Plato’s Euthyphro is the dialogue of Socrates and Euthyphro. Socrates requests that Euthyphro teaches him the meaning of piety, when Socrates finds out that Euthyphro is persecuting his father for being impious. Euthyphro offers four definitions for what piety is, all of which are analyzed by Socrates, and then turned down by him in turn. The pious is to prosecute the wrongdoer and to not persecute is impious. This is the first definition that Euthyphro offers to Socrates as a definition of piety. Although Socrates says this is a definition of what piety is, he says that it is inadequate because it only states one instance of piety.
Socrates states that he did not want Euthyphro to tell him one or two of the many pious actions but the form itself that makes all pious actions pious. With the statement, all impious actions are impious and all pious actions pious proves that this is not a valid definition and deemed unworthy as sufficient for a definition. The second of Euthyphro’s definitions is, what is dear to the gods is pious, what is not is impious. Socrates says that an action or a man dear to the gods is pious, but an action or a man hated by the gods is impious.
But since the gods are in a state of discord, and are at odds with each other and therefore have different views on what things are pious and what things are impious. He therefore proves that if an action or a man dear to the gods is pious, but an action or a man hated by the gods is impious then the same things then are loved by the gods and hated by the gods, and would both be god-loved and god-hated, which would make the same things both pious and impious at the same time. In proving Euthyphro’s second definition, he offers up a third. The pious is what all the gods love, and the opposite, what all the gods hate, is the impious.
This is the third definition offered by Euthyphro. Although that this definition is closely related to the last definition Socrates gives him a full response. Socrates uses this analysis to prove Euthyphro’s new definition wrong; we speak of something carried ad something carrying, of something led and something leading, of something seen and something seeing, of something loved and something loving. He then states that it is not something loved because it is loved by those who love it but it is loved because it is being loved.
Socrates therefore disproves his third definition by saying that the pious is loved for the reason of being pious, but is not pious because it is being loved, and that the god-loved is being loved by all the gods, but it isn’t loved because it is god-loved. But these things were the same so if they are not the same then Euthyphro’s third definition is turned down with the last two of his definitions. The fourth and last definition of piety that is presented by Euthyphro is, what is pleasing to the god at prayer and sacrifice, those are pious actions such as preserve both private houses and public affairs of state. The opposite of these pleasing actions are impious and overturn and destroy everything.
Socrates analyzes this as a trading skill between gods and men. That in this trade we have an advantage over the gods, as we receive all our blessings form them and they receive noting from us. Then Socrates proves that they are going in circles as this definition is brings us back to his earlier definition that the pious is what is dear to the gods. Since this definition has already been proven false then this fourth definition is therefore also deemed false. This Socratic dialogue shows that people themselves are ignorant and always assume that they know exactly what they are talking about.
When in reality they know very little about the subject at hand. Even when someone is confronted about an issue or topic that someone says they know, but they truly do not, they refuse to admit to the fact that they do not know. They then will give their meaning to the topic or issue and hope that a person doesn’t know what the true definition is. In this dialogue Euthyphro is ignorant and wants to sentence his father to death on the ground of being impious, when in fact he doesn’t know the true meaning of piety, which we find out through Socrates and his 4 replies to what Euthyphro calls definitions.