Unformatted text preview: 09.11.2012 Euthyphro (cont.) Central question: is the holy holy because it is loved by the gods, or is it loved by the gods because it is holy? ‘Holy’ is a versatile term: similar arguments can be used for piety, justice, right, etc. Leads to question: would a true god be capable of choosing the unjust? The right thus precedes religion if it exists independently of the gods. Socrates: Our ability to judge the gods’ actions demonstrates that indeed it does exist independently. Therefore, a concept of moral right must exist above and prior to the existence of the gods. Socrates thus arrives at a concept of God as moral justice above individual gods. Anticipates monotheism insofar as he implies that their must exist a single, underlying ethical law of the universe. • Put another way: do the gods have a maw above them? If so, then that law is akin to God. As a modern analogy, basing definitions of the just on the acts of the gods was akin to Socrates to what Biblical literalism is for us today. Central question: what grounds justice? Derived from Greek observations of cultural difference and time spent in different, neighboring societies where different customs prevail. • When is a local custom immoral as opposed to simply different? Plato: piety only makes sense if it is in service of justice. Euthyphro (the character) doesn’t really have a grounded argument. At no point does Socrates claim to know what justice and piety are. A few key points: 1. Socrates/Plato argues for a secular notion of justice. 2. Socrates/Plato prefigures Kant in the idea that justice can be arrived at through the exercise of reason. • This is a form of “deontology,” from deon, meaning “duty.” • It is synonymous in this context with the school of “cognitivism,” which argues for using one’s reason to arrive at foundations of justice. ♦ Cognate of “cognition.” ♦ Links moral to reason, instead of passion, instincts, etc. 3. Proto
existentialist. Socrates/Plato argues that we must define justice for ourselves. • Theme in ancient Greek culture: Antigone illustrates adherence to human law is not strictly equivalent to piety/justice. ♦ Analogous to contemporary situation: what if religious beliefs contradict the law? E.g., skinhead walking around SBU: simply displaying swastika vs. inciting violence. The Apology One of the most read texts of all time. “Apology” actually means “defense” (from Meletus’ charges) in this context. Meletus’ two charges: 1. Impiety (atheism with respect to Athenian gods) 2. Corrupting the youth of Athens (teaching them impiety) • i.e., teaching them to be critical Socrates responds: 1. Not an atheist. Critical mission in seen as divine calling. 2. Corrupting the youth? • A. No one’s told me to stop… • B. Laws attend to youth, and I have broken no laws. ♦ That is to say, the fate of the youth falls in the hands of the community. In this way, defense becomes an indictment of Athens. He turns the tables and puts Athens on trial. Socrates begins by renouncing sophistic rhetoric. Doesn’t charge a fee. Believes that anyone able should educate. Plato sees pursuit of wisdom as being beyond mere fancy speech. Frames philosophy as distinct from sophistry by treating is a science, not an art. Defense is really about role of philosophy in the production of good citizens. Sophistry is not enough. • Refresher: sophists taught rhetoric, civic virtue ♦ Proto
humanists ♦ Proto
secularists Many cities, many gods ♦ Proto
cosmopolitanists Something unifying human nature Why was Plato anti
Sophist? Socrates was one, in a sense, so Plato felt the need to ensure that he was remembered differently. • Wanted to argue that Socrates “transcended” sophistry. Fighting against ubiquitous perception of Socrates as a sophist. Felt that sophists were betraying their calling by selling out their values for $$$. Rejection of compensation = rejection of sophistry Socrates = poor by choice Indictment of Athens Betrayed its own ideals as city under the reign of wisdom Sold out to demagogues Socrates is asked to suggest a punishment 1st choice: payment for services rendered! • “I’ve been preserving the youth of the city…” • Won’t stop even if released… must listen to personal daimon ♦ Contradicts charge of impiety ♦ Accusations reflected back at accusers Ultimately refuses exile and chooses death instead. ...
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