Lecture 6

Mar 5

Socrates and the Problem of Justice

Read the first page of the chapter commentary and all of Plato's dialogue, Euthyphro, pp 41-58. Look for this file among the readings posted on the Lecture class's Blackboard site.

In thinking about what's at stake in Plato's takedown of Euthyphro, consider the following:

If you're curious to read more of either book, both are available online through the BU Library portal.

For homework, write a response to ONE of the following questions:

  1. What's your opinion about the moral predicament faced by Euthyphro? What should he do?
  2. Given the difficulty of Euthyphro's predicament, why does Plato/Socrates think that he's a fool? What does Plato/Socrates think Euthyphro should do?
  3. What similarities (or differences) do you see between Plato/Socrates' treatment of Gorgias and their treatment of Euthyphro? What conclusion might you reach as to Plato/Socrates' political/philosophical objective?
  4. Based on these two dialogues, what relationship do you see between Plato and Socrates? Can/should they be meaningfully merged together, or do they stand at some remove from one another?

47 responses to “Lecture 6

    • Q 1. Not only does Euthyphro have a moral predicament about prosecuting his father, he is also stuck between whether his or his father’s actions are more unholy. “You can prosecute your own father without fear that it is you, on the contrary, who are doing an unholy thing?” Socrates questions Euthyphro not for his predicament about who is more unholy but what consitutes honyness to begin with. Socrates Further questions Euthyphro by saying how can you prosecute your father if you, yourself are not holy. Socrates challenges Euthyphro to think about what is moral, holy, and just while considering his own actions. Euthyphro, in my opinion, should carefully consider the consequences and implications behind prosecuting his father before he goes ahead with the act. It is an injustice to murder someone and Euthyphro is right to pursue prosecution.

    • 1. Euryphro faces an immensely complicated predicament. In questioning whether or not to prosecute his father, he must question if his actions are even worse than his father’s. Socrates urges Euryphro to further contemplate what holiness means in the first place through his method of questioning. If Euryphro is not considered holy himself, then how can he prosecute or even judge his father? In my opinion, Euryphro should take time to completely understand what he thinks makes up holiness before jumping to such drastic measures. Clearly murder should be punished, and I do think he should prosecute him, but it never hurts to further understand the meaning of the basic ideas that make up life.

    • 1. Euryphro’s predicament is a very complex one, the idea of personal connection versus the higher order of being. He needs to choose between allegiance of blood and allegiance of “holiness”, which I read as goodness not only to the gods but the society structured around them. This conflict calls to mind the predicament Hamlet faces in Shakespeare’s play. There are differences in plot lines but the essential question both raise is where does allegiance to genetic family start and societal or ideological families begin. Hamlet’s murder of Claudius is in vain though it is in the name of justice because his death did not change the death of his father, and Euryphro condemning his father for unholiness does not erase the unholiness of his own actions. If Hamlet could teach Euryphro anything, it would be that actions are louder than intentions, the ideas of justice and of holiness are often lost when people try to avenge these ideas.

    • 1.Euthyphro is doing the right thing in prosecuting his father. We as people have morals, even if they are different based upon what we believe, they still must be consistent. We cannot say that it is ok to not at least take one murderer to court while another should be let go simply because of a familial relation. Euthyphro should make an emotional argument relating this person who was killed to any family member of another, and bring in the persuasive powers of religion in order to convince people to at least consider prosecuting his father for killing another human. While he may not be convicted, Euthyphro, based on his morals, is obligated to do everything in his power to make sure that a trial is still held, even if it is against his father.

    • Question 1:
      Euthyphro is facing a moral dilemma because he’s deciding whether or not to prosecute his father for causing the death of a day-laborer, who was a murderer. This is such a big dilemma for Euthyphro because he’s torn morally. Socrates prompted him with a question that made it more difficult, whether his actions or his fathers were less holy. Socrates challenges Euthyphro to think about morality and what it means to be holy, and if a man who is unholy is in a position to prosecute another man for being unholy.

      Personally, I think that it’s a tough choice, and Socrates raises some excellent points. Not only does Euthyphro have to worry about his family, and how he will look for prosecuting his father in the eyes of society, he has the gods to worry about. He makes the case that Zeus put his own father in bonds for similar reasons. Euthyphro is facing a dilemma between his family and his faith, and I think that the amount of faith he has, is what should ultimately drive his choice.

