Dialogue set in 480 BCE, Socrates died in 399 BCE (so one year before his death)
Euthyphro claims to be soothsayer (predicts future)
Piety def: dutifulness in religious matters and devotion to one’s family, especially parent/father.
- Socrates charged with impiety and corrupting youth
- Euthyphro thinks his dad’s murder of a servant is impious, so he put his dad in jail.
- However, in Athenian times, you NEVER put your father in jail (not pious, duh).
Lyceum: famous sports ground in Athens, place well known for philosophical discussions.
1: 2 The Dialogue
Euthyphro surprised to find Socrates at Porch instead of Lyceum.
Socrates corrects Euth: “not a suit”. S brought to Porch by Meletus. Shows that Euthyphro is not
familiar with Athenian practices.
*Physical description of Meletus shows he wants to bring charges upon others, but doesn’t pay
attention to appearance.
Socrates uses irony to say the Meletus will be successful, then states nature of impiety charge:
“neologian” (new) views, which put him in danger among his peers.
Euthyphro to Socrates: why are you here?
Socrates to Euthyphro: why are YOU here?
Parallel: each dealing with piety. Euthyphro is at risk of being just as impious as Socrates.
Key question: what is piety/impiety??
- Soc insists he doesn’t have an idea of piety but wants to know one nature that exists in every
- Euthyphro: ancient gods could act against their dads, so they served as a standard to
Euthyphro’s own actions.
- Soc: Doesn’t believe in views generally held in Athens about gods. Thinks Athenian gods make
Euthyphro’s 1st general definition: piety=what is dear to god.
- Soc: but gods have conflicts among themselves, so there must be a standard. For instance:
good vs. evil, just vs. unjust, honest vs. dishonest—need a standard to distinguish these things.
- Relying on opinion instead of knowledge (see republic) will not determine standard.
Euthyphro’s 2 nddefinition: dear to god=what is pious and holy.
- Suggests external, underlying standard.
- Argument ends up in circle.
Argument results in dilemma.
Mythology and Epic Poets;
Although not philosophy, these laid foundation for future views… There are all supernatural stories of origins, the nature of being and the nature of cosmos
- Hesiods, Theogony and works and Pays (?)
Wrote about cosmic origins
- Homer: The Iliad and the Odyssey
- There is an underlying “cosmic order” under appearance of disorder.
“disorderly things happen in overall order”. If you find that order, then knowledge will also be an
These are early philosophers called “proto-scientists” or “natural philosophers”. Intersection of early
stages of philosophy and science.
- The Milesians (from Miletus, Asia Minor)
Their views: they ask questions like “what is the ultimate makeup or elements of nature? The
elements/1 principles that make up totality of phenomena in time and space are:
Anaximenes: apeiron (“the boundless”)
Heraclitus of Ephesus: fire
Archilochus introduced individual voice to consciousness!
- “Rejoice in Good Fortune; repine not overmuch in ill; Learn how the pendulum swings in human
- “Nothing to me is the wealth of Gyges and his glut of gold; I neither admire nor envy him”
Again, Sinonides has an individual voice:
- “There is no misfortune that may not be expected in human life; in a brief space god turns all
- “I will not seek that which cannot possibly be and pin my share of existence on an unrealizable
Teachers of public oratory and rhetoric (has nothing to do with truth). Teach you how to speak
persuasively via logic and reasoning create most forceful argument.
Thrasymachus, Gorgias and Protagorus in Republic are sophists.
- Appearance vs. underlying reality which explains it
- The nature of justice (rectification and balancing)
- Change and temporality
- The unchanging timeless principle that are the structures of the cosmos of human life (pp 17-
Introduction to Apology
Apologia = defense, explanation, not “apology’ in the “I have done something wrong” sense! Structure: 1) S’s defense 2) penalty 3) S’s comments on death sentence
- Meletus (on behalf of the poets)
- Anytus (on behalf of the craftsmen and politicians)
- Lycon (on behalf of the rhetoricians and orators)
The charge: impiety (thus also corrupting the youth)
2:1 S’s defense
speak plainly and speak the truth [27-28]
Implications: even if truth is detrimental to himself.
2) Answers older charges (bias for current charges)
Charges brought against him=false
People either liars or failed to understand the truth.
Older charges falsely claimed Socrates is a sophist/natural philosopher/teacher of rhetoric
“accusers gave no serious thought to the basis of their charges’
Reference to comic poet Aristophanes who portrays S as a crook: “false opinions”!!
IRONY: “Let the event be as god wills.” Socrates is charged with impiety!!
