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Euthyphro Analysis

The “Euthyphro” contains the dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro that happens when they two encounter each other at the court. Euthyphro esteems Socrates and considers him the best of all men and expresses his surprise on finding him at the court. On the other hand, the passage informs that Euthyphro is different from all the other men given that he is a specialist and understands all things relating to holiness and piety. Based on their conversation, it follows that Socrates has come to answer the charges against him raised by Meletus, the young poet who accuses him of impiety. On the other hand, Socrates has come to prosecute his father for murdering another person. At the beginning of the conversation, Socrates asserts that Euthyphro must be an intelligent person if he is sure that prosecuting his father is the right thing to do and goes ahead to suggest that such incredible wisdom concerning wrong and right would be of great help to him in the case that he is facing. Upon reading the conversation between the two further, it emerges that it is characterized by Socratic irony. Although Socrates presents himself as an ignorant person eager to gain knowledge from a presumed skillful Euthyphro, it eventually becomes evident that Euthyphro is the ignorant one and has little knowledge pertaining to the subject of holiness and piety.Euthyphro Analysis

At the very beginning of the conversation, we learn that Socrates is thrilled to learn that Euthyphro has specialized in all matters pertaining to holiness and divinity. Already, he is facing charges at the court where he is being accused of corrupting the society. He hopes that by being taught by Euthyphro, he will be better positioned to defend himself. Without a doubt, it will be a win-win situation. If his teacher impacts to him the knowledge to do with holy and piety, he will be able to prove, during his trial, that he is well acquainted with piety’s nature. This, in turn, will contribute to his acquittal. If Euthyphro is wrong, however, Socrates will still be acquitted since he will be considered to be the victim, having been misled by his teacher. In this case, it is Euthyphro rather than Socrates, who will be prosecuted for corrupting Athenians.

The only thing required for Euthyphro to prove that he possesses knowledge is to define holiness or piety. This definition, if it exists, would enable Socrates to comprehend the nature of holiness and understand its rule that could be applicable to all instances. Although Euthyphro engages Socrates in the conversation, things do not turn out as he had expected. He begins by proving a narrative of Zeus and how he shackled his father in an effort to lay the ground for his definition. Socrates, on the other hand, considers the explanation provided as problematic because the stories given cannot be validated. Moreover, the definition is unsatisfactory since it tries to explain piety through examples alone. Therefore, it does not provide the crucial features of piety that would be applicable to all instances.Euthyphro Analysis

Although Euthyphro could be justified for asserting that prosecuting the unjust is a virtuous or pious act, the rule would eventually prove tragic since a person adhering to it would eventually end up ignoring all the other pious duties that he or she is expected to do. Euthyphro seems to recognize that indeed, such a person is likely to pay attention to piety only when an unjust person is being prosecuted. He changes his original definition and instead argues that only that which pleases the gods can be regarded as piety. The superiority of this definition arises from the general nature that makes it applicable to all instances involving piety. However, it exhibits several problems although not highlighted in the text. First, it is difficult to determine that which pleases the gods. Although it can be argued that this may be determined through revelation or from the sacred text, the differences in interpreting them make it difficult to follow the rules. For Socrates, however, the definition is unsatisfactory because it results in a contradictory rule. Given that the gods may regard different things as pleasing, it is possible to find a situation where one act is considered pious by one god and impious by the other.

The argument provided by Socrates forces Euthyphro to revise his earlier definition. This time around, he defines piety as that which the deities, all of them, love. This new definition is a great improvement to the earlier one. However, if the goodness in anything is simply because that thing is loved by the deities, it follows then that nothing can be considered as being intrinsically good. From the dialogue, Socrates seeks to reject this line of thought. According to him, the gods should love piety simply for the reason that it is good. This particular turn in the conversation has great consequences. If the case is true, then the two individuals have been discussing the wrong thing: the attitudes of deities.Euthyphro Analysis

As the conversation continues, Euthyphro backs up yet another time and supports Socrates’ view that holiness involves giving to the deities. The definition implies that piety is a form of business transaction between human being and deities. However, Euthyphro is not in a position to explain what the gods could want that is being possessed by human beings. The question pushes him back again to an earlier definition that he had given in which he explained piety as that which is pleasing to the deities.

