Euthyphro – Plato

This short read from Plato is an enjoyable dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro on the nature of piety, morality, and virtue.

The major idea to come out of this book is known as the Euthyphro Dilemma, which deals with the nature of morality.

“Is the pious or holy beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods.”

Essentially, it highlights the conundrum that if morality is what pleases the Gods then either:

  • it pleases the Gods because it is good (absolute)
  • it is good because it pleases the Gods (relative)

Or to put it another way:

  • God only wills what is morally good (absolute morality)
  • anything that God wills is morally good, just because he willed it (relative morality)

The reason this is a dilemma is that if there is:

  • absolute morality, then God is just a messenger for what is Good, and ultimately we could cut him out and go straight to the truth.
  • relative morality, then as soon as God changes his opinion about what is Good, then all morality changes. What if there are multiple Gods? Who’s opinion rules?

Euthyphro – Plato ( Amazon , Goodreads )

Related

Notes

  • Crux: the god-virtue conundrum
  • do the gods like what is virtuous (absolute virtue), or is what the gods like virtuous (relative virtue).
  • aka, is there an absolute virtue that the Gods can know
  • If there is, then Gods word is simply a proxy for this absolute virtue
  • If there is not, then Virtue is subject to change depending on the Gods preferences
  • If there is not, and there are multiple Gods, then how can there be an absolute consensus?

Quotes

  • “The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods.”
  • “Any state of action or passion implies previous action or passion.”
  • “The state of being loved follows the act of being loved, and not the act the state.”
  • “It is loved because it is holy, not holy because it is loved?”

sebastiankade

Sebastian Kade, Founder of Sumry and Author of Living Happiness, is a software designer and full-stack engineer. He writes thought-provoking articles every now and then on sebastiankade.com

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