    • Euhtyphro an Athenian mantis, has presented a case at the Porch of King Archon, to prosecute his father for the murder of one of their day-laborers who was farming at Naxos. Euhtyphro’s morals as tested as he has the predicament to either protect his father or accuse him of the murder. Clearly in the dialogue it is seen that he proceeded to place charges against his father, as he thought it was the best for us as he was cleansing his father from his own sin, and himself as he knew of the occurrence. We can see Euhtyphro’s morals are very clear, and he is able to separate emotion from morality to act in the most unbiased and just manner.

    • 1. Euthyphro is debating on wether or not he should prosecute his father and I believe that he shouldn’t be prosecuted. Because the man that was killed was a murderer himself and the act was an accident, his father should go free. The idea that Euthyphro has to learn all about religious and holy things in order to make an educated decision is flawed because you base your decision in your moral values and the values that the church places in you. There is no place in the Bible with this exact circumstance, furthermore if you were going simply off of the ideas of what Jesus would do, he would want mercy to be shown on Euthyphro’s father and for him to not be prosecuted.

    • Question 1: Euthypro’s dilemma is a prime example of the difference between legality and morality. It is of course admirable to disregard personal biases and/or conflicts of interest in order to enact justice, as Euthypro is doing as he prosecutes his father. However, it is difficult to characterize Euthypro’s actions as purely moral, since his father will face a terrible punishment if he’s convicted and it is haunting to imagine a son betraying his father’s trust in this way. Not only is he directly harming his father by prosecuting him, the degree of the crime that his father committed is also in dispute. Euthypro’s father let a man die as a punishment for directly killing someone, which doesn’t necessarily constitute murder. For Euthypro to make such an extreme and harsh judgment of his father, as well as to actively work against his father’s wellbeing, is to place a very large amount of faith in his personal definition of holiness and justice. And as Socrates says, there is no sure way to define holiness, so Euthypro could very well be acting as an unholy man when he condemns his father to a wretched punishment for a morally gray crime. I certainly believe that Euthypro’s father should be prosecuted to some extent, but in my opinion it is immoral and unethical for Euthypro to actively work against his own father. I believe it would be best for another man to prosecute Euthypro’s father so he can avoid the terrible guilt and angst that might plague him if he personally destroys his father’s life.

    • Q1: Euthyphro faces a moral dilemma on whether or not he should prosecute his father for murdering a day-laborer. Socrates in his discussion with Euthyphro poses the question of what equates to holiness in the first place. Thus, pushing Euthyphro to question whether his actions against his dad and his dad’s actions are holy. If Euthyphro himself is not holy what gives him the authority to judge his father and prosecute him. I believe that Euthyphro should take some time to consider his own definitions of mortality, and holiness before judging someone else’s acts to prosecuting them. Obviously, I believe that murder is wrong and should be a punishable offense. However, if Euthyphro takes action without understanding the position he is in, he would be hypocritical. A man who is unholy to determine the holiness of another would be self-righteous.

    • 1. Should anyone discover that their father is a murderer, they would be justifiably shocked, no matter the circumstance. However, some might be less concerned if their father had murdered another murderer rather than an innocent person. In the case of Euthyphro, he was appalled by his father killing another man even though the man was a murderer himself. In fact, Euthyphro was so appalled that he decided to prosecute his dad at the King’s Porch. Given his predicament, Euthyphro upheld his moral stance that murder is wrong and unholy, no matter the circumstance, which is all the more reason to applaud his efforts. I agree that he should act on his beliefs, even at his own family’s expense, to preserve the correct notion of justice and the divine. Aside from the unique case of self-defense, murder is unjust, no matter who is on the receiving end. Therefore, Euthyphro is obligated to prosecute any murderer, including his father, to the full extent of the law.

    • 1. Euthyphro faces a moral dilemma because he needs to decide whether or not to prosecute his father for killing another person, However, there are several things that complicate this situation. The person that was killed was a day worker at the mines but was also a murderer. Other than this, he needs to define holiness so that he can see whether he is fit to prosecute or not. Euthyphro should ask the opinions of others to see if he should persecute his father. Personal relations can often skew these things whether you want to or not. If someone has done something wrong, he should always be persecuted, however, to what extent is what can be influenced.

