Item description for Plato: Euthyphro by C. Emlyn-Jones, C. Emlyn Jones & Plato...
This edition contains the Greek text of Plato's dialogue "Euthyphro "with Introduction, Notes and Appendices.The Introduction gives an account of the historical background to the dialogue and the nature and merits of its arguments. The Notes focus on literary and linguistic matters, and the three Appendices discuss particular philosophical question raised by the dialogue.
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More About C. Emlyn-Jones, C. Emlyn Jones & Plato
Chris Emlyn-Jones is Emeritus Professor of Classical Studies at The Open University.
C. Emlyn-Jones has published or released items in the following series...
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Socrates and Euthyphro discuss the meaning of "piety" Aug 19, 2002
The Platonic dialogue "Euthyphro" relates a dialectic between Socrates and Euthyphro on the meaning of piety. Because at the time of the dialogue Socrates had been charged with impiety and is about to be tried, convicted and sentenced to death, "Euthyphro" is of particular interest, especially when read in connection with "Apology," "Crito," and "Phaedo." While Socrates is facing his impiety trial, Euthyphro is the plaintiff in an upcoming murder trial: a poor relation of his family had killed a domestic servant and Euthyphro's father had the guilty man bound and thrown into a ditch; while waiting for instructions from Athens on what should be done to the man, he died, and Euthyphro's father was charged with murder. Euthyphro had a reputation for being a sophists ("wise person"), as well as a soothsayer and diviner, who had taught morals and politics.
Socrates asks Euthyphro "What is piety?" A series of different answers are provided, none of which prove satisfactory to Socrates after he examines them through dialectical engagement. At the end of the dialogue Socrates insists he still does not understand what piety is and suggests Euthyphro to continue to search for its true meaning before making any decisions regarding is father. The implications for Socrates own trial, of course, are rather obvious, but the reader is well aware how that particular trial is going to play out.
The dialogue also presents two competing notions of religion. For Euthyphro religion means giving the gods gifts so that you can receive benefits, which conforms to the view of Greek gods found in classical mythology with regards to their powers and behavior. In contrast, Socrates does not accept these myths as being real stories and while he never articulates much beyond the idea of a divine voice which warms him not to do certain things, there is reason to believe Socrates is, by his own definition at least, a devout and religious person. However, as H.L. Mencken once remarked, blasphemy is your irreverence towards my deity, and ultimately this is what sends Socrates to his state ordered suicide.
More interesting, from my perspective, is the discussion regarding piety in relation to justice, where Socrates rejects the distinction between service to the gods and service to men. Certainly his insistence that duty to the gods and to other human beings are one in the same is a more modern view. It is through this part of the dialogue that we get our best look at Socrates's view of religion, where the goal is to bring your life into harmony with the will of the divine. Socrates saw a divine purpose in the creation of the world and believed it was to advance the moral and spiritual development of human beings. Consequently, in the final analysis, Socrates sees morality as resting not constantly changing human opinion, but rather with the unchangeable will of God.