The Incompleteness of Plato's Euthyphro Essay

Decent Essays
The Incompleteness of Plato's Euthyphro

The Euthyphro, like other Platonic dialogues, seeks to uncover the definition of a virtue. In its case, the virtue is piety. In the end, the dialogue fails to uncover this definition, rendering an impression of incompleteness. On account of the dialogue's dual effect -- the presentation of Socrates' spirit as well as the Greeks' inability to define piety -- explanations for its incompleteness often place too much emphasis on Socrates and, as a result, fail to unearth its true genesis. Some students argue, for example, that the failure to define piety is induced by the non-existence of the Gods, which they declare Socrates implied through out his life. Hence arises the purpose of this
…show more content…
He then delineates the circumstances of his case: an inferior day laborer cut the throat of a slave and, after being bound by Euthyphro's father, died inadvertently as he attempted to get advice from a priest. Socrates asks Euthyphro if he has enough divine knowledge to prosecute his father under such extraordinary circumstances. Euthyphro responds affirmatively.

Thus, Socrates asks Euthyphro "…what sort of thing…the pious and impious are…" (Plato, Euthyphro, 5d) and "…is not the holy, just by itself, the same in every action…" (Plato, Euthyphro, 5d). Euthyphro, responding to the second question first, affirms that piety and impiety have discernible characteristics. Subsequently, he states that piety is "…prosecuting murder and temple theft and everything of the sort…"(Plato, Euthyphro, 5e). Socrates points out that this answer is not a definition, since, instead of stating what constitutes piety, it merely provides examples of it. Consequently, Euthyphro states that piety is what is dear to the gods. Socrates responds that, if the gods disagree as Euthyphro previously states in the dialogue, different gods would believe that different things are "…just and beautiful and ugly, good and evil…" (Plato, Euthyphro, 7e). Thus,
    Get Access