    • I believe Euthyphro’s moral dilemma is a difficult one for his time and shows the strict division between being legally and morally correct. While for modern-day, it would seem like an easy and unanimous decision to prosecute any murderer, regardless if they were blood-related or not, during Ancient Greek society this was not the moral stance that was held. Prosecuting your own father is seen as taboo and in fact a heinous act due to the heavily patriarchal society they lived in where households were run by fathers and were supposed to be respected. However, personally, the murder that his father committed seems very much unjust, and Euthyphro cannot deny it. However, although I believe that Euthyphro would be making the right decision by following through with the prosecution, there is such gravity to this situation that I cannot personally understand. For one, because he is prosecuting his own father, his may not work out well in his favor, and in fact could get him in greater trouble. Additionally, because of the societal pressures that are held against relationships between children and their fathers, Euthyphro’s predicament of feeling eternally damned for ruining his father’s life is also considerably detrimental to this decision. Lastly, the victim was a murderer himself, and the murder committed by his father was an accident. Therefore, I believe these consequences are much more grave than the consequences he may face if he were to persecute his father, and therefore I believe Euthyphro should leave it be. However, that won’t mean that his father will face punishment later, I just don’t think it would be appropriate for Euthyphro to go through with this.

    • The moral predicament Euthyphro has to face is a difficult one. He prosecutes his father for murder because he believes it to be holy. However, there are many people close to him who believe his actions are irrational. This predicament causes Socrates to ask Euthyphro for a definition of holiness. There is of course no excuse for murder, even though the victim himself had committed the same crime. A person who takes the life of another, regardless of what the victim has done in the past, should be punished in some way. However, the question of whether or not Euthyphro’s actions are considered holy is still a factor in this scenario.

    • Question 1:

      Eurthyphro’s moral predicament is quite usual because he is neither defending his blood nor using the victim’s actions to justify his punishment. In theory, Euthyphro has understandable reasoning to not go against his father (note: not “support” his father, but merely not go against him in front of the state) given that (some people believe) family should support each other no matter what and that his father was punishing the victim on his violent acts against another. It should be recognized that Euthyphro acted on his own moral compass and not the pressures from others- he thought his fathers actions were wrong, he thinks murder in any form is wrong, and he wants to make that clear. However in my opinion, I would not have made the same choices Euthyphro did merely based on my moral compass. Although murder is illegal in all forms, if it was well justified and not an excuse to commit a violent act against another I support it. Like Euthyphro, I believe I would have the strength to follow my own beliefs and not conform to the social constructs of the state.

    • 1). I think Euthyphro is in a pretty rough situation, of course. I also greatly respect him for wanting to pursue legal action against his own farther. I think this is ultimately the right call; murder is not something that can simply be ignored. It is not a question of “justified or not” for, in my view, there is no such scenario besides self-defense where murder is justifiable (and this is not a case of self-defense). One piece of advice I would give to Euthyphro, however, would be to get the help of someone else to prosecute – someone with no connection to his father. If the defendant and plaintiff know each other, it can be very hard for them both to separate from that connection and focus strictly on the facts of the case; oftentimes, it can just lead to tense arguments of emotion. Additionally living with the fact that your father killed someone is already hard enough; I couldn’t imagine having to prosecute against them too. For Euthyphro’s own sake it might be better if someone else took charge of the case.

    • 1. If we don’t know the reason why Euthyphro’s father punished and “murdered” the labor, Euthyphro’s prosecutions of his father could be treated as a fair action. He himself would be considered as a justice man making judgments without being influenced by personal feelings. This kind of person could often make the right choice. It is definitely true that no one should ever murder anyone for any reason. Euthyphro observed his way of doing things. However, the truth is we know why Euthyphro’s father punished and “murdered” the labor: the labor killed another person after he got drunk. Complying with his own moral disciplines, Euthryphro showed sympathy with the one “murdered” by his father, ignoring the one who had been killed by the person with whom he had shown sympathy. In that case, Euthyphro, from my point of view, acted as a sanctimonious person. He thought he was a wise man with justice inside his heart. But choosing to ignore the essence of the event would not lead him to the answer of the problem facing him.

    • Question 1: In the dialogue, Euthyphro faces the predicament of whether or not to prosecute his father for murder. Everyone else believes this is ridiculous, because it is Euthyphro’s own father, and also because the man he murdered was a murderer himself. Additionally, Euthyphro believes this is the right thing to do as Zeus (the most revered of all the Greek gods) was allowed to imprison his father Kronos for swallowing his children; Euthyphro is simply acting in accordance with this and doing what he thinks is the holy thing to do. However, the people of Athens do not hold this same belief. My opinion on Euthyphro’s dilemma is that he is doing the right thing. Similar to Socrates, he is challenging the beliefs of his contemporaries by thinking that everyone should be held to a moral standard (in this case, what is holy), instead of saying that it was acceptable for his father to murder a murderer by means of neglect. As Socrates famously said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Euthyphro is, in a way, doing exactly that; he forgoes the standard practices of his society in order to hold his father accountable.