Through the dialogue, Socrates brings out the circularity exhibited by Euthyphro in his understanding of piety. Eventually, it emerges that Euthyphro does not understand the reason that he must serve the deities. He only perceives it as a command that has to be obeyed. More importantly, he comes face-to-face with his lack of knowledge.

Evaluation

It is evident that Socrates’ intention is not to contest Euthyphro. Rather, he accepts what he says based on trust that he understands everything pertaining to what is holy and divine. By doing this and positioning himself as his student, however, he reveals, Euthyphro’s divided subjectivity. The citizen of Athens mock Euthyphro. In the process, his identity as the one who bears all the secret knowledge is reinforced. Socrates, to the contrary, seems to accept his self-conception. One of the several notable aspects of this dialogue, however, is its inconclusiveness, especially at the end. This particular attribute is worth investigating since it raises a number of questions. For instance, readers are left wondering whether the author tries to communicate that the definition of holiness does not exist. If this were the case, it would mean that holy deeds do not have anything in common. If the author does not think this way, the reader of the text is left questioning the reason that makes the author not to reveal it.

After analyzing the conversation in detail, it follows that its inconclusiveness has to do with the irony used by Socrates and the form taken by the dialogue. Without a doubt, the author seems to have a deep belief in the principle that knowledge is imparted when people defend, validate, and account for what they believe in. Consequently, it can be argued that the author believes that teaching should not just involve providing the right answers. Rather, it should involve guiding the student or the learner to the right answers such that in the end, they are in a position to explain, defend, and justify the answers they provide instead of merely repeating them. To achieve this kind of teaching, the dialogue form would be the most ideal. In this conversation, we see Socrates guiding Euthyphro and taking him through his own reasoning. In the end, Euthyphro would be in a position to sort everything.Euthyphro Analysis

The most evident irony in this conversation is that Socrates presents himself as though he were a learner and approaches Euthyphro as though he were the teacher. Throughout the conversation, however, we learn that it is Socrates who is teaching Euthyphro. This kind of arrangement has been arrived at intentionally. Its main aim is to encourage the learner, who in this case happens to be Euthyphro, to critically analyze his ideas and arguments. In the end, Euthyphro would be in a position to see his faults. Furthermore, by ending the conversation inconclusively, the author could have intended to stimulate his readers to exercise independent thinking that would help arrive at a conclusive definition without the author’s assistance.

Based on the analysis conducted, Euthyphro’s thinking seems to be wrong. It is evident, that he considers what is holy to be the same as that which the deities approve. Through Socrates’s skillful argument, however, we learn that this definition is not inclusive. What is holy and what the deities approve are two different things. The fact that the gods may approve something that is holy does not mean that that particular thing becomes holy through their approval. Furthermore, if something is holy because the deities approve it, the reason or cause for this approval would remain unknown. It then follows that any attempt to base holiness definition on the approval by the deities will, without a doubt, fail.  Although the general expectation would be to associate the quality of holiness with the divine will, the author of the text is of the opinion that a different line of thought is necessary.Euthyphro Analysis

Supposing that Euthyphro began by stating his final cyclical statement and arguing that the thing which the deities approve is what is holy, Socrates’ main contribution will have been the suggestion that even the gods quarrel and that in most cases, they do not arrive at the same rulings. Furthermore, the idea that things become holy through the approval of the gods would have raised the debate of whether some gods tend to be more influential than others. In such a case, some gods may be impressed by Euthyphro’s decision to prosecute his father. On the other hand, there are those that will have deemed this action unholy. In the end, it emerges that’s the most important thing is to have knowledge regarding the form or nature of holy. Since well cannot take or remove something from this form, Socrates would have been in a position to identify any fallacy in the arguments presented by Euthyphro if he had opted for this route.

Finally, both Socrates and Euthyphro have a point in the initial suggestions that they had made regarding the deities being pleased with pious on the simple ground that it is pious. If this debate was to be analyzed in relation to the gods of the ancient Greeks, it could be argued that being virtuous is a form that comes, not from within, but rather from outside of the gods, and which is regarded by them as an unchanging truth. Bearing in mind the modern-day metaphysics, all forms point towards a single being that is regarded as God. In this sense, piety would be this being. As such, God does not approve piety since already its part of him.Euthyphro Analysis