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Encyclopedia > Euthyphro
Part of the series on:
The Dialogues of Plato
Early dialogues:
EuthyphroFirst Alcibiades
Hippias MajorHippias Minor
Transitional & middle dialogues:
Menexenus – MenoPhaedo
Later middle dialogues:
The RepublicPhaedrus
Late dialogues:
The SophistThe Statesman
Of doubtful authenticity:
MinosRival Lovers
Second AlcibiadesTheages
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Euthyphro is one of Plato's early dialogues, dated to after 399 BC. Image File history File links Plato-raphael. ... (The) Apology (of Socrates) is Platos version of the speech given by Socrates as he defends himself against the charges of being a man who corrupted the young, did not believe in the gods, and created new deities. Apology here has its earlier meaning (now usually expressed by the... The Charmides (Greek: ) is a dialogue of Plato, discussing the nature and utility of temperance. ... The Crito (IPA [kriːtɔːn]; in English usually [ˈkɹiːtɘʊː]) is a short but important dialogue by the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato. ... The First Alcibiades or Alcibiades I is a dialogue featuring Alcibiades in conversation with Socrates, ascribed to Plato, but his authorship is doubtful, though probably written by someone within a century or two of Platos other works. ... Hippias Major (or What is Beauty) is one of the dialogues of Plato. ... Hippias Minor (or On Lying) is one of Platos early dialogues, written while the author was still young, although the exact date has not been established. ... Platos Ion aims to give an account of poetry in dialogue form. ... Laches, also known as Courage, is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato, and concerns the topic of courage. ... Lysis is one of the socratic dialogues written by Plato and discusses the nature of friendship. ... Cratylus (Κρατυλος) is the name of a dialogue by Plato, written in approximately 360 BC. In the dialogue, Socrates is asked by two men, Cratylus and Hermogenes, to advise them whether names are conventional or natural, that is, whether language is a system of arbitrary signs or whether words have an... Euthydemus (Euthydemos), written 380 BCE, is dialogue by Plato which satirizes the logical fallacies of the Sophists. ... Gorgias is an important dialogue in which Plato sets the rhetorician, whose specialty is persuasion, in opposition to the philosopher, whose specialty is dissuasion, or refutation. ... The Menexenus (Greek: Μενέξενоς) is a Socratic dialogue of Plato, traditionally included in the seventh tetralogy along with the Greater and Lesser Hippias and the Ion. ... Meno is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. ... It has been suggested that Phaidon be merged into this article or section. ... Protagoras is the title of one of Platos dialogues. ... The Symposium is a philosophical dialogue written by Plato sometime after 385 BC. It is a discussion on the nature of love, taking the form of a series of speeches, both satirical and serious, given by a group of men at a symposion or drinking party at the house of... The Republic (Greek: ) is a Socratic dialogue by Plato, written approximately 360 BC. It is an influential work of philosophy and political theory, and perhaps Platos best known work. ... The Phaedrus, written by Plato, is a dialogue between Platos main protagonist, Socrates, and Phaedrus, an interlocutor in several dialogues. ... Parmenides is one of the dialogues of Plato. ... The Theætetus (Θεαίτητος) is one of Platos dialogues concerning the nature of knowledge. ... Timaeus is a theoretical treatise of Plato in the form of a Socratic dialogue, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world. ... Critias, a dialogue of Platos, speaks about a variety of subjects. ... The Sophist (Greek: Σοφιστής) is one of the late Dialogues of Plato, which was written much more lately than the Parmenides and the Theaetetus, probably in 360 BC.After he criticized his own Theory of Forms in the Parmenides, Plato proceeds in the Sophist with a new conception of the Forms... The Statesman, or Politikos in Greek and Politicus in Latin, is a four part dialogue contained within the work of Plato. ... Philebus is among the last of the late Socratic dialogues of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. ... The Laws is Platos last and longest dialogue. ... The Clitophon, a dialogue generally ascribed to Plato, is significant for focusing on Socrates role as an exhorter of other people to engage in philosophic inquiry. ... The Epinomis is a dialogue in the style of Plato, but today considered spurious by most scholars. ... The Epistles of Plato are a series of thirteen letters traditionally included in the Platonic corpus. ... The Hipparchus is a dialogue attributed to the classical Greek philosopher and writer Plato. ... Minos is one of the dialogues of Plato, featuring Socrates and a Companion. ... Rival Lovers (Greek: ) is a Socratic dialogue included in the traditional corpus of Platos works, though its authenticity has been doubted. ... The Second Alcibiades or Alcibiades II is a dialogue ascribed to Plato, featring Alcibiades conversing with Socrates, but there is a general consensus amongst scholars that this text is spurious, though again probably written by someone within a century or two of Platos other works. ... Theages is one of the dialogues of Plato, featuring Demodocus, Socrates and Theages. ... PLATO was one of the first generalized Computer assisted instruction systems, originally built by the University of Illinois (U of I) and later taken over by Control Data Corporation (CDC), who provided the machines it ran on. ... Centuries: 5th century BC - 4th century BC - 3rd century BC Decades: 440s BC 430s BC 420s BC 410s BC 400s BC - 390s BC - 380s BC 370s BC 360s BC 350s BC 340s BC Years: 404 BC 403 BC 402 BC 401 BC 400 BC - 399 BC - 398 BC 397 BC...

