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Timed Writing: An Example

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2 Timed Writing: An Example
What is the central concept being discussed in Euthyphro? What is one definition offered by Euthyphro? Do you think it is a good definition, why or why not?

3 Plato’s Euthyphro: Discussion Questions
1. What is this dialogue about? Who are the interlocutors? How do they meet? 2. What are Euthyphro’s various attempts to define piety (or holiness) and what are Socrates’ objections to these definitions? Who gets the better of the argument? 3. What difference does it make whether the pious is loved by the gods because it is pious, or pious because it is loved? 4. What is the relationship between dread and awe? How does the relationship between dread and awe apply to the definition of piety? 5. If no satisfactory definition is proposed, what is the use of the entire discussion in this dialogue?

4 Euthyphro: What is Piety?
Or, how can an ethical/religious concept be defined? Def.#1: “the pious is just what I’m doing now: to proceed against whoever does injustice…” (p. 46; 5e) Def.#2: “the pious is what is dear to the gods” (p. 48; 7a) Def.#3: “the pious is whatever all the gods love” (p. 52; 9d)

5 The Euthyphro Problem ”Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved.” (p. 52; 10a) Is the good commanded by God because it is good, or is it good because it is commanded by God? What’s the difference? ”For the one, because it is loved, is the sort of thing to be loved; the other, because it is the sort of thing to be loved, is loved.” (p. 54; 11a) The Euthyphro problem raises the question of the source of value.

6 Divine Command Theory If something is pious or good because of God’s love or command, then 1. divinity is omnipotent and creates moral values (implication that without divinity no right and wrong) 2. moral values are arbitrary, i.e., they depend on God’s will and preferences (Which God? How can we know God’s will?)

7 Natural Law Theory If God loves or commands something because it is pious or good, then 1. values of right and wrong are absolute and lie outside of God’s command 2. values determined by Natural Law of Reason that even God must conform to (implication is God’s not omnipotent and morality is accessible to human reason)

8 What is the relationship between dread and awe and how does it apply to defining piety?
Def.#4: “the pious is that part of the just which concerns the tendance of the gods” (p. 57; 12e)

9 But what does it mean to attend to the gods (as horsemen attend to horses, and huntsmen attend to dogs)? It means to benefit them or make them better, but surely we can’t do this to the gods. Euthyphro then says it’s a kind of service, but Socrates asks what the product of this service is…what do the gods produce?

10 Def. #5: “piety is a knowledge of sacrificing and praying” (p
Def.#5: “piety is a knowledge of sacrificing and praying” (p. 59; 14c), “a certain art of commerce for gods” (p. 60; 14e) But what’s the point of prayer (asking from the gods), since they must already know what we want?

11 And what the point of sacrificing (giving to the gods), since they already have everything they need? Euthyphro admits that the gods don’t need anything, but he says that sacrifices please the gods. Wait a minute…!

12 What are we to conclude from this dialogue?
Piety (and perhaps any other ethical or religious concept) cannot be defined; it remains an open question. Perhaps we can conclude that how we should behave towards the gods is not worth speculating about at all. The pious (good or right) life cannot be known by reason and communicated. Can it be “known” another way? Are we to conclude that religious duty is a matter of subjective inwardness?

13 A Method for Defining a Concept
A definition is not an example. A definition involves the substance/essence/eidos of a thing, not an affection or attribute. A definition should be both general and specific (genus species).

14 The Socratic Method Dialectic: question and answer, the importance of the method is that questions lead to more questions and not answers Irony: the pose of ignorance on the part of the teacher, who may know more than he lets on Elenchos: cross-examination, refutation, critical scrutiny

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