    • Question 1: Euthyphro is confident that he is acting holy and morally in persecuting his father until Socrates challenges his definition of what it means to be holy, infecting Euthyphro’s mind with insecurity about his choice. He appears to be convincing himself that he is just in his indictment by claiming that the gods would agree that his motion to convict his father is something of holy nature. He feels it is this way because of inherent immorality in the action of murder, thus his father was unholy while he is not acting with holiness. But even the murder itself is controversial in that it is somewhat indirect as there was no physical blow with the purpose of death, but there was malice intent, motivated negligence, and plain cruelty. That paired with others’ dismay that Euthyphro is convicting his own father, and the added ramblings of Socrates, doubt has crept into his mind concerning the indictment. I think that Euthyphro is a weak minded pushover, but of course he is just in prosecuting his father for basically murdering another man.

    • Euthyphro faces a moral predicament on whether or not he should prosecute his own father. His father was the cause of the day-laborer’s death. Euthyphro is put in such a predicament because he cannot make a decision. He does not want to include his emotional attachment to his father as a decision but uses logic instead. He comes to the decision to prosecute his father. He thinks this choice is correct because he feels like it will cleanse his father’s criminal actions. Based on Euthyphro’s actions it is shown that he can isolate his emotions to the situation to determine a correct consequence for his father.

    • Euthyphro’s moral predicament can be narrowed down to familial relationships versus higher truth. Since Euthyphro’s prompted with the decision to whether or not prosecute his father for his murder, he begins to contemplate the essence of morality and holiness where he asks Socrates that if it’s unholier for someone to prosecute their own father. In my opinion, it is normal to mix personal emotions into judging others especially if the culprit is your own father, however, it is still necessary to punish injustice and wrongdoings. Meanwhile, it is without a doubt that in situations like these, a close examination of what is truly just or unjust is needed to maintain one’s sanity. It is also important to compare and contrast one’s own morality with their faith to see if there’s any discrepancy between the two so that one can better understand him/herself.

    • 1. This moral predicament that Euthyphro is facing is on the grounds of whether it is morally correct to prosecute his dad. He is stuck and has to decide using his moral compass if he believes if his fathers actions: killing someone who was already a murder, was just or unjust.
      What complicates his decision making is when Socrates asks him “whether his actions or his fathers were less holy.”

      I believe that prosecuting his father was the right thing. My murdering a killer, his actions by default become just as bad as the killers. Plus that when making rational decision in the eyes of the law, it is important to disregard the emotional ties you may have when you are coming to your conclusion. Therefore I think he made the right decision.

    • The matter at hand seems to be one of complete legalist deontology versus one that incorporates more thought and consideration for unique cases. Generally, following orders and rules mindlessly is ill-advised, as it results in unjust or otherwise unfortunate outcomes. For this case in specific, Euthyphro’s father accidentally killed another man. This, and the degree to which this was an avoidable outcome should factor into his punishment. If, for example, Euthyphro’s father accidentally killed the man in an act of self-defense (which seems to be the case as the man he killed was a murderer), then in accordance to my own set of morals, he should not be prosecuted. Whether or not the murderer’s track record should be considered, is, too, dependent on the exact circumstances. However, what should not be considered is the convicted’s relationship to me (the prosecutor). Any tie between us would inevitably bias the result, (for better or for worse). For Euthyphro, though, there is no question that he should prosecute his own father. Euthyphro acts entirely in accordance with his own strict, deontological rules, in which his own personal relationships with others are irrelevant.

    • 2. Ancient Greeks placed a high value on family bonds. This is the fundamental reason Plato/Socrates considered Euthyphro to be a fool. Even in court, an accused man would most probably mention early in his speech (απόδειξη) his respect for his parents, as an indicator of his ethos. Thus, to a traditional, older figure in Ancient Greece, it would seem peculiar how one would publicly accuse a family member of being a murderer, especially when concerning the defense of a stranger. In particular, throughout his discussion with his interlocutor, Socrates states: “Was the man your father killed a relative? But, of course, he must have been-you would not be prosecuting him for murder in behalf of a stranger.” Socrates continues by challenging Euthyphro to consider, in accordance to the divine law, if he is the one committing a crime, by turning his own father in, this way. It is at that point, that his thoughts about Euthyphro become clearer, when Socrates treats his dialogist with irony by presenting a hypothetical dialogue between himself and Meletus in the court, based on Euthyphro’s assumptions that his profession (mantis) justifies his rooted opinion that his intentions are holy and right. Nonetheless, Plato/Socrates himself does not advise Euthyphro as to how he should act. This aimed to be the result of their dispute, and was to be based on the definition of what is in reality holy and what is unholy. As we have seen in both Plato’s Gorgias and in Abram’s “Spell of the Sensuous”, Socrates seeks to reach true knowledge and a deeper understanding of the situation, by asking his interlocutor a series of questions. This is the case in this dialogue as well. 
Socrates aims to unfold the complexity of such an issue regarding justice.

