The Ethical Question When Socrates asks Euthyphro, What is Piety?… The Ethical QuestionWhen Socrates asks Euthyphro, What is Piety? he is asking a Metaphysical question: a question about the nature of the reality of Piety.Since Socrates is an Idealist, he is NOT asking for physical examples of Piety, but for the essential idea, the basic concept, the universal definition.Idealism assumes a way of knowing, so the question is also Epistemological. The question “What is Piety?” is really this question:How do you know that Piety is what you say it is?Socrates is also a Rationalist. This is his Epistemology. So he is NOT asking for sense experience, but for logical reasoning. This includes what we have called the Terms and Conditions of dialogue.When Euthyphro realizes that he can’t answer the question that Socrates asked, a new question comes up. It is an Ethical question.What is the right thing to do when you *don’t* know that Piety is what you say it is?For the Greeks at the time of Socrates, Ethical questions like this one were always about “virtue.”Virtue is an excellent way of being; it means functioning as an excellent thing of your kind.For a Greek person, there were five virtues, five ethical functions:wisdom, moderation/temperance, bravery, justice, pietyThese are the answers to every Ethical question.This is why, when Euthyphro refuses to continue the dialogue, he can be accused of an Ethical wrong.He did not show the courage to pursue wisdom on the question of piety.And, without knowing what piety is, there is not just ignorance — there is the serious risk of injustice.This is the basis for Socrates’ judgment that it is always wrong to live for appearances, and not to value REAL truth above all else.PsychologySocial ScienceSocial Psychology PHIL MISC
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