Shortly before the Greek philosopher Socrates is due to appear in court, he encounters a man, Euthyphro, who has gained the reputation of being a religious expert. Euthyphro has come to lay a series of charges against his father, that of murder, as his father had allowed one of his workers to die without proper care and attention. The worker had killed a slave belonging to the family estate on the island of Naxos and, while Euthyphro's father waited to hear from the authorities how to proceed, the man died bound and gagged in a ditch. Socrates expresses his astonishment at the confidence of a man able to take his own father to court on such a serious charge. In what may be perceived as a tongue-in-cheek fashion, Socrates states that Euthyphro obviously has a clear understanding of what is pious (τὸ ὅσιον) and impious (τὸ ἀνόσιον).[1] Since Socrates himself is facing a charge of impiety, by worshipping gods not approved by the state, and is unclear on what holiness is, he hopes to learn from Euthyphro. A philosopher is a person who thinks deeply regarding people, society, the world, and/or the universe. ... This page is about the ancient Greek philosopher. ... Religious is a term with both a technical definition and folk use. ... Naxos (Greek: Νάξος; Italian: Nicsia; Turkish: NakÅŸa) is a Greek island, the largest island (428 km²) in the Cyclades island group in the Aegean. ... Sarcasm is the making of remarks intended to mock the person referred to (who is normally the person addressed), a situation or thing. ... Piety is a desire and willingness to perform religious duties. ... The privative a (or a privativum) is the prefix a- expressing negation (e. ... Look up deity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Euthyphro claims that what lies behind the charge brought against Socrates by Meletus and the other accusers is Socrates's claim that he is subjected to a daimon or divine sign which warns him of various courses of action. Euthyphro is right; such a claim would be regarded with suspicion by many Athenians. So too would Socrates's views on some of the stories about the Greek gods, which the two men briefly discuss before plunging into the argument. Socrates expresses reservations about those accounts which show up the gods' cruelty. He mentions the castration of the early sky god, Uranus, by his son Cronos, saying he finds such stories very difficult to accept. The Apology of Socrates by Plato names Meletus as the main perpetrator against Socrates. ... Look up daimon in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Uranus is the Latinized form of Ouranos (), the Greek word for sky. ... Rhea tricking Cronus with a wrapped stone. ...


The argument

Portrait of Socrates, Roman marble, Louvre museum
Portrait of Socrates, Roman marble, Louvre museum

Socrates's inductive method of arguing can be seen in the main part of the dialogue, in which Socrates invites Euthyphro to put forward definitions of holiness which the two can then discuss. From the definitions offered and discussed, an acceptable account of piety will be built up. It is clear that Socrates wants a definition of piety which will be universally true. It will be a standard or template against which all actions can be measured in order to determine whether they are pious or not. ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (600x800, 153 KB) Suject : Portrait of Socrates ; Origin : Roman (1st century), perhaps a copy of a lost bronze statue made by Lysippos ; Material : Marble ; Location : Louvre museum, Paris, France, MA 59 ; Author : Eric Gaba (User:Sting) ; Date : July 2005. ... ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (600x800, 153 KB) Suject : Portrait of Socrates ; Origin : Roman (1st century), perhaps a copy of a lost bronze statue made by Lysippos ; Material : Marble ; Location : Louvre museum, Paris, France, MA 59 ; Author : Eric Gaba (User:Sting) ; Date : July 2005. ... This page is about the ancient Greek philosopher. ... Aristotle appears first to establish the mental behaviour of induction as a category of reasoning. ... In logic, an argument is a set of statements, consisting of a number of premises, a number of inferences, and a conclusion, which is said to have the following property: if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true or highly likely to be true. ...

The stages of the argument can be summarised as follows:

First definition

Euthyphro offers as his first definition of piety what he is doing now, that is, prosecuting his father for manslaughter (5d). Socrates rejects this because it is not a definition; it is only an example or instance of piety. It does not provide the fundamental characteristic which makes pious things pious. A fundamental is something that cannot be built out of more basic things, which other things are built upon. ...

