The Nature of Piety and Plato's Euthyphro

Okay, so here it is, the main points to remember when it comes to Plato's Euthyphro.

It could probably go without saying that Euthyphro is Plato's creation, so may not need to be included in the title. The article could have just as easily read, "The Nature of Euthyphro's Piety". Anyone who knows this dialogue knows that Plato wrote it. Let's say that this association is the first "layer" of knowledge that we are recalling, pulling from the cumulative social knowledge of Plato connoisseurs.

According to Stephanus pagination, Euthyphro's dilemma is something that appears at position 10a. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about this famous dilemma;

The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Plato's dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates asks Euthyphro, "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?"

I would point out that being able to recall Euthyphro's dilemma is worthy of remembrance if you want to quickly contextualize this Classic. It's this recall function that I have written about elsewhere. As a philosopher, what we remember is only the tip of the iceberg so to speak.

I am a secular philosopher and when it comes to the meaning of piety I can entertain the idea of God by equivocating it to Good as a group allusion phenomenon. This is important to point out because I go through my next series of points, I would like to make it clear that I am not advocating for a supernatural being.

So the question is whether or not the gods love piety or the person. We could say that the gods could love both piety and the person but we would be missing the point. We are trying to ascertain whether or not there is a defining characteristic to love. Remember the gods or God, as I am describing her, is an ideal projection of our collective human nature. I could add pathologically or nihilistic to the character description but this wouldn't be an accurate description. Ultimately, the Abrahamic tradition and the West in general default to concepts of God orientated towards the Good. And therefore the pathological, perverse and nihilistic manifestations that are the darker side of human nature are thus excluded from our collective wisdom as a species.

Back to the love that we have towards this super-entity, God, Geist or Id.

Heck, let's just get with the program and call her God. What this does for me is make the concept contemporary bringing the utterance of God either an expression of extreme pleasure, stubbing your bare toe in a dark hallway, or the Almighty herself.

I will glance over my intentional matriarchy mismatch and come back to this later. The unifying concept that you want to think of is Identity. One's identity is grafted onto a life of piety so consuming that the love you have for yourself is projected towards the heavens. If you have "transcended" to this level, the synthesis is so complete that a threat to this identity is a threat to your being.

This brings me to my next point, Being is a point that Plato is describing in Euthyphro.  Back to the dilemma we go;

The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Plato's dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates asks Euthyphro, "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?"

Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Is love the chicken or the egg? Does it matter? Actually no, the comparison is not really relevant. You see, chickens and eggs are both physical objects and part of a biological process of reproduction.

Chicken and Egg = CE | Love and Piety = LP

Working backwards from reproduction, this is the only descriptive element that CE and LP have in common. Information, ideally in the forme of wisdom, should emerge with implicit ethics, a biological imperative and be orientated towards the Good.

If piety comes first then "we" are all on the same page, pretending about the nature of reality and "in theory" the world becomes a better metaphysical place. Consequently, the acts we act in this spell will physically make the world a better place. Or so the current God hypothesis goes.  

There are other elements to the concept and utility of God that I don't need to go into here, because the foundation of this LP meditation lies in what comes first.

Naturally, do our human brethren have a starting point of love or do we need to run the piety program to project the right God frequencies? I would say our starting point is 60% love (for this case defined as a move towards homeostasis), 40% for malevolence, however arbitrary that may be. I needed to show that love isn't 100% of our experience. It may or may not be the default state but ultimately it doesn't matter.

This could be a practical argument for the pious first position in that recruiting or "spreading the gospel" to increase coherence and adherence. Plenty to ponder here. Let's move on.

The love first position doesn't work because, as I have already mentioned earlier, the malevolence of our nature is part of who we are and how we live. This isn't a justification, instead, it's important to understand that we have can fall victim to bad behaviour. And so, the love first position doesn't get off the ground. Or does it?

I say it does lift off but slower than we can imagine. Here is a very helpful article on Evolutionary Game Theory, please familiarize yourself with this information. It will change the way you see the world. For the better.

Evolutionary game theory - Wikipedia


I know I am leaving you hanging, much like Plato does in some of his dialogues. I recommend reading Plato on a regular basis, better yet, contribute something. If you think your contribution — be it a poem, prose or philosophy propaganda — is worthy of some planksip attention, please reach out to