The study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, esp. when considered as an academic discipline

The Euthyphro Dilemma

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  • The Euthyphro Dilemma

    So, we owe this one to Plato. I think it's a humdinger of a question, and I wonder what you all will make of it.

    Does God will the good, because it is good, or is the good, good, because God wills it?

    Either way we have a problem, Houston. If God wills the good because it is good, then there is some superior arbitrator of goodness to which God is subject; some moral law which God must obey. But if this is the case, why should we not just dispense with God, and ally ourselves directly with this ultimate reality? But if the good is good because God wills it, then, theoretically, God could will anything, and the willed thing would be good. Genocide, perhaps, or hatred, or the decapitation of daffodils on sight. Goodness becomes an arbitrary matter of whim, with no underlying and organising principles.

    So, which do you prefer? A lesser God, or a lesser good?

    Best wishes, 2RM.

  • #2
    [FONT=trebuchet ms][SIZE=16px]For Plato and Socrates this was a dilemma because for them the gods were as frail and fallible as men but for Christians this is no dilemma because God is neither frail nor fallible. What is good is what God is and what God commands derives from God's goodness yet men who see only a little and reason only on what they see and know (or guess) frame their question as if God were as frail and as fallible as the Greek gods and goddesses. Clearly the error in the Euthyphro is a classification error because the gods of the Greeks are creatures of the human imagination and mind while the God with whom we have to do is uncreated and no human mind can comprehend him.[/SIZE][/FONT]
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    • #3
      So, to paraphrase, because God's nature is good, what God wills is good? But who decides what is good, in the first place? Is it just a happy accident that God is good, or is there some external dynamic that determines a goodness to which God conforms?

      Best wishes, 2RM.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by 2ndRateMind View Post
        So, to paraphrase, because God's nature is good, what God wills is good? But who decides what is good, in the first place? Is it just a happy accident that God is good, or is there some external dynamic that determines a goodness to which God conforms?

        Best wishes, 2RM.
        [SIZE=16px][FONT=trebuchet ms]Not exactly, it is more like "because God is what good is and good can have no other ultimate definition than God it follows that what God commands is by definition good even if his creatures may want to dispute it".[/FONT][/SIZE]
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        • #5
          Yes, I think this is the right sort of direction to pursue. The idea I take to be that ultimate, objective Good is God. God just is ultimate, objective Good. Plato wants to separate the two, goodness and God, as he poses his question, and I am not persuaded this is a valid move. An ultimately good entity must naturally will the good; and the good will be what an ultimately good entity wills. If this is so, then the short answer to Plato's dilemma must be 'Both!'. And for me, this is a satisfying answer.

          Best wishes, 2RM.
          Last edited by 2ndRateMind; 06-19-2015, 05:19 AM.
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