Second definition

Euthyphro's second definition: piety is what the gods approve of (6e). Socrates applauds this definition because it is expressed in a general form, but criticizes it on the grounds that the gods disagree among themselves as to what meets their approval. This would mean that a particular action, disputed by the gods, would be both pious and impious at the same time — a logically impossible situation. Euthyphro tries to argue against Socrates's criticism by pointing out that not even the gods would disagree amongst themselves that someone who kills without justification should be punished, but Socrates argues that disputes would still arise — over just how much justification there actually was, and hence the same action could still be both pious and impious. Justification can mean: justification (jurisprudence) justification (typesetting) justification (theology) In epistemology, justification of a belief is what renders it worth believing in terms of its probable truth. ...

Third definition

Euthyphro overcomes Socrates's objection by inserting the word 'all' into his former definition (9e). Thus the third definition reads: What all the gods approve of is pious, and what they all disapprove of is impious. At this point Socrates introduces the "Euthyphro dilemma" by asking the crucial question: Do the gods approve an action because it is pious, or is it pious because it is approved (10a)? He uses a typical Socratic technique, analogy or comparison, to make his question clearer and gets Euthyphro to agree that we call a carried thing carried simply because it is carried, not because it possesses some inherent characteristic or property that we could call "carried". Carried, that is, is not an inherent quality like mass. What he is trying to get Euthyphro to see is that we carry something that is already there. This thing exists without our carrying it; our carrying does not bring it into existence. So too as far as piety is concerned, we approve or disapprove of something which is already, in some sense, there; our approving, by itself, does not make an action pious. The approval follows from our recognition that an action is pious, not the other way round. Or, to put it more simply, the piety comes before the approval, yet in Euthyphro's definition it comes after the approval and is a consequence of the approval. Euthyphro's definition is therefore flawed. The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Platos dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates asks Euthyphro: Is the pious (τὸ ὅσιον) loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods? (10a) In monotheistic terms, this is usually transformed into: Is what is moral... Analogy is both the cognitive process of transferring information from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target), and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process. ... Look up Characteristic in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Without realising that it contradicts his third definition, Euthyphro at this point agrees that the gods approve an action because it is pious. (Later he will return to his earlier definition.) Socrates argues that the unanimous approval of the gods is merely an attribute of piety; it is not part of its defining characteristics. It does not define the essence of piety, what piety is in itself; it does not give the idea of piety.

Socrates' definition

In the second half of the discussion, aiming to bring about a clear and distinct definition of piety, Socrates does more than just invite and then examine Euthyphro's definitions. It is he who puts forward the next definition of piety, gaining Euthyphro's immediate acceptance:

Piety belongs to those actions we call just or morally good. However, there are more than just pious actions that we call just or morally good (12d); for example, bravery, concern for others and so on. What is it, asks Socrates, that makes piety different from all those other actions that we call just? JUST JUST is a rock band based out of Airdrie, Alberta, Canada. ...

Euthyphro's response

Socrates then suggests that piety is concerned with looking after the gods (13b), but immediately raises the objection that "looking after" is used in its ordinary sense, which Euthyphro agrees it is, this would imply that when you perform a pious action you make one of the gods better — a dangerous example of hubris, which gods frowned upon (13c). Euthyphro claims that caring for involves service. When questioned by Socrates as to exactly what is the end product of piety, Euthyphro can only fall back on his earlier claim: piety is what finds approval amongst all the gods (14b). Hubris or hybris (Greek ), according to its modern usage, is exaggerated self pride or self-confidence (overbearing pride), often resulting in fatal retribution. ...

Final definition

Euthyphro then proposes another definition: Piety, he says, is a sort of sacrifice and prayer. He puts forward the notion of piety as a form of commerce: giving the gods gifts, and asking favours of them in turn (14e). Socrates presses Euthyphro to state what benefit the gods get from the gifts humans give to them. Euthyphro replies that they are not that sort of gift at all, but rather "honour, esteem and gratitude" (15a). In other words, as the young man admits, piety is intimately bound up with what the gods approve of. The discussion has come full circle; Euthyphro rushes off to another engagement, and Socrates faces a charge of impiety. Alexander Hamilton defending his honour by obliging to duel Aaron Burr. ... Dignity in humans involves the earning or the expectation of personal respect or of esteem. ... “Thanks” redirects here. ...


  1. ^ Stephanus page 5d: λέγε δή, τί φῂς εἶναι τὸ ὅσιον καὶ τί τὸ ἀνόσιον;


  • R.E. Allen: Plato's "Euthyphro" and the Earlier Theory of Forms. London 1970, ISBN 0710067283.

See also

The divine command theory is the metaethical theory that morality (e. ... The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Platos dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates asks Euthyphro: Is the pious (τὸ ὅσιον) loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods? (10a) In monotheistic terms, this is usually transformed into: Is what is moral...

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
  • Full text (English and Greek) at Perseus
  • Absurd Wisdom: An Apology for Euthyphro
  • A free audiobook of Euthyphro at LibriVox
  • Full Text of the Dialogue



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