The Euthyphro Dilemma

Euthyphro is one of the Greek philosopher Plato’s early dialogues, dated to around or soon after 399 BCE. In it the Greek philosopher Socrates and Euthyphro, a man known for being a theologian, attempt to arrive at an acceptable definition of piety.

One of the key points in the Euthyphro dialog is called the Euthyphro Dilemma:

Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?

For the followers of the Abrahamic Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) this normally translates into – on the occasions when it is debated by the theologians – the question of whether something is commanded by their God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by their God.

Amongst polytheists – with the rare exception of myself – the question rarely arises do to our multiplicity of deities with possibly conflicting directives and our lack of requirement for- or belief in their omniscience or infallibility.

I can’t speak to whether or not the Sikhs have the Euthyphro Dilemma often or not. They’re monotheists, but their view of their God is vastly different from most other faiths.

In any case though, it’s an interesting debate. Is the God(s) the creator or legislator of morality, or is the God(s) the enforcer of a morality that originate from separately Divine will?

Tags: | | | | | |