    • 2. Throughout the dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro, Socrates questions Euthyphro’s claims by implementing his Socratic dialect. In doing so, Socrates urges Euthyphro to answer his question of what is holy and unholy. He is repeatedly unsatisfied with Euthyphro’s replies as they contradict each other. It is clear that Socrates thinks Euthyphro is an ignorant fool for claiming to be a seer, an expert on religious issues, yet not being able to answer a simple question regarding piety. Instead of living by the belief that humans should blindly follow a religion, Socrates wants Euthyphro to understand that what is morally just to the gods should be just to others and these two reasonings should not contradict each other. Since Euthyphro is testifying against his father, his action is looked down upon by others around him, but he goes through with his decision because he believes it is religiously just. This contradictory behavior is what prompts Socrates to view Euthyphro as a fool because what is morally just should be religiously just, but Euthyphro cannot wrap his head around the idea that he should not just blindly follow what he believes is religiously acceptable. Socrates, therefore, wants Euthyphro to incorporate both religious and human morals into his decision, using them hand in hand to solidify whether or not he should testify against his father.

    • Euthyphro is supposedly held in high esteem as a religious expert or seer. Plato/Socrates finds it ironic, then, that he does not fully consider the religious meaning behind his moral conflict. Socrates purposefully asks Euthyphro to make a distinction between what is holy and what is unholy, to which Euthyphro replies that a holy thing is dear to the gods and unholy things hateful to the gods, and points out Zeus’ treatment of his own father. In a series of increasingly prodding questions, Socrates points out that, if the popular myths are true, the gods themselves can’t even decide what is holy and what is unholy; they have enemies and wars, and different gods find different things to be hateful and ungrateful. Consequently, Euthyphro is not prepared to make this decision based on the common sensus of justice. Socrates/Plato thinks that, before making any decision towards the fate of his father, he should delve deeper into what is just in this specific situation, as opposed blindly going with the grain.

    • 3.
      Socrates treats Euthyphro in a very similar way to how he treated Gorgias. He finds these men who believe that they are incredibly knowledgeable in a particular area, and he questions just how deep their knowledge truly is. Furthermore, both circumstances leave the interlocutor of Socrates very frustrated, mainly because Socrates constantly interrogates them in order to challenge their preconceived thoughts. In the end, neither situation ends with a solution or answer, but instead with even more questions. Naturally, this is how Socrates wishes to debate philosophy and politics, forcing his opponent to find answers that they had probably never even thought to consider; and inevitably, Socrates leads them to frustration with their inability to answer his lines of questioning with proper responses- which might lead them to deeply contemplate their positions and the reasons behind their decisions.

    • 3. In both of Plato’s dialogues, the interlocutors (Gorgias and Euthyphro) have an art in which they claim to be specialized in. For Gorgias, it is the art of rhetoric and for Euthyphro, he claims to be a mantis. And for both interlocutors, Socrates interrogates them with a multitude of questions derived from one purpose, to understand their perspective of what exactly it is it that they do. At the end of this interrogatory confrontation, Socrates concludes that both Gorgias and Euthyphro are not as well versed on their art as they had claimed.

      Well it seems that the main purpose of Socrates’ questioning is to get a deeper understanding of rhetoric and the art of mantis, it is all on the surface behind a bigger motive. For most of the dialogue, we can see that Socrates is trying to make his interlocutor feel like they know it all by complimenting on their extensive knowledge of their art. However, as we reach the ending, his interlocutor becomes less persistent with their answers and more confused on what they are saying themselves. This is when Socrates completely refutes the arguments of his interlocutor and enlightens them with his own views of their profession. In doing so, Socrates becomes the teacher and his interlocutor becomes the student.

    • 3.
      A clear similarity I see between the treatment of Gorgias and Euthyphro is the way Socrates questions Gorgias and Euthyphro about their perspective beliefs. Again, using the Socratic Dialect, Socrates questions Euthyphro on the definition of what is holy and unholy. Even though Euthyphro gives Socrates an answer to what is holy, Socrates is not satisfied with this answer and continues to dig at Euthyphro. This forces Euthyphro to dig a little deeper and look for answers and perspectives he never considered before. This, in turn, makes Euthyphro’s argument a little more complex because when talking back and forth with Socrates, he also learns how to explain his argument with new reasons and more intricate thoughts.

