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Euthyphro 2 Notes

Classics Notes > Plato’s Meno and Euthyphro Notes

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In this difficult section of the Euthyphro Socrates attempts to show that 'god-loved' cannot give the essence of to hosion. This part of the discussion starts at 10a with Socrates asking the question "is the holy approved by the gods because it's holy or holy because it's approved?" To explain the difference between these two ideas to Euthyphro he starts by pointing out the difference between saying "being carried" and "carrying" (he says the same for leading and approving throughout the argument.) He then extends this to say that a thing is said to be "being carried" because it "gets carried" and not that it "gets carried" before it is "being carried". The jump from active to passive verbs while still maintaining the same distinction may seem strange, but Cohen points out that inflected verb is simply taking the place of the active one so that, "something is a x-ed thing because someone x-s it, not someone x-s a thing because it is a x-ed thing." This is also surely true because in order for one to say something "gets carried" it would first have to be in a state of "being carried", otherwise the statement wouldn't make much sense. Patzig attempts to explain this by saying, "If something is brought about (or produced) or affected in any way, the thing which is in a state of being produced is not produced because it is a thing in the state of being produced, but the other way around." Socrates then again extends this analogy to another verb more central to his argument, "approving". Therefore he is able to conclude that the holy is approved by the gods because it is holy and not holy as a result of this approval. By this logic he is able to go further and conclude that "pious" does not equal "god-loved". This is because "god-loved" is only so because it is just that "god-loved", whereas "pious" is "god-loved" because it is "pious" NOT just because it is "god-loved". If we took the statement "x is loved by the gods, because it is x" it would be true for to hosion but false for theophiles; therefore the two are not equivalent. In order to prove his point Socrates says that if they were the same then, "if the holy were getting approved because of its being holy, then the divinely approved would be getting approved because of it being divinely approved." This defence holds up because the latter half of the sentence is nonsense; you can't approve something because you've already approved it. Socrates also says, "if the divinely approved were divinely approved on account of its getting approved by the gods, then the holy would be holy too on account of its getting approved." Another way to explain it is this:1. TRUE: x is loved by because it is pious.

2. FALSE: x is pious because it is loved by the gods.

3. TRUE: x is god-loved because it is loved by the gods.

4. FALSE: x is loved by the gods because it is god-loved. If they were the same they could be used inter-changeably, but they are not; replacing pious with god-loved in <1> would result in <4>, which is false. Also replacing godloved with pious in <3> would lead to <2>, which again turns a true statement into a false one. This is the logic by which Socrates proves that "pious" is not equivalent to "godloved".

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