Euthyphro's Definitions of Piety

1011 words 5 pages
Euthyphro offers at least four definitions of piety. Analyze each one of them. According to you, what are the shortcomings and fallacies that Socrates finds in each one of them?

In Euthyphro's initial dialogues with Socrates he is in the process of prosecuting his father for the murder of a murderer. Socrates did not quite understand the philosophy behind Euthyphro's actions but nevertheless wanted to learn. Socrates chose to speak with Euthyphro with hopes to better understand Euthyphro and how he came into being in such high power in the state. Socrates was about to face trial himself and wanted to be able to command the same respect that Euthyphro already achieved.
Euthyphro claims to fully understand with complete accuracy
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Thus, Socrates clearly states, "Piety and what is pleasing to the gods are different things," because they do not follow the same form of language as presented before.
A fourth and final definition of piety as described by Euthyphro is that "piety is the science of asking the gods and giving to them" or in other words the art of carrying on business between the gods. (p. 18) The business is asking of the gods what man wants and asking the gods what they want from humans. The gifts humans can give to gods are honor and praise while everything good that the humans have is a gift from the gods. This would then mean that piety does not profit the gods but it is acceptable and appreciated by them. It also contradicts the third definition because piety is then not what is loved by the gods. Socrates then accuses Euthyphro of having a moving definition of piety. He asks Euthyphro, "And now do you not see that you say that what the gods love is pious?" from the third definition, and "But does not what the gods love come to the same thing as what is pleasing to the gods?" from the second definition.
Socrates asks for a final time for a definition of piety. He wanted to gain this knowledge in preparation for his upcoming trial. Socrates planned to explain to his judges on the day of his trial that Euthyphro "had made [him] wise about divine things." He strived for the understanding in the short time he had with


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