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Socrates and Plato. The Origin of Philosophy. Origin of Western Philosophy. Religion and Mythology Greek City-States Athenian Democracy Thales (640-546 BC) Materialists Reason and Metaphysics . 470-399 BC Primarily concerned with ethical questions Socratic Method

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socrates and plato

Socrates and Plato

The Origin of Philosophy

origin of western philosophy
Origin of Western Philosophy
  • Religion and Mythology
  • Greek City-States
  • Athenian Democracy
  • Thales (640-546 BC)
  • Materialists
  • Reason and Metaphysics
socrates and plato3
470-399 BC

Primarily concerned with ethical questions

Socratic Method

Did not write any philosophical texts

427-347 BC

Socrates’ student

Documented Socrates’ life and philosophy

Developed his own philosophical ideas

Socrates and Plato
socrates and euthyphro
Socrates and Euthyphro
  • Setting: Outside the courthouse.
  • Socrates is being indicted for corrupting the youth, inventing new gods, and not believing in the gods of the city.
  • Euthyphro is prosecuting his own father for murder.
ethical questions conflicting duties
Ethical Questions: Conflicting Duties
  • In determining whether to prosecute, Euthyphro says, “one should only ask whether the killer acted justly or not.”
  • One’s duty is to justice above family.
  • Antigone and conflicting duties.
  • What do you think?
the search for piety
The Search for Piety
  • Socrates says only a person “ far advanced in wisdom” would prosecute his own father.
  • Euthyphro claims to have knowledge of piety.
  • Such knowledge would help Socrates in court.
  • Socrates desires to be Euthyphro’s “pupil.”
what is the form of piety
What is the form of piety?
  • Socrates asks, “what kind of thing do you say that godliness and ungodliness are, both as regards murder and other things; or is the pious not the same and alike in every action, and the impious the opposite of all that is pious and like itself, and everything that is to be impious presents us with one form or appearance in so far as it is impious?”


first definition

“What I am doing now, to prosecute the wrong doer.”

Euthyphro is following the example of Zeus, who bound his own father for unjustly swallowing his own sons.


“I did not bid you to tell me one or two of the many pious actions, but the form itself.”

Socrates is suspicious of Euthyphro’s views of the gods.

Do the gods fight?

First Definition
second definition

“What is dear to the gods is pious, what is not is impious.”


Gods have different views about what is pious and impious.

Second Definition

“The same things then are loved by the gods and

hated by the gods . . . And

the same things would be both pious and impious.”

third definition
Third Definition


  • “The pious is what all the gods love and the opposite, what all the gods hate, is impious.”


  • “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?”
the third definition problems
The Third Definition: Problems
  • If the gods love the pious because it is pious, then we have not determined what makes it pious.
  • If the pious is pious because it is loved by the gods, then piety depends on the will of the gods.
    • Do the gods create morality? If so, then morality seems to have no fixed standards.
religion and morality
Religion and Morality
  • Debate in Medieval Philosophy
  • Voluntarism: Moral standards are created by God’s will.
  • God is not limited by morality.
  • Is morality dependent upon religion?
  • What do you think?
the dialogue continues

“Now, if you will, do not hide things from me, but tell me from the beginning what piety is.”


“I have no way of telling you what I have in mind, for whatever proposition we put forward goes around and refuses to stay put.”

The Dialogue Continues
piety and justice
Piety and Justice
  • Socrates asks whether piety is simply a part of justice, or is identical with justice.
  • Euthyphro claims piety is the part of justice “concerned with the care of the gods.”
and so we return

Is caring for gods the same as improving?

Is service some sort of trading between gods and men?

But what makes piety pleasing to the gods?


No. The gods are not improved by us.

Perhaps. But it is to do things that please the gods.

Time to go.

And so we return . . .
what do you think
What do you think?
  • Is there an answer that would satisfy Socrates?
  • If not, what is the purpose of questioning?
  • Does Socrates believe Euthyphro is wise?
  • How do you feel about Socrates? Explain.