Euthyphro and Mysticism Essay

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| Euthyphro and Mysticism | Angela Smoulder | | Philosophy 101-01 | 9/21/2012 |


The definition of division causes a basis of argument in Plato’s “Euthyphro”. While awaiting trial, Euthyphro explains that he has brought his father in front of the Judge with a murder charge. The idea of bring one’s own father to court brings forth room for debate between Socrates and Euthyphro. The main question being what is the definition of piety? The main reason that Socrates asks this question is so that he can use the answer to defend himself, but while searching for the definition they find much controversy in Euthyphro’s action of bringing his father to court. It is clear that Socrates is looking for a universal definition of piety, in which all actions can be measure to determine whether or not they are pious. In order for the definition to be universal it must express what is essential about the thing being defined.
The word piety was defined several ways throughout the reading. At first Euthyphro explains that “piety is what he is doing now, that is prosecuting his father for manslaughter (Plato 5d ).” Socrates disagrees stating that it was not a definition but simply an example of piety and therefore does not provide a fundamental characteristic which makes a pious thing pious. Euthyphro then continues to explain in his second definition that “piety is what is pleasing to the gods (Plato 6e-7a).” Socrates consents to this definition because it is expressed in a general form, but then criticizes it on the grounds that the gods do not always agree with each other on what is pleasing. Socrates is basically saying that what is pleasing to one god may not be pleasing to another. Euthyphro argues that not even the gods would disagree that someone who kills without reasoning should but punished. They come to the conclusion that the same action could be both pious and impious, so Euthyphro’s definition does not work. He then tries to slightly amend his last thought and says that “What all gods love is pious, and what they all hate is impious (Plato 9e).” At this point Socrates introduces the “Euthyphro Dilemma” by asking “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or pious because it is loved by the gods (10a)?” Thus they decided that piety comes before the liking both temporally and logically, yet Euthyphro’s third definition is the exact opposite, therefore it is severely flawed. After three failures from Euthyphro, Socrates suggests a definition of piety namely that “piety is a species of the genus justice (Plato 12d).” He asks the questions of what makes piety different from all the actions that we call just. We cannot say that something is simply because we believe it to be so. Euthyphro proposes his final definition that “Piety is an art of sacrifice and prayer.” In the end their conversation completes a full circle with the final idea that “piety is intimately bound up with what the gods like (Plato 15a).”
The article on Jewish Mysticism explains that what varies between Jewish Mysticism and other religions is the interpretation of the experiences through the attempt to communicate it, and the ability to make others see the significance of the event (Jones Pg 156). Jewish Mysticism is a larger element of myth and folklore than Christian Mysticism. Gnostical movements had a lot of influence on Jewish Mysticism (Jones Pg 157). Kabbalism, the most important contribution to Jewish Mysticism, is a discipline and school of thought. It is the teachings that explain the relationships between an unchanging and eternal Ein Sof and the mortal universe or his universe. Kabbalism “set out to preserve god and to blaze a new and glorious trail to Him, but encountered mythology on its way and was tempted to lose itself in its labyrinth.” These thoughts came about by persons who had mystical experiences. There are several types of Jewish Mysticism. The first type being Merkabah Mysticism was aimed to…