The Delphic oracle
While Socrates denies having the knowledge attributed to him, he admits to having a kind of
wisdom ppl don’t appreciate: global wisdom/self-knowledge
Oracle: “there is no man wiser than Socrates.” Socrates believes in the will of God and has to
find out the meaning of this oracle. He seeks people wiser than himself but finds:
Politicians: only pretend to know
Poets: only soothsayers, inspired but not knowledgeable
Artisans: have techné (skills) but not global wisdom
[p33] This investigation has led to calumnies.
3) Answers to current charges
Charges of corrupting the youth
Criticism is amusement to youth. They learn from Socrates the art of revealing other people’s
pretension and go around annoying people.
S questions accuser, Meletus. Meletus appears to be concerned about civic matters, but
proves to be ignorant.
If S is corrupter, “who is their improver”? how is it possible for the youth to be improved?
Meletus never gave thought to that, can’t answer.
Evil neighbours harm you. So it doesn’t make sense for S to intentionally make them evil—
But if S corrupts them unintentionally—then S is innocent. Charges of Impiety
Meletus accuses Socrates of being an atheist and creating false gods. Socrates shows the
“Can a man believe in spiritual and divine agencies, and not in spirits or demigods?” [p38]
Demigods=gods, hence Socrates believes in gods.
Socrates finishes answering charges.
Now S transitions to theme of death:
General rule: Do not concern yourself with death, but do what is right.
“A man who is good for anything…ought to only consider whether he’s acting the good man or the
It is important to act honestly and act correctly according to his understanding of the word.
If seeking wisdom is God’s will, he will do that despite consequences.
God has tasked him to cultivate people’s souls.
INTERESTING TRANSITION HERE:
S is no longer speaking to defend death, but says citizens will be harming themselves if they let
Seriously impoverish the city of Athens.
God sent “gadfly” (someone who upsets status quo) to Athenian state.
S exhorting to preserve virtue:
Piety=dutifulness to God, also dutifulness to one’s family, especially father.
S sees himself as a father figure and citizens are impious.
(Plus no one knows for a fact that any youth has been corrupted. Testimony from youth’s family on
2:2 Penalty Phase
S proposes for his sentence: “that which is my due”
He does not believe he has done wrong because he never intentionally hurt anyone.
He should be allowed to keep doing it—extort people to reflect on how to live their lives
“There can be no more fitting reward than maintenance in the Prytaneum”—public figure given
public status, citizen/city supports you and feeds you.
Doesn’t think he deserves death sentence or the following
Imprisonment: prevents Gods calling to go around city
Exile: he will still annoy people elsewhere, but S only wants to educate Athenians;
“hold your tongue”—give up philosophy? No. Breaks commitment from God.
Why does S persist so much? “ Greatest good is the daily converse about virtue.”
Theme: The life that is unexamined is not worth living.
S: The reasonable penalty=friends play 30 minas fine to bail him out.
2:3 Death Sentence
 “Only speaking to who condemned me to death…” NOT deficiency of words!! What then?
Did not weep, wail, or act pitiful the way people wanted.
Appropriate conduct=dignity and reason
“Difficulty not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness which runs faster than death.”
Daimen: didn’t interfere (with what?)—his conscience at peace. Shows he didn’t do anything
Why S doesn’t fear death: Fear of death is false wisdom. “No evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.”
Death is good because:
- It is either unconsciousness or after life.
Final wish: encourages fellow citizens to go after his sons and to cultivate their souls.
3 Marcus Aurelius: Meditations
Before, people shamelessly pursued wealth and honour rather than being occupied with
themselves. Socrates chided them for not seeking truth, wisdom and perfection. He was brought to
trial because he tried to convince fellow citizens to take care of themselves.
Named after the “stoa”, a columned portico
Founded by Zeno of Citium (335-263 BCE)
Zeno was taught initially by Cynic Crates, a student of Diogenes (412 or 404-323 BCE)
Ultimate importance for Crates=cultivation of the soul—pursuit of virtue and good life.
*Diogenes of Sinope: Non-athenian, born in Turkey. Abandoned conventional clothing. Teacher of
Crates, Crates the teacher of Zeno, Zeno the founder of stoicism.
For the Early Cynics
Virtue involves “living according to Nature” (Antiothenes)
living sincerely. How?
Cynics do not believe in conventions—opposition fo nature is false and must be abandoned.
Example of conventions: acceptable clothes, laws, philosophical argumentation.
Normos vs Physis (phoo-sis)
Normos=convention, custom, law—rational forces of order
Physis=nature—unchanging forces of natural world
Tension between rational forces of order (normos) and unchanging forces of natural world (physis).
Q: what parts of human existence are actually natural? (pertain to physis?) e.g. having sex in
For cynics: natural=anything that’s unconventional. Zeno felt that this was simplistic.
Socrates: man is a political animal
Natural for humans to form political communities
Natural to establish laws
Therefore, in Stoicism, Normos and physis inter-connect!!
