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Plato, Socrates, and Euthyphro . World Literature Mr. Brennan. Do-Now. Divine Command Is something morally right because God commands it, or does God command it because it is morally right? . AGENDA.

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Plato, Socrates, and Euthyphro

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plato socrates and euthyphro

Plato, Socrates, and Euthyphro

World Literature

Mr. Brennan



Divine Command

Is something morally right

because God commands it,


does God command it

because it is morally right?



SWBAT annotate the logical reasoning of Socrates' stance on piety and morality as presented in Plato's Euthyphro.



  • Mini-Lecture: Plato & Socrates
  • Class Reading: Euthyphro (pg. 102-110; pgs. 9)


Reading and Corresponding Questions




(428/427 or 424/423 BC – 348/347 BC)

was a philosopher in Classical Greece, and

student of Socrates. He is the author of

philosophical dialogues, and founder of

the Academy in Athens, the first institution

of higher learning in the Western world.

Along with his mentor, Socrates,

and his student, Aristotle,

Plato helped to lay the foundations

of Western philosophy and science.


(c. 469 BC – 399 BCE) was a classical

Greek Athenian philosopher, credited

as a founder of Western philosophy,

As portrayed in Plato's dialogues,

Socrates has become renowned for:

  • his contribution to the field of ethics
  • as well as the field of epistemology
  • the Socratic method, or elenchus
  • the concepts of Socratic irony

The influence of his ideas and approach remains

a strong foundation for much western philosophy that followed.

ethics nature of human morality
Ethics: Nature of Human Morality

Central to Socrates' teaching is the association of

goodness with knowledge and evil with ignorance.

One of his more famous doctrines is that

no one ever knowingly does wrong.

Thus, Socrates' stated purpose in life is to bring people to greater wisdom by questioning them, revealing their ignorance.

In improving people's wisdom, he makes them more virtuous.

epistemology knowledge theory of recollection
Epistemology/Knowledge:Theory of Recollection

According to Socrates,

all knowledge is known from previous experience.

His belief is that we already know everything and

have known it since we were born,

we simply recall these facts from memory

when we re-learn them.

socratic method
Socratic Method

The elenchus begins with Socrates' an individual claiming to have a perfect understanding of some term, usually an ethical term (i.e. justice, virtue, piety).

Socrates then proceeds to question this individual about their knowledge of that term, trying to arrive at the essence of the matter.

Usually, he/she will manage to find several cases which exemplify that term, but will have trouble saying what they all have in common that make the given term apply to them.

Through careful interrogation, Socrates will show that they do not in fact know anything more than a few scattered and imprecise examples.

socratic irony
Socratic Irony

The irony lies in Socrates' manner of wholeheartedly accepting the “expert’s” claim to see where it leads.

Socrates and the reader know perfectly well that he will ultimately find this claim unsatisfactory, but this can only be discovered by the expert if Socrates at least appears to accept the definition at the outset.


We can easily see Socrates' conviction that true knowledge of a concept comes only when we can properly define it.

Euthyphro claims to be an expert with regard to what is pious (holy) and what is impious (unholy).

Plato, in later dialogues, will ultimately conclude that the Theory of Forms is the only way to provide satisfactory definitions; when you identify its true essence.