Philosophical Contribution from Socrates and Euthyphro's dialogue

Essay by lanacoxxxCollege, UndergraduateB, March 2009

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The dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro shows Socrates wanting to learn the definition of piety from Euthyphro, who claims to know what piety is-that which is loved by the gods. Ironically, Socrates plays the student, and Euthyphro the teacher, while Socrates is really trying to teach Euthyphro that his definition of piety is not justified. Eventually, we learn that what is pious may be loved by the gods, but being pious and god-beloved cannot be the same thing. Euthyphro's definition fails because if the gods love something for its piety, then their love for it, cannot be what makes it pious. Also, it is not certain why gods love what they love, therefore, there is no real form or universal definition for piety, or perhaps, any ethical terms. Through cross-examination, Socrates is able to prove to Euthyphro that he cannot justify his definition of piety.

This argument on the definition of piety is an argument that presents a very significant philosophical contribution-that we can only consider ourselves to be knowledgeable when we can justify and give reasoning for our answers.

Socrates tries to teach to Euthyphro that the teaching of knowledge to a pupil, is not necessarily just giving the answer. Socrates presents the idea that to teach effectively, requires having a student be able to account for his answers. Socrates can only try to reason through Euthyphro's argument by pretending to be Euthyphro's student and questioning Euthyphro, forcing him to really think through the logic of his argument himself. This way, Euthyphro is able to see the fallacies in his argument, and hopefully it will help him to formulate a new definition of piety-one that he can back up with reasoning. The philosophical contribution from this argument is that wisdom in a certain field...