Toward a Definition of Holiness in Euthyphro

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Towards a Definition of Holiness in "Euthyphro" The concept of holiness emerges in the dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro as a result of Euthyphro's assertion that he intends to prosecute his own father for murder even though critics accuse him of being impious (that is, unholy). Euthyphro divulges this information after hearing Socrates' own reason for going to court, which is to defend himself against the accusation of corrupting the youth. Thus, the two men have similar reasons for going to court: both pertain to the question of what it means to be pious/holy. The question of holiness takes such a prominent position in the dialogue because Socrates sees in his discourse with Euthyphro the opportunity to distinguish between true and false holiness. This paper will present Euthyphro's three definitions of holiness, explain how Socrates refutes each one, examine Socrates' goal in the dialogue, provide my own definition of piety/holiness, and imagine Socrates' response to it. Euthyphro's first definition of holiness is self-centered in that he refers to himself as an example of holiness. In other words, to prosecute one who is guilty of murder is pious and to not do so is impious. This definition is not really a definition but rather an attempt to justify his prosecution of his father. Socrates' refutation of this definition is to make a joke at Euthyphro's expense: Socrates states that when he asked for a definition of piety he was told that piety is to charge
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