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Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Euthyphro Dilemma


SOCRATES: Then what do we say about piety? Isn’t it what is loved by all the gods, according to your definition?


SOCRATES: Just because it is pious, or for some other reason?

EUTHYPHRO: No, because it is pious.

SOCRATES: So it is loved because it is pious, not pious because it is loved?

EUTHYPHRO: It seems so.

SOCRATES: But it is because a thing is loved by the gods that it is an object of love or god-beloved.

EUTHYPHRO: Of course.

SOCRATES: Then what is god-beloved is not the same as what is pious, Euthyphro, nor is what is pious the same as what is god-beloved, as you assert; they are two different things

Let's express the Euthyphro Dillema from the perspective of monotheistic religions: is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God? Either way you take you arrive at a dead point. Great philosophers and theologians discussed the dilemma and came with various answers

(You could agree or not with what I'm saying here) Actually it is a false dilemma and Socrates is right: God's will and moral order are different things. Moral order operates on human scale and is created (and maintained) by humans for human use. God has another scale.

Says Katherin A. Rogers (analyzing how St. Anselm considered this dilemma), Anselm, like Augustine before him and Aquinas later, rejects both horns of the Euthyphro dilemma. God neither conforms to nor invents the moral order. Rather His very nature is the standard for value.

Two web sites where the Euthyphro dilemma is discussed (and of course there are many other places where you can find it):

(A Life in Books)



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