and to the public. Socrates accomplishes this presentation by discussing the scenario with Euthyphro.

One of the interesting points not directly stated during the entire discussion is the fact that neither participant questions the existence of God or gods, but rather focus' on what those gods feel or know. Accordingly, the ultimate decider of what is right is God or the gods. Seeking to understand or comprehend what the gods believe is good is exactly the point that Socrates is attempting to make. When Euthyphro states; "I have told you already, Socrates, that to learn all these things accurately will be very tiresome. Let me simply say that piety or holiness is learning, how to please the gods in word and deed, by prayers and sacrifices. Such piety, is the salvation of families and states, just as the impious, which is unpleasing to the gods, is their ruin and destruction."

If what Euthyphro states is the argument Socrates presents to the Senate, then it can hardly be refutable. Socrates is attempting to learn what is good, and what is not, in order to ensure his own salvation. Socrates is not the only individual… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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