    • The similarities between Socrates’ treatment of Gorgias and Euthyphro are stark. Gorgias and Euthyphro both think their intellectual abilities are of a more supreme nature than the masses and Socrates essentially dismantles both of their lines of thinking in a very identical way. Of course, Socrates uses his very own Socratic method to repeatedly ask both men a flurry of questions to explain themselves, and the same thing happens in both situations. They both crumble. Many can claim to be an expert in a specific area of knowledge, and most won’t question it, but Socrates is always keen to know where the truth lies in terms of the level of their ‘expertness’. Euthyphro never provides a definitive answer to Socrates’ question regarding the difference between the “holy and unholy” in respect to the Gods, and results in Socrates saying, “are you not aware our account has gone round and come back to the same place?”. Socrates’ philosophical objective is clear and consistent from his treatment of Gorgias and now Euthyphro, he is keen to scrutinize and find out who are the true ‘experts’ and who truly has all the knowledge they proclaim to have.

    • 3. Socrates treats Georgias in a similar way he treats Euthyphro. Georgias and Euhtyphro start very confidently with their beliefs and their knowledge. However, as Socrates uses a Socratic method to question Euthyphro and Georgias, they start to lose their belief they started within the first place. Socrates in both cases does not straight up to reveal the answer to Georgias and Euthyphro, but instead, he guides them to find out the answer by themselves. He is simply there to guide them by asking complex and controversial questions. We can see that Georgias and Euthyphro are frustrated with Socrates because he is refuting all of their arguments. For example, when Euthyphro talks about his definition of holy and unholy, Socrates is not happy with his answer and starts questioning Euthyphro’s beliefs. After multiple, complex questions and disagreements, Euthyphro can dig deeper in understating Holy and Unholy with the help of Socrates’ guidance. Euthyphro and Georgias both are sort of persuaded by Socrates’ teaching. It is almost as if Socrates is the professor and Euthyphro and Georgias are the students.

    • 3. Socrates, similarly to Gorgias, uses Socratic Dialect to question Euthyphro and to deepen his understanding of their discussion: what is the holy and what is the unholy. In their conversation, Socrates poses numerous questions to interrogate Euthyphro, and believes Euthyphro’s answers to be unclear and contradicting. He is unsatisfied with Euthyphro’s thoughts and understanding of the concept of holy things, and urges Euthyphro to expand his idea and truly “examine what it is we are saying.” This technique is similar to Socrates and Gorgias’ dialogue as Socrates forces Euthyphro to separate himself from his thinking. By using this method, Socrates comes to the conclusion that Euthyphro, like Gorgias, does not have the complex knowledge of a seer he claims to possess. Ultimately, Socrates’ use of the Socratic Dialect truly dissects and picks apart his interlocutors’ critical thinking, and reveals their true understanding of their expertise in the arts.

    • In “ The Spell of the Sensuous” George Abrams defines Socratic Dialectic as “asking a speaker to explain what he has said (109). Given this definition of what Socratic dialectic is, we are able to draw comparisons between how Plato treats Gorgias and how Socrates treats Euthyphro. Both Plato and Socrates use seemingly simple questions to question Gorgias and Euthyphro. However, the purpose of these simple questions is to dive deeper into the arguments of both Gorgias and Euthyphro. Plato continuously asks Gorgias what rhetoric is, for his own understanding but to also learn what sets rhetoric apart from the other forms of art. Similarly, Socrates asks Euthyphro what is holy and unholy to help Euthyphro justify going against his father. Although this technique may seem redundant, it is important in helping both Gorgias and Euthyphro craft a strong argument. By asking these important questions, these philosophers are helping these men prepare for potential opposition. Gorgias is not used to being questioned, however if the opportunity arises, because of the questions asked by Plato, he will be able to accurately define what is rhetoric and how it is not like other popular forms of art. Likewise, it is important for Euthyphro to define what is holy and unholy in order to prove that what his father did was unholy and make a strong case against him.

    • 3. The way Socrates treats Euthyphro is very similar to the way he treats Gorgias in which he feigns ignorance and questions the opponent’s knowledge on their expertise. In the same manner that Socrates interrogates Gorgias, he also questions Euthyphro’s so-called mastery over all that is holy. Euthyphro is so holy and devout that he’s even able to persecute his own father for his wrongdoings. Socrates hearing about this decides to see for himself if this is true and poke holes in the ethics of Euthyphro. He does this in a similar manner to to his time with Gorgias, in which Socrates employs Socratic dialogue, and forces Euthyphro to define and defend his knowledge. However, to Euthyphro’s dismay, none of his answers seem to definitively satisfy Socrates as Socrates points out all the flaws and holes in his logic. I think the reason why Socrates does this is because Socrates or Plato is trying to show ethics isn’t as definitive as Euthyphro makes out to seem and rather, it can be confusing to navigate between what’s right and wrong.

