11 November 2007

Euthyphro

We may come back to Islam, but for the moment we're moving on to the more philosophical side of religion, starting with Plato's Euthyphro. The somewhat odd thing is that he says that this was one of our required texts, but I knew that I hadn't seen it, so I went back to the bookstore on Friday afternoon. I had all six of the texts that were listed as required for the class. None of them were the Euthyphro (unless it had been bundled in with Hume or Freud, but that seemed unlikely). But a quick glance through other philosophy classes' texts found two books with that dialogue in them. I picked the one with the most extra material, since there was only a dollar's difference in the price. Eight bucks for five dialogues. Gad. Mozilla's spellcheck doesn't even recognize dialogues?

Anyway, I read the dialogue yesterday. It's only about twenty pages, and is quite entertaining. It wouldn't be at all out of place in, say, a Shakespearean play. Socrates, about to face those who have accused him of impiety, wants Euthyphro to tell him what piety is. Wikipedia has a concise summary, but it's so much more entertaining to read it in full. The most amusing thing is the way that Socrates keeps flattering Euthyphro all through it, calling him an expert, and the most learned, etc, on the subject of piety, even as Socrates completely decimates Euthyphro's arguments, all the while apologizing for not being able to follow them. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

Just for fun, how's this for a definition of piety? "Acting in a manner which the State (or Church, etc.) believes will be approved of by the god(s)." Somehow I think this definition would have the Greeks prosecuting me for impiety as well. `/^ And I'm sure that Socrates could twist that definition around nine ways to Sunday, too.

3 comments:

IAMB said...

You should have said something to me... I have quite a bit of Plato's stuff hanging around not getting any use.

Qalmlea said...

LOL. I didn't see you in the interim, and it was only $8 anyway. 'sides, now I get to read the rest of the dialogues in it!

Paul said...

Hello. I just thought you might like to read this article:
"A Christian Answer to the Euthyphro Dilemma" (link).