The Question of Piety Essay

The Question of Piety Essay

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The concept of piety is one long discussed among philosophers. In fact, Socrates yearned to learn the exact definition of piety, with which he could defend himself against accusations of impiety. In his quest for this information he inquired of Euthyphro, who claimed to be both pious, and knowledgeable about the very nature of piety, as Euthyphro brought about the trial of his father for murder. Socrates considered all that Euthyphro said in order to understand the very nature of the concept, and in his thirst for knowledge managed to dismantle all versions of the definition offered to him by Euthyphro.
The first definition offered to Socrates by Euthyphro, who claimed to know all about what was pious, and not, was to do as Euthyphro did in prosecuting his father, or anyone who had committed murder, sacrilege, or a similar crime, regardless of relation to the accuser, as Zeus had done Cronos (Plato & Jowett, 2008). Socrates attested that he was in the position of being accused of impiety because of his lack of knowledge and belief in the gods on which society was then based. He questioned Euthyphro as to whether the tales of the gods were true, to which Euthyphro pompously claimed to know for a fact that they were. In desiring to know with surety as Euthyphro claimed to, he further pursued the question of piety, without the diversion of determining which acts could be deemed as pious or impious.
Socrates stated “Tell me what is the nature of this idea, and then I shall have a standard to which I may look, and by which I may measure actions” (Plato & Jowett, 2008), to which Euthyphro responded with his second attempt at defining piety as “that which is dear to the gods, and impiety is that which is not dear to them” (Plato & Jowe...


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...y only be pious if, by doing so, they are honoring a god (or group of gods) wishes. Socrates may further challenge me by questioning the foundation of knowledge of a god's wishes, to which I would respond also with reference to the holy documents a person follows.
As an questioner, myself, I wish that I would have had a chance to converse with Socrates on a variety of topics, for I believe he was a wise man, contrary to the assertions made to Euthyphro. Previously, I have questioned the value of studying philosophy, but I have come to understand that questioning things, and examining others viewpoints on topics, does lead to greater understanding, if only the understanding that we cannot know everything, or perhaps anything with certainty.



Works Cited

Plato, & Jowett, B. (2008). Euthyphro. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1642

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