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In seeking to answer the underlying question of what defines piety/holiness, Plato presents the quandary that Socrates finds himself; charged with the capital crime of impiety. In representing this situation, Plato hinges his discussion upon the back and forth between Euthyphro and Socrates as the two men discuss what typifies piety and how it is represented within the world.
In the beginning of the work, Socrates is shocked that one could take their father to trial on charges of manslaughter; deeming it to be so far outside the conventions of the law and of society that it is almost incomprehensible morally and/or judicially. Euthyphro, on the other hand, focuses on the piety of the son and courage that he must have had in order to perform such an action; referening the fact that a universal belief in goodness and the justice of the rule of law overcame even the strict moral dictates of respect. Exemplifying Socratic irony, Socrates states that he wishes to learn from Euthyphro concerning piety so that he might use this to defend himself against the trial that awaits him (Reed, 2013). The conversation that follows between the two develops, expands and allows the reader to come to a more full and informed understanding of how logical thought concerning piety and/or holiness can be informed as a result of the trial of Socrates; the situation that of course prompted the entire work to be written in the first place. The central question that is asked is ultimately what defines piety. ...
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