CREDOS: Euthyphro — II

In response to Socrates’ rejection, Euthyphro gives a second definition, and states that piety or holiness is that which the Gods approve of. Socrates is pleased with the general form of the definition, but disagrees with it. He claims that the Gods themselves disagree amongst themselves. Anyone familiar to Greek mythology will be aware of the many contradictory

acts of their Gods, a mythological setting that is present within Hinduism as well. For instance, when needed both the Greek and Hindu Gods, lie, cheat, steal and murder and this cunningness is often considered a virtue.

Thus, Socrates points out that based on this definition, a single act can be pious and impious at the same time — a logically impossible situation.

Euthyphro counters Socrates’ objection by the use of a single world ‘all’ in his definition, which then states that piety as what all the Gods approve of. Here Socrates asks the most significant historical question in the dialogue, “Is the pious approved by the Gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is approved by the Gods?” This is a question of casualty. In the latter case, the Gods decide what is pious arbitrarily and without reason. If the Gods were to decide something as pious based on a reason, its very nature would make it pious and the Gods would merely be acknowledging this inherent pious nature. This is thus a discussion between philosopher and theologian, a conflict between faith and reason.