Euthyphro Dilemma Essay

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The Euthyphro Dilemma The Euthyphro excerpt from The Five Dialogues is dedicated to finding the definition of piety. Throughout this section, Socrates is questioning Euthyphro, a priest in Athens, as to what piety truly is. Socrates figures that if Euthyphro can tell him what piety is, he will be able to better defend himself in court, since one of the charges against him is being impious. Euthyphro believes that he knows what piety is and tries to give Socrates a suitable answer. Throughout the dialogue Socrates uses his method of elenchus to show Euthyphro that he actually does not know the absolute definition of piety. The Euthyphro dilemma occurs when, after some debate, Euthyphro comes to the conclusion that piety is what all of the gods love. Socrates then asks Euthyphro if something is pious because the gods love it or do the gods love it because that something is pious? This question forms the basic premise for the Euthyphro dilemma and through his use elenchus; Socrates is able to make the point that in order for piety to have any true value it must be valuable on its own, regardless of the gods and what they view as good. This idea portrays the view that ethical and moral values are independent of religion, which means moral action does not necessarily require religious belief. This way of thinking would have been unbelievable at this time, and would probably even be questioned in the present day. Initially, when Socrates asks Euthyphro what piety is, he responds that piety is what he’s currently doing, which was indicting his father for killing a slave. This response does not satisfy Socrates because he is looking for a definition of what piety is, not an example of piety. So Euthyphro goes on to define piety as what the gods love. Socrates counters this point with the fact that the gods do not always get along and consequently all gods

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