    • Similarly to how Socrates treats Gorgias, he also applies the Socratic Method in his conversation with Euthyphryos. Just like how Gorgias seemed to be an “expert in rhetoric,” Euthyphryos seemed to know much about piety. In both scenarios, Socrates was not looking for specific examples of the respective topics. Still, more so looking to see if questioned enough, Gorgias and Euthyphryos can develop a clear and direct definition of either rhetoric or piety. As the conversations continue, the interlocutors eventually are not as confident as they originally were. After their loss of faith in their own argument, Socrates proceeds to humiliate them like when he says to Euthyphryus “As I said, you are lazy and soft because of your wealth of wisdom.” Both discussions end with more questions instead of answers.

    • 3. The biggest similarity between Gorgias and Euthyphro is the well-used tactic of questioning in order to prove a certain point. This occurred many times throughout both pieces of writing, nonetheless, Gorgias and Euthyphro answered using extremely similar language. Both characters practically answered every question with a simple yes or no, yet changed the way they answered every time. While Plato treated both characters identically, Plato’s use of rhetoric is clearly demonstrated throughout both passages and exhibits an established dynamic between characters. Socrates had been practicing this style of debate and found that it was the most effective and efficient method of questioning and obtaining information. Using this to his advantage, Socrates was able to question Gorgias and Euthyphro adequately.

    • Socrates approaches Euthyphro in a similar manner to how he spoke with Gorgias. He is very skeptical about Euthyphro’s claimed expertise in his field and proceeds to interrogate him using his esteemed Socratic method of repeated questioning. Like with Gorgias, Socrates is left feeling unimpressed with Euthyphro’s expertise and declares that he is not as much of an expert as he claims to be. I think Socrates socratic method is a good way to test someone’s perceived knowledge in a field, but it can sometimes seem unfair and that it solely aims to prove that someone is not an expert, because there is theoretically no end to the questioning until the questioner is satisfied with their result.

    • 3. Socrates’ treatment of Gorgias and Euthyphro were quite similar to one another. In both dialogues, Socratic Dialect was present. Throughout the conversations, Socrates constantly asked questions to develop and reveal either Gorgias or Euthyphro’s knowledge. Through the constant questioning, we can see Socrates desiring them to reveal their knowledge, however, from the dialogue we can also see that the interlocutors are frustrated. The interlocutors seem done with all the questions, yet when Socrates continues to ask questions they can only answer to the best of their abilities. In the end, while in the beginning it may appear that the interlocutors know what they were saying, by Socrates’s constant questioning, it appears that they are not as confident as they once were. It means that Socrates’s questions were designed to have the other party to truly think about their answers and develop their understanding to something that could be extraordinary.

    • 3. Socrates treats Euthyphro and Gorgias similarly during their conversations. In both dialogues, while he doesn’t fully reckon both their professions, Socrates would put himself in a place as a student and say he wants to learn from both Euthyphro and Gorgias who claim they are experts in certain areas. Then, he uses the Socratic method to question the expertise of Euthyphro and Gorgias and then to make the interlocutors actually reflect on their answers. By constantly throwing questions to both of the interlocutors, he is able to revive confirmed answers from them even though they would not admit it previously. Therefore, while it seems like he questions the interlocutors again and again in order to obtain information about a professional area, Socrates, step by step, challenges the ideas of his interlocutors.

    • 3. Socrates treats Gorgias and Euthyphro quite similarly in both of Plato’s dialogues, as he makes use of the Socratic Dialect, forcing them to rethink their previous ideas. While talking with Euthyphro, Socrates continually questions him, as Euthyphro believes that it is moral to prove his father guilty of murder. Socrates asks him about his specific beliefs, such as what is defined as holy or unholy, to try and get him to see the larger picture of this trial. It appears that Socrates is not only trying to deepen Euthyphro’s understanding of the topic at hand but is also attempting to convince him that his position is wrong. While on the surface the Socratic Dialect is meant to enhance someone’s understanding of a topic and broaden their oral vocabulary, there appears to be an underlying purpose of debate in terms of proving one’s point. In both Gorgias’ and Euthyphro’s dialects, Socrates does not agree with his converser’s point of view and although he may be enhancing their perspectives, he is also proving his own claim in the process. Hence, Socrates makes use of the Socratic Dialect by asking numerous questions in both of his philosophical conversations in order to not only advance the depth and breadth of the discussion but additionally to prove his argument.

