Euthyphro and His Unheard of Dilemna

Well, for my first post, I’ve decided to pose a question that I think should be much more common in the discussion about religion. It’s called “Euthyphro’s Dilemna”, and outside of my Philosophy class, I’ve only heard it brought up once, and it was mentioned in passing. Now perhaps I was in the wrong places to stumble upon it, and it is talked about commonly, but it can’t hurt to add to the discussion.

Neither answer to this guy’s dilemna is proof of existence or non-existance; instead, think of this question as more of a chance to figure out which viewpoint, assuming you are already a theist, you stand with.

The dilemna, taken from Socrates himself, is as follows:

“Consider this: Is the pious being loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is being loved by the gods?”

If you find yourself stratching your head as to what this old geezer from centuries ago is trying to say, you’re not the only one. It can be rephrased like this:

“Think about this: Does God love something because it is pious (that is, because it is righteous with or without God), or is something pious because it is loved by God (that is, it is righteous simply because it is loved by God; if God does not love it, it is not righteous)?” (Replace “God” with “gods/goddesses” according to your particular faith.)

If the former is true, it raises some questions as to the power of God, such as: Is He omnipotent and all-powerful if He cannot make something evil right? What if God commands something that is not right?

Yet the latter also poses problems: How does God determine what is right and wrong? Is it according to His whim and particular liking? Also, how does one figure out what God wants? There is so much diversity of opinion as to what He truly commands; what is the mechanism by which we can determine this?

At any rate, it’s an important question to answer theologically and philosophically, as it determines some of the nature of His power, your relationship to Him, as well as other things.

The Wikipedia link to Euthyphro’s Dilemna is below, for those interested in reading further.


8 thoughts on “Euthyphro and His Unheard of Dilemna

  1. Alice

    This is my first time hearing about this, and I find it incredibly interesting! It’s also a bit to wrap my head around… I’ll definitely have to read more about it. But it also helps prove some great points that I would love to bring up in conversations sometimes. Excellent first post!!

  2. makagutu

    The dilemma doesn’t seek to determine the existence or non-existence of deities but rather the question about morality and whether gods have a say in it or not and I contend they don’t have.

      1. maldextrin Post author

        No, it has nothing to do with whether or not God exists. It’s more of a question to consider if you assume his existence. I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m saying that this says something about His existence.

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