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Plato’s, “ Euthyphro”
Juan Nieto # 211151461
Teacher assistant: Matthew Schaeffer
How do I know that my actions are good? The point of this dialogue is to searchfor a proper definition of piety in order to weigh the goodness behind actions. Through Euthyphro’s words, Plato defines piety as:
1. prosecuting wrongdoers,2. anything that is agreeable to a god,
3. anything that all the gods love,
4. ministering to the gods because it is a part of justice,
5. prayer andsacrifice to please the gods.
All these definitions are problematic. The first one is an example rather than a definition and the second is ambiguous because itmakes piety bias for each god. The third definition raises the question of whether a holy object possesses such nature because it is loved by gods or is holy because,indeed, it is such and therefore must be loved. Can something be good and not be loved by gods? The idea of something being holy by itself threatens the gods’ hierarchyby proposing that gods must obey to something higher. In the fourth definition, Socrates shows that ministering the gods would be improving them, because the actionof serving improves the condition of the one being served. This definition connects to the final meaning, the objective of which is to receive the gods’ approval,already disregarded in third meaning. Sadly, none of the various meanings can be used to weigh the goodness behind actions and in doing so, Euthyphro’s knowledge toassess holy matters is proven inconsistent. In not leaving the question properly answered, I think Plato invites us to search for a meaning ourselves to weigh our deeds.
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