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Piety VS Impiety (Euthyphro & Socrates)

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    What is piety and impiety? This broad question is exactly what Euthyphro and Socrates debate about the true meaning of these two words. When society hears the word piety, they think of worship for God or religious fulfillment of sacred obligations. However, when Socrates attends the king’s court on charges of impiety by Meletus, he encounters Euthyphro there who is going to prosecute his own father for accidentally killing one of his workers. Even though Socrates feels that Euthyphro has courage for prosecuting his own father on a charge that can be seen as disputable, Euthyphro mentions that he still knows everything about the true meaning of being holy. At this point, Socrates exhorts Euthyphro to teach him what holiness is and help his trial against Meletus. This well known debate has different views amongst each other as well as how others who read about the two view their argument and whether or not it is accurate or simply bogus.

    When Socrates and Euthyphro begin to have a discussion about if Euthyphro’s fathers’ murder is pious or impious, he begins to debate with him about Euthyphro’s father’s trial as well as taking his own trial into consideration. When they start to discuss the difference between piety and impiety, Euthyphro first starts by explaining what piety is by giving a simple example instead of giving the actual definition. He mentions what he is doing to his father for manslaughter is pious or just but Socrates finds this statement rubbish because it is not a definition and merely an example of piety. The statement that Euthyphro says does not supply any essential quality which makes pious things actually pious. Euthyphro says, “The pious is to do what I am doing now, to prosecute the wrongdoer, and be it about murder or temple robbery or anything else, whether the wrongdoer is your father ot your mother or anyone else.” One can blatantly see that there is no substance to this statement to consider it an actual definition, but really just a list of things mentioned on what can be pious or impious.

    After Socrates mentions that the statement is filled with examples of what it could mean, not something he could fully understand, Euthyphro attempts to give a second definition by saying, “What is dear to the gods is pious, what is not is impious.” Now, Socrates finds this statement to be better than the first, but still passes judgment on it because this would mean that a precise action in doubt by the gods would be equally pious and impious at the same time which could not be a commonsensical position. To fight back, Euthyphro argues against this criticism that one who kills without justification should be punished. Socrates says that yes it is true; however the same action could still be both pious and impious so once again his statement does not satisfy Socrates argument about a true definition of the words.

    A third attempt was given by Euthyphro to satisfy Socrates need for the definition of piety. “The pious is what all the gods love, and the opposite, what all the gods hate, is impious.” Once again, Socrates does not find this to be a fit definition for the word and feels it resembles the second definition too much. Now, Socrates finds it important to mention the Euthyphro dilemma by asking him the conflicting question, “Is pious loved by the gods because it is pious? Or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” He tries to get a more accurate answer by asking this to Euthyphro. Socrates continues to argue and says that what is pious or impious to one god might not be for other gods. He also argues that what might be found as an aspect of piety might not be a part of its crucial distinctiveness. It does not give what piety is or what the idea of it is, so it is an inconsistent definition once again.

    As Euthyphro tries his fourth statement to satisfy the needs of Socrates, he says “The godly and pious is the part of the just that is concerned with the care of the gods, while that concerned with the care of the men is the remaining part of justice.” He mentions here the idea of justice and how it can be related to the pious definition. It is still however, not formally fit for a definition because this is saying that piety belongs to those actions we call just or morally good. So from this, it cannot be right so say that the idea of justice covers everything such as gods. However, piety has to do with things that concern only gods and not men; and not all just things are pious. One must find proof, not just say what you think could be believable.

    For Euthyphro’s fifth definition to Socrates, he attempts to mention, “That slaves take of their masters.” Euthyphro goes on to support Socrates analysis that piety is “a sort of trading skill between gods and men.” Socrates disputes him by asserting that gifts are favorable to the recipient, but how could the gods profit from what we do? Euthyphro argues back that serving the gods will please them and be dear to them. Now, Socrates sees and tells Euthyphro that they are just going about from the very beginning again and looping this whole conversation from the start again. It is very similar to the statement that he had said in the beginning of the conversation about the gods. Socrates still would like to know what the true meaning of piety and impiety is because they have no gotten it from the conversation yet. Aggravated Euthyphro leaves and the dialogue between the two ends.

    Even though this ends abruptly because Euthyphro was so agitated by this conversation with Socrates, he never got to fully understand what piety or impiety truly is and now he has to face a prelude hearing of the charge of impiety. This dialogue between the two of them never got to be fully understood. The definition between piety and impiety were never clearly explained to Socrates because Euthyphro would give examples or giving incorrect statements without directly hitting the exact definition.

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    Piety VS Impiety (Euthyphro & Socrates). (2016, Aug 26). Retrieved from

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