A young man by the name of Euthyphro involves himself in a conversation with the well known Socrates. During this conversation Euthyphro attempts to impose unrealistic beliefs concerning piety. Euthyphro is the plaintiff in a murder suit that he is filing against his very own father. Euthyphro believes that he has a case against his father, the reasons the young man comes up with does not sufficiently satisfy Socrates. This text is a great example of beliefs of a young man; against the wisdom and knowledge of older man. In the final analysis Socrates conversation with Euthyphro, smashes all of Euthyphro’s ideas and conceptions. Euthypro’s belief system has diminished and what he thought may be sound, good reasoning concerning the gods proves to be meaningless conversation. Euthyphro speaks in fallacy, Socrates sees right through it; and that is apparent in his questioning toward the young man. W. K. Clifford wrote an essay titled “The Ethics of Belief” in which he “argues that there is an ethic to belief that makes it always wrong for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence.” (Pojman/Rea 498) This short essay of comparing thoughts and beliefs will compare how Euthyphro by Plato, shows the importance of belief in comparison to that of W. K. Clifford in “The Ethics of Belief.” Furthermore, it is important to see how the text on Euthyphro’s conversation with Socrates, by Plato, truly shows that belief is invalid without proper evidence to justify it.
Belief is described as a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists, that something is true. Belief is a confidence; it is taught in childhood and plastered into the mind, it is a block to many men and women while growing old and learning about life. There was a time that a military soldier told a joke to another soldier after a situation of importance. The two soldiers were in a confrontation about a certain matter in which the Private (which is a young inexperienced soldier that has anywhere from a year to three years’ service), was talking to a Platoon Sergeant (who has six to ten years’ enlisted and plenty of experience). The young soldier had great belief that he could perform a certain task without any experience or knowledge. The old soldier told the younger soldier to get back and let him preform the task at hand. The task was completed by the Platoon Sergeant, the young solider was impressed and embarrassed at the same time; because what the young soldier believed to be the solution was nothing like the solution that the old soldier executed. Then a Joke was told to the young soldier by the old sergeant it went like this. A young bull said to an old bull, “lets RUN down the hill and do some of those cows!” the old bull replied, “No lets WALK down the hill and do them ALL.” If any man has been young they should be able to understand the beliefs and confidence of young Euthyphro. Then on the other hand one should appreciate getting old, to finally understand that beliefs are not grounded in truth. Beliefs are strong feelings base on nothing concrete, meaning that in most cases there is no pertinent evidence to back it up. Comparing the beliefs of “Euthypro”, in Plato’s text; to the essay “The Ethics of belief” by W. K. Clifford, there is a contrast of evidence; vs. beliefs, feelings and thought processes., W.K. Clifford’s essay on evidence is far more convincing than Euthyphro’s fallacies in the text by Plato.
W. K. Clifford wrote that “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” From the start of his essay “The Ethics of Belief,” W. K. Clifford illustrates his point on beliefs based upon insufficient evidence are always wrong, through several different examples. The first example he used was about a ship owner who sees that his ship is old and in need of repairs. The fact was that the ship was not sea worthy and not capable of a safe voyage and would probably cost a lot to repair. Then the ship owner began to think, he said to himself, “she (the ship) had gone safely through so many voyages and weathered so many storms that it is idle to suppose that she would not come home from this trip also.” (Pojman/Rea 498) In this instance the owner has faith in his ship and lets it sail. W. K. Clifford states in the essay that if the ship sinks, the owner will be directly responsible for the deaths of deaths that occur as a result of his negligence. The ethics of belief can easily be mistaken for having confidence in something without facts. In this illustration of this ship going out to sea it is almost like someone saying “I’ll take a gamble on it.” But, how could this ships owner gamble with the lives of innocent people? The Ethics of Belief emphasizes; even if the ship completes its voyage safely the ship owner is still wrong to have believed in its seaworthiness without addressing his doubts. The illustration of the ship’s owner is common in many humans in everyday life’s situations; W. K. Clifford says that just because things may prove to be beneficial in the long run it is not genuine belief. W. K. Clifford gives warning not to nourish belief by suppressing doubt and avoiding investigation. He also goes on to say, we all suffer from supporting false beliefs. In one of his illustration he mentions beliefs which people were taught in childhood. Beliefs that are taught as a child are deeply imbedded wile growing older, these beliefs push away doubts which arise in the mind, he further talks about how man’s beliefs prevent him from reading books, and involving himself in the company of others that will test or threaten any of his or her set beliefs. W. K. Clifford says that, the life of this person whom believes in faith and not fact based on evidence is committing one long sin against mankind. (Pojman/Rea 498) W. K. Clifford illustrates that belief is insufficient without evidence; Euthyphro by Plato illustrate strong belief in a young man by the name of Euthphro. Ironically in this text it is proven that what W. K. Clifford says about beliefs is right, Socrates smashes all or most of Euthphro’s belief towards the gods and himself.
From the very beginning of this text the main character Euthphypro is discredited. Socrates said, “I hardly know him.” Socrates also spoke about the young man’s appearance in a demeaning way he said, “He has a beak, and long straight hair, and a beard which is ill grown.” When Socrates engaged in conversation with Euthyphro he did it with sarcasm. As this text unfolds Socrates and Euthyphro are involved in a conversation which deals with piety. Piety deals with civic duty, lifestyles that are according and pleasing to the gods and humanity. Booth Euthyphro and Socrates are involved in legal cases. Euthyphro was there as a plaintiff against his father in a murder case; and Socrates was there for being accused for impiety and facing a trial. After Socrates finds out why Euthyphro is bringing charges against his own father; it sets the stage for Socrates to pursue and point out Euthyphro’s inconsistencies, and other beliefs that Euthyphro makes without thinking or using sound evidence. Euthyphro’s inexperience and belief involves him in a conversation with Socrates that is way over his head. Speaking in fallacies is how Euthyphro expresses himself, he argues his point with no depth and weight; again meaning he has no evidence to support his belief.
In an illustration, Euthyphro said “piety is doing as I am doing.” At this particular instance Euthyphro believed that he was acting in a way that he thought that the gods would have wanted to do, however; his thinking was based on thought and not evidence. Socrates beckoned him to produce evidence when he said, “what proof have you in the opinion of all the gods, against a servant who is guilty of murder.” Socrates ended his statement by saying, “How would you show that all the gods absolutely agree in approving of this act? Prove to me that they do.” Euthyphro had no proof or evidence at least he didn’t answer the question direct, his answer was, “It will be a difficult task.” What he did was give a mere assertion for an answer based on no concrete evidence; Euthyphro couldn’t prove anything. This whole text showed in many ways how wisdom and knowledge of a man that used fact and evidence, smashed the ideas and conceptions of beliefs of a boy who didn’t. The final analysis of this text was Euthyphro was encouraged by Socrates not to make any decisions on self-justification. Socrates schooled him in a way as to let him off the hook by saying, “I was hoping you could instruct me in the nature of piety and impiety.” Saying that to Euthyphro illustrated that Euthypro had no answers on piety concerning the gods or anything to that matter. It was like he told him to go home and do your homework before they laugh you out of this courtroom.
In conclusion the comparison of these two pieces of reading is similar as they booth showed that the beliefs of man are invalid unless backed with sound evidence. A person must understand the nature of an argument and address the argument with valid argument forms. In the case with Euthyphro vs. Socrates, Euthyphro had no validity in his form therefore; he would bow out to Socrates and thus prove W. K Clifford’s essay to be true. Belief without evidence is always wrong.
Pojman/Rea, Solomon, Kierkegaard. Encountering The Real: Faith And Philosophical Enquiry. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2012.