Euthyphro – Plato
Holiness is a central theme in the Socratic dialogue with Euthyphro. Socrates has taken up the ironic role of a student in the narrative as he attempts to gain knowledge of what holiness entails, from Euthyphro. Socrates meets with Euthyphro as they meet at a court in Athens. He seeks to gain knowledge on holiness, such that, he can use the insights in his trial against Meletus. Earlier, Meletus had charged him for impiety in a court. This justifies the importance that has been placed on the idea. In the ensuing dialogue, Euthyphro serves different definitions of holiness to Socrates. However, each of these is questioned, casting ambiguity over his supposed knowledge.
In his first attempt, Euthyphro defines holiness as persecution of religious dissidents. In that regard, the teacher highlights that holiness is what the gods approve. Actions that support their worship are, therefore, deemed as holy to them. One such action is the persecution of individuals that go against the teaching of the gods. However, Socrates questions this understanding. He argues that there are many holy actions that go beyond persecution of religious dissidents. Similarly, he cites that the gods have often quarrelled among themselves. They, therefore, approve of different things. Socrates, therefore, argues that there is no inherent understanding of holiness among different individuals (Plato. & Gallop, 1997).
In his second attempt, Euthyphro posits that holiness is what has been approved of by all the gods. However, Socrates argues that what is holy and what has been approved of the gods cannot be the same. He highlights the ambiguous argument that what is holy is determined by the gods, yet what is holy directs what the gods will approve. Simple reasoning dictates that the two cannot be perceived as the same. In another attempt, Euthyphro posits that holiness correlates to justice, in a religious sense. The teacher has defined it as justice focused on protecting the...