In the Euthyphro, there were a couple of things that intrigued me about Socrates’s dialogue. The first is that Socrates noticed the justification of piety Euthyphro was using for prosecuting his father of murder. Euthyphro expressed that if anyone considered him impious for wanting to prosecute his father, then it reveals how little they know about what the god’s think about piety. In my perspective, the justification he uses seems to be for the purpose of relinquishing any guilt he may have. Secondly, it reveals a slight pride of knowledge he has in relation to the gods. Socrates takes notice and puts Euthyphro’s logic to the test.
Socrates’s approach is very crafty. He persuades Euthyphro he is interested in becoming a student of his with the hopes of learning knowledge from him about piety and the gods. Whether Socrates was sincere about learning as a student or merely attempting to set up a dialogue to reveal a logical fallacy from Euthyphro, I can only speculate. Personally, I believe the second proposition, that Socrates did not sincerely believe Euthyphro to be full of wisdom in relation to piety and the gods. We know that Socrates was not a firm believer of the Greek god’s; therefore, I believe he is merely flattering Euthyphro to comfortably express his logic.
Socrates asks Euthyphro for a definition of Piety, which is very clever because sometimes many arguments are not effective when the subject is not mutually defined. For example, Orthodox Christians and Mormons can argue on the subject of “grace” and go know where because, the fact is that they both define the word grace in two different ways, which may distort a particular application or context.
To be concise with this post I will only elaborate on the first definition given by Euthyphro. Euthyphro states that piety is as he is doing by prosecuting his father. Socrates responds by telling him tactfully that, he did not ask him for an example, but instead Socrates asks Euthyphro to give him “the nature of this idea . . . (so that he may have a) standard,” (Plato). To ask for a standard for the definition instead of an example is reasonably relevant. With an absolute standard, it may be used to measure whether or not an action is truly pious or not. This is great because it eliminates any opportunity for relativism. It is obvious, following Socrates’s reasoning; that he was not a relativist but instead a rational realist. The takeaway that may be gleaned from this is that, with an absolute definition of what piety or any other concept is; that definition must be absolute and apply universally to all intelligent living beings; therefore, it cannot be relative in the sense that anyone can reasonably argue the action to be contrary to the definition.
Plato. Euthyphro. The Internet Classic Archive. http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/euthyfro.html