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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Euthyphro by Plato (399 BCE)

I am reading ancient philosophy to my youngest son, and while I managed to dodge reading any of it in my previous 50+ years, I am actually enjoying it, in a kind of weird way.  Although it is pretty clear to me that I do not understand at least half of it.
 This is a dialogue between Euthyphro and Socrates that takes place outside the court house in Athens.  Socrates has been accused of impiety, and as we all know, that did not go well for him.  So the account that Plato wrote about this event has some irony running through it.  Euthyphro is accusing his father of murder.  When Socrates asks him why he would betray his own father when he is not compelled to do so, he puts forth that he is doing the pious thing.  Socrates asks him to explain to him what piety is, and poor Euthyphro falls neatly and completely into Socrates logical trap and there is no escaping for him.  Euthyphro is arrogant but Socrates takes him apart piece by piece until there is nothing left for Euthyphro to essentially say that he knows a pious act when he sees it.  Which is about how well things go for Socrates.  

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