    • 3. The dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphryo similarly depict Socrates’ style of reasoning and Socratic questioning that pushes his fellow interlocutor into further understanding. In his discussion with Gorgias, Socrates was debating with the famous rhetorician using dialectic questioning as a means to separate the ego from the problem. In this conversation with Euthyphyo, Socrates similarly pushes the religious seer to further question his morals and the correct choice between sentencing his father to death or sparing him for the sake of his family.

      “But in the name of Zeus, Euthyphro, do you think you yourself know so accurately how matters stand respecting divine law, and things holy and unholy, that with the facts as you declare you can prosecute your own father without fear that it is you, on the contrary, who are doing an unholy thing?” In this direct quote, Socrates is pushing the “wise” seer to truly question what is morally just. He even goes so far to assert that his immediate actions and decided mind without further consideration make him unholy. This toggle back and forth between aligning Euthyphyo’s actions with those of the gods only ends in more questions. However, this should be expected of such a complex situation, proving not all moral questions have the clearest answer. Through philosophical questioning, Socrates shows us that these situations require thought and ultimately sacrifice.

    • There is a clear and apparent similarity in the treatment of both Gorgias and Euthyphro. Both figures are well regraded in ancient Greek society; Gorgias being a renowned rhetorician who argues for the sake of arguing while Euthyphro is a seer and someone who acts in the way the gods would have wanted. In other words, Euthyphro was pious. They both were listened to and judged by the public, demanding rather compelling rhetorical skills and arguments. So, the parallel present between these two accounts is the prevalent Socratic method. The means in which Socrates/Plato engaged with both Gorgias and Euthyphro is through the proposal of questions and ultimate reflection on one’s words. The Socratic method allowed for both Gorgias and Euthyphro to conceptualize and go over their arguments and claims they were currently telling the people. Questions like “[w]hat is it?” in Plato’s “The Euthyphro” depict the Socratic method in action. These simple questions directed towards Euthyphro’s claims are what make the rather religiously rooted messages/argument of the prosecution of his father all more compelling. A deeper understanding of Euthyphro’s claim was discovered (just as it was concluded with Gorgia’s defense of Helen of Troy). As a result of the back and forth nature of the Socratic method, one’s argument is clear as can be because of the numerous ways the argument is viewed via the Socratic method.

    • It is to my understanding that Euthyphro is facing a very deep and philosophical dilemma in dissecting the role of morality and conscientiousness in our societies. He argues that independent of God and his commandments, humanity should have a standard of living and ethical compass. However, if it were to be that God commanded cruelty or wrong-doing, it is perceived His followers would oblige and carry out his will.

      These concepts present independent thinking and logic. Through theism, it is evident that followers and believers shape their livelihoods around the presented righteousness of the given faith. Understanding whether or not God’s wishes have a deeper and all-encompassing value or truth means one has to go back to the reality of humanity’s role — our moral compass or common sense.

      I believe Euthyphro is just in questioning whether or not what is deemed good by Christianity is innately virtuous. In my opinion, it is natural to question faith and its role in our lives. However, it is taught that we, as human beings, will never have the capacity to completely understand God and His omnipotence.

      As told by Saint Augustine while he was writing a book on the Trinity of Christianity: “he was walking by the seaside one day, meditating on the difficult problem of how God could be three Persons at once. He came upon a little child. The child had dug a little hole in the sand, and with a small spoon or seashell was scooping water from the sea into the small hole. Augustine watched him for a while and finally asked the child what he was doing. The child answered that he would scoop all the water from the sea and pour it into the little hole in the sand. ‘What?’ Augustine said. ‘That is impossible. Obviously, the sea is too large and the hole too small.’ ‘Indeed,’ said the child, ‘but I will sooner draw all the water from the sea and empty it into this hole than you will succeed in penetrating the mystery of the Holy Trinity with your limited understanding.’ Augustine turned away in amazement and when he looked back the child had disappeared.”


      This is how I personally conduct my faith. Although I will always try to understand and analyze God and how His power is present in our existence, I quickly realize that there will always be things to learn, and even sometimes, things I will be unable to completely fathom. But, I will always ask questions in an attempt to advance my knowledge of what it was that drove generations of people to follow the works of Christ and all that he stands for. I will always try to better understand how to be the best person and human I can be.

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