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(6) A Paradox


Socrates. But they will be sure to listen if they find that you
9c are a good speaker. There was a notion that came into my
mind while you were speaking; I said to myself: "Well, and
what if Euthyphro does prove to me that all the gods regarded
the death of the serf as unjust, how do I know anything more
of the nature of piety and impiety? for granting that this action
may be hateful to the gods, still piety and impiety are not
adequately defined by these distinctions, for that which is
hateful to the gods has been shown to be also pleasing and
dear to them." And therefore, Euthyphro, I do not ask you to

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prove this; I will suppose, if you like, that all the gods
9d condemn and abominate such an action. But I will amend the
definition so far as to say that what all the gods hate is impious,
and what they love pious or holy; and what some of  love and Let us say that what all the gods approve is pious and holy.
others hate is both or neither. Shall this be our definition of
piety and impiety?

Euthyphro. Why not, Socrates?

Soc. Why not! certainly, as far as I am concerned, Euthyphro,
there is no reason why not. But whether this admission will
greatly assist you in the task of instructing me as you
promised, is a matter for you to consider.

9e Euth. Yes, I should say that what all the gods love is pious
and holy, and the opposite which they all hate, impious.

Soc. Ought we to enquire into the truth of this, Euthyphro, or
simply to accept the mere statement on our own authority and
that of others? What do you say?

Euth. We should enquire; and I believe that the statement will
stand the test of enquiry.

10a Soc. We shall know better, my good friend, in a little while. But does the state follow the act, or the act the state?
The point which I should first wish to understand is whether
the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or
holy because it is beloved of the gods.

Euth. I do not understand your meaning, Socrates.

Soc. I will endeavour to explain: we, speak of carrying and we
speak of being carried, of leading and being led, seeing and
being seen. You know that in all such cases there is a
difference, and you know also in what the difference lies?

Euth. I think that I understand.

Soc. And is not that which is beloved distinct from that which

Euth. Certainly.

10b Soc. Well; and now tell me, is that which is carried in this state
of carrying because it is carried, or for some other reason?

Euth. No; that is the reason.

Soc. And the same is true of what is led and of what is seen?

Euth. True.

Soc. And a thing is not seen because it is visible, but
conversely, visible because it is seen; nor is a thing led because
it is in the state of being led, or carried because it is in the
state of being carried, but the converse of this. And now I
10c think, Euthyphro, that my meaning will be intelligible; and my
meaning is, that any state of action or passion implies previous
action or passion. It does not become because it is becoming,
but it is in a state of becoming because it becomes; neither
does it suffer because it is in a state of suffering, but it is in a
state of suffering because it suffers. Do you not agree?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. Is not that which is loved in some state either of
becoming or suffering?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. And the same holds as in the previous instances; the state The latter is the truer account, and therefore we can only say that what is loved by all the gods is in a state to be loved by them; but holiness has a wider meaning than this.
of being loved follows the act of being loved, and not the act
the state.

Euth. Certainly.

10d Soc. And what do you say of piety, Euthyphro: is not piety,
according to your definition, loved by all the gods?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. Because it is pious or holy, or for some other reason?

Euth. No, that is the reason.

Soc. It is loved because it is holy, not holy because it is loved?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. And that which is dear to the gods is loved by them, and
is in a state to be loved of them because it is loved of them?

Euth. Certainly.

Soc. Then that which is dear to the gods, Euthyphro, is not
holy, nor is that which is holy loved of God, as you affirm; but
they are two different things

10e Euth. How do you mean, Socrates?

Soc. I mean to say that the holy has been acknowledge by us
to be loved of God because it is holy, not to be holy because it
is loved.

Euth. Yes.

Soc. But that which is dear to the gods is dear to them because
it is loved by them, not loved by them because it is dear to

Euth. True.

Soc. But, friend Euthyphro, if that which is holy is the same
with that which is dear to God, and is loved because it is holy,
11a then that which is dear to God would have been loved as being
dear to God; but if that which is dear to God is dear to him is
because loved by him, then that which is holy would have been
holy because loved by him. But now you see that the reverse
the case, and that they are quite different from one another.
For one is of a kind to be loved cause it is loved, and the
other is loved because it is of a kind to be loved. Thus you
appear to me, Euthyphro, when I ask you what is the essence
of holiness, to offer an attribute only, and not the essence --
11b the attribute of being loved by all the gods. But you still
refuse to explain to me the nature of holiness. And therefore ,
if you please, I will ask you not to hide your treasure, but to
tell me once more what holiness or piety really is, whether dear
to the gods or not (for that is a matter about which we will not
quarrel); and what is impiety? What is the essential meaning of holiness or piety?

Euth. I really do not know, Socrates, how to express what I
mean. For somehow or other our arguments, on whatever
ground we rest them, seem to turn round and walk away from

Soc. Your words, Euthyphro, are like the handiwork of my
11c ancestor Daedalus; and if I were the sayer or propounder
of them, you might say that my arguments walk away and will
not remain fixed where they are placed because I am a
descendant of his. But now, since these notions are your own,
you must find some other gibe, for they certainly, as you
yourself allow, show an inclination to be on the move.

Euth. Nay, Socrates, I shall still say that you are the Daedalus
who sets arguments in motion; not I, certainly, but you make
11d them move or go round, for they would never have stirred, as
far as I am concerned.

Soc. Then I must be a greater than Daedalus: for whereas he
only made his own inventions to move, I move those of other
people as well. And the beauty of it is, that I would rather
11e not. For I would give the wisdom of Daedalus, and the
wealth of Tantalus, to be able to detain them and keep them
fixed. But enough of this. As I perceive that you are lazy, I
will myself endeavor to show you how you might instruct me
in the nature of piety; and I hope that you will not grudge your