Posted at 10.16.2018
In Platos Euthyphro, the character Euthyphro endeavors to specify the pious as what all the gods love. In this article, I will look at the basis on which Socrates rejects this explanation. In order to do so, I will provide an format of the dialogue for framework. Furthermore, I am going to analyse what Socrates seems to require for a good definition. Finally, I'll attempt to protect Euthyphro's classification. Socrates rejects Euthyphro's description on the lands that his reasoning is round, but I am going to argue that by detatching the implicit requirement that there needs to be a reason for what the gods love, Euthyphro's description stacks up to Socrates' argument while dropping under his requirements for a good explanation.
In the Euthyphro, Socrates would like Euthyphro to teach him on meaning of the pious, as Euthyphro is known as an power on all spiritual concerns, and Socrates is convinced that by coming under his tutelage he is able to evade Meletus' charges should he prosecute Socrates. Socrates and Euthyphro concur that there has to be one exact standard or characteristic quality where all pious things are pious and everything impious, in contrast to the pious, is impious. Socrates would like to really know what this quality is.
Euthyphro shows that prosecuting those who commit injustices is pious, and not prosecuting them is impious, regardless of whom they may be. He references his prosecution of his own daddy for murder for example. He records that Zeus imprisoned his own dad for wickedly devouring his own children. As "Zeus is best & most just of all gods" (6a), if he behaves rightly in imprisoning his father for injustice, Euthyphro's actions must be pious for following this example.
Socrates feels that this is not a good explanation of piety. He highlights prosecuting those who commit injustices is only an example of a pious take action, rather than a meaning of piety itself. Euthyphro concedes that there are a lot more pious deeds that not contain prosecuting offenders. Socrates then asks Euthyphro to tell him the "the fundamental aspect, by which all holy acts are holy" (6d).
Euthyphro then proposes another meaning: that piety is what's agreeable to the gods. Socrates proceeds to investigate if this more standard definition is appropriate. First, he notes out that the gods themselves often quarrel, as is recounted in the misconceptions that Euthyphro thinks in so practically. Socrates highlights that quarrels do not persist over disputed facts, since contracts can be come to through computation or investigation, but instead over questions of value, such as what's "right and wrong, and noble and disgraceful, and good and bad" (7d). Euthyphro agrees with this evaluation.
Socrates points out that if the gods quarrel over what is just and what is good, then there may be clearly no contract among them on such issues. After all, if indeed they have different ideas on justice, it uses that they must approve of various things. Therefore there has to be certain things that are loved by some gods and unloved by other gods. But regarding to Euthyphro's explanation, that would suggest that those ideas are both pious and impious, being that they are approved of by some gods and disapproved of by others. This is evidently contradictory to the earlier assertion that there is one standard for piety, and concordantly for impiety since the impious is that which is not pious.
Euthyphro replies that surely the gods all concur that someone who eliminates someone unjustly should be punished. Socrates replies that the argument is not about whether or not an acknowledged wrongdoer should be punished, but about whether see your face has in truth acted unjustly. Hence for Euthyphro's argument to have any weight, he needs never to show that the gods concur that someone who murders unjustly should be punished, but that they agree that a particular murder is unjust to begin with.
All of the gives us an idea in regards to what Socrates considers a good explanation. He is not satisfied with answers that pertain to certain types of piety, or specific types of piety. The response must concern a quality which involves all varieties of piety and also to nothing that is not pious. In short, a good classification, for Socrates, requires both generality and exclusivity. Furthermore, it will need to have explanatory electric power. A statement of something's non-essential qualities might be true, but would meet the requirements as a description because it will not describe what that thing is; it only describes some of that thing's properties.
Eurthyphro's responds by changing his early on definition; he proposes that the pious is what all the gods love, and impiety is exactly what they all hate. Socrates responds by asking Euthyphro whether pious deeds are approved by the gods because they're pious or whether they are pious because they are approved by the gods. The point he would like to make here's that there surely is a notable difference between being something and getting something. You can find three things that may be said about any action: (1) it is pious, (2) it gets approved by the gods, and (3) it is approved by the gods. The variation between assertions (2) and (3) is that (2) handles the action of agreement by the gods and (3) handles the condition of the action to be approved of by the gods. Causally, (3) are required to follow (2).
The three statements Euthyphro makes are: (i) something gets approved by the gods since it is pious; (ii) something is approved of by the gods because it gets approved of by the gods (this case is implicit); (iii) what is pious is what's approved of by the gods. The first lay claim (i) says that (2) is true if (1) is true, (ii) expresses that (3) is true if (2) holds true, and (iii) state governments that (1) is equivalent to (3). But (i) and (ii) imply if (1) holds true then (3) is true, which is not the same as saying that (1) is the same as (3). Even if (1) and (3) make reference to the same thing, they do not have the same interpretation. Therefore Euthyphro's cannot claim that the definition of piety is whatever all the gods love without his reasoning being circular.
While Socrates's debate is indeed a robust blow against Euthyphro's meaning, we shall try to see if it's at all possible to guard Euthyphro's definition. One way achieve this task is by heading back to the question that Socrates poses to him about whether that which is pious is enjoyed by the gods since it is pious or whether it's pious since it is adored by the gods. The question assumes that the gods need a reason to love something, which is definitely not the case. If the acceptance of the gods does not need a cause, then piety can certainly be identified to be whatever the gods love without creating any inconsistency. We remember that what is pious is always pious. It generally does not seem to make any sense that what is pious today will be impious tomorrow. It follows that what's pious today was pious last night, and that which was pious last night was pious your day before that, etc until we arrive at the first cause of piety itself, which is thought as what all the gods love. Under this construction, piety is their state of being loved by all the gods, but it is meaningless to ask what prompts the gods to love something; that is, what triggered the gods to love it.
Socrates would without doubt complain that this makes piety a rather arbitrary affair, but which should not prevent Euthyphro. It was already affirmed that different gods can love various things. That shows that the likes and dislikes of the gods are not predicated on some higher guidelines, but are actually arbitrary. However, it is always possible that all the gods can all love a similar thing. This can happen solely by chance, but that would still not change that thing from being pious under Euthyphro's explanation. We note that Euthyphro's explanation is overarching definition that includes all of that is pious and excludes the rest, while having sufficient explanatory electricity.
While Socrates' discussion against Euthyphro's description is strong, it generally does not necessarily invalidate the definition. By removing the implicit necessity that the gods need a reason to love something, the definition holds up to both Socrates' debate as well as his requirements for a good classification.