Tuesday, June 10, 2008

McCain Points: Euthyphro

The Euthyphro is my favorite Platonic Dialog. I find its crux to be the most enjoyable crux of all the Platonic Dialogs given the degree to which it is puzzling, unanswerable, and applicable to a plethora of everyday situations. So I'm going to talk about the Euthyphro, then discuss the primary crux of the Euthyphro, and finally relate the Euthyphro to some stupid shit McCain has been saying. Sound good? No? Alright, then.

The Euthyphro is a dialog between Socrates, antiquity's first grifter, and Euthyphro, a religious expert and pompous asshole, concerning piety. The dialog begins in the typical Platonic fashion with the two characters meeting one another, a situation arising which fosters debate, and Socrates luring the unsuspecting dipshit into discussion. To Socrates' first question of "What is Pious" Euthyphro replies with a particular example of pious action. Socrates dismisses this as a mere particular example and explains that he wants to know what makes pious things pious. Euthyphro then states that "piety is what the gods approve of". Which is a fine definition, until one realizes that the gods disagree with one another. Euthyphro then amends his definition by saying that "What all the gods approve of is pious, and what they all disapprove of is impious". As Euthyphro's definition is obviously fixated on the will of the Gods Socrates then asks the question which is the crux of the Euthyphro, 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?
Stated differently, is "pious" a characteristic of a thing itself or is "pious" a characteristic attributed to a thing by the gods? With regard to piety this creates a dilemma in that things are pious regardless of the will of the gods (nonsense/makes gods subject to something) or things are only pious because the gods say they are (arbitrary/naturalistic fallacy). With regard to reality independent of the Euthyphro, however, this dilemma is terrific.

My interest in the Euthyphro comes from an extraction of the fundamental crux and its application to everything else in reality: Is X Y because it is Y, or is X Y because we say it is Y? Dissecting reality in this way is a hoot: Is candy delicious because it is delicious, or is candy delicious because we say it is delicious? Is good good because it is good, or is good good because we say it is good? What is the nature of an attribute? What is the relation between characteristics and things? How does this fundamental component of reality, attributes, relate to things? Are they separable, inseparable? Whence their meaning and application? It is a wonderful mind puzzle, especially when you apply it to John McCain's dipshittery.

On Monday John McCain was interviewed by Brian Williams. During the interview John McCain said, "And the fact is we are winning in Iraq." Of course, you can see where I'm going with this: Apply the Euthyphro Dilemma to McCain's statement:

Are we winning the war because we're winning the war, or are we winning the war because we say we're winning the war?

Ignoring the fact that one could easily dismiss McCain's premise and rather claim that we are not winning the war it is far more enjoyable to assess "winning" in terms of the Euthyphro. So, which is it? How can we tell?

Have fun with that. And feel free to apply the Euthyphro Dilemma to everything else in your life. I promise that doing so will never, ever piss anyone off.


_J_ said...

One of the mildly confusing parts of the discussion is the use of the term "pious". I find it helpful to make the following notation:
Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?

Italics = thing
Bold = quality

Mike Lewis said...

1) i wish i could of antiquity's first grifter.

2) someone seems to be getting their philosophy chops in tuned up.

Yes i just mixed a drumming and car metaphor but i don't really care.

_J_ said...


I just keep reminding myself that McCain is better than Giuliani.

Mike Lewis said...

That isnt saying much a shit stain would be better than Guiliani.

I am kind of amazed by his website. The only working links are for a donate button and a contact link...which takes you to the address of his press office.

what a shitstain