Surviving Stoic Texts
Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (Marcus: 121-180 AD; Emperor of Rome from 160 until his death) in
Texts by Epictetus (Greek 55-135 AD)
Also letters by Seneca (Roman, 4BC-65 AD) to his friend, Lucilius.
Moral essays, enforces Lucilius’ struggle to achieve morality—stoic virtues.
How to avoid excesses? –too much happiness can be bad too.
Deeply rooted in daily review. Stoic contributions to philosophy
Logic, physics (philosophy of nature), ethics
Logic=orchard fence, physics=trees (supplies an understanding of the world's rational structure
and goodness and of the individual's place in it.), ethics=the fruit.
The value of physics and logic was in a way instrumental - to acquire the understanding which
would make a happy life possible.
Logic, Aristotle style
Syllogism: the relation between classes of things
e.g. All men are mortal
Socrates is a man
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
Stoic development of Logics (orchard fence)
Dilemma: the relationship between propositions
If you enter public life, you must be either honest or dishonest.
If you are honest, men will hate you;
If you are dishonest, gods will hate you.
Therefore, if you enter public life, either men or gods will hate you.
Stoic physics/philosophy of Nature (trees)
Stoics are MATERIALISTS Everything real is mateiral/physical.
Complete opposite of Platonic/Socratic view of the immaterial (forms/pure ideas)
The active force in the material world: fire, God, Zeus (?), the logos, world spirit.
God/Logos=material, thus within all natural things.
Logos: The principle that governs the cosmos, governs human reasoning.
Sophists: topics of rational argument.
Active unifying material, rational principle of the cosmos that organizes all things within it.
The power of reason, residing in the human soul.
The link between God and humans.
Everything is pre-determined by the Logos.
Logos=natural plan, rational
Wisdom=realizing this plan—there is no such thing as chance
The Stoic Sage
Aims for apatheia, literally apathy, lack of emotion. Benefit: the sage cannot be made unhappy by
anything not in his power to control.
What she/he can control is how she/he reacts to what she/he cannot control.
Proper response=indifference. (is free will even possible then?)
Epictus: “Don’t seek for things to happen as you wish, but wish for things to happen as they do,
and you will get on well.” Socrates vs. Stoics:
Socrates: well governed mind vs. well-governed city
Stoics: human being vs. whole of natural world
Humans have souls, world too has a soul aspect because God is immanent (permanently
pervading and sustaining the universe) to the world, not transcendent (existing apart from worldly
Socrates and Plato: citizens of the city (polis)
Stoics: citizens of the cosmos (cosmopolites)
RECALL: Socrates’concept of cultivation of the soul: “take care of themselves”.
One significant aspect of stoicism: primary concern=cultivation of self.
Aim of stoicism=allow people to pursue the good life—cultivation of the virtues.
Aurelius tries to keep track of what constitutes the virtuous life:
Michel Foucault: ancient practices of Greece and Rome that came to fruition in the work of the
stoics: “technologies of the self”, talks of the practice of self-writing.
4:2 Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Points From Gregory Hays
Meditations is a misleading titlea diary, not literary. The text is haphazard, not clear structure or
Repeated use of pronoun “you” refers to Marcus himself. Best title: “To Himself”.
A series of reminders for M’s own benefit—a process of living philosophy.
Pierre Hadot: spiritual exercises from Socrates to Foucault.
Hays: “Individual entries do not record Marcus’s thoughts or to enlighten others, but for his own use
to practice/enforce his own philosophical convictions.” We are not reading it to discover systematic
philosophy OR historical text about him.
Distinction between Insight and System
Today: philosophy=a way of systemizing our world views
For Marcus: it’s a series of insights that help up understand the world. There is no system or theory
endorsed—any part can be taken and analysed independently.
e.g. “Body is a seat of the mind” not necessarily true, but other parts can still resonate. History isn’t
just an evolution from bad theories to good ones.
Recurring Themes *care of the self apatheia do not stand in the way of properly treating others. Philosophy gives
guidance to life, more valuable than rhetoric and poetry.
- recurrence (idea that comes back in Nietzche, hypothesis of eternal recurrence—time is cyclical)
Living in the Moment
3:10 example: forget everything else…
Universe=huge, people insignificant, lives are short.
Significance of the moment comes from its insignificance.
*Can this be Endorsement of nihilism? Warned about by NIetsche: nihilism=believe in nothing,
whereas society today is hardpressed to state precise beliefs.
Your life means nothing in the grand scheme of things—a tiny speck in history. Therefore, nothing
Stoic philosophy is essentially self-questioning: living in the moment is NOT self-indulgence.
You should think about the way you’re living, go within, using the logos as guiding principles.
Living in the moment=duty
Nature’s charm submitting to logos
Stoic sage: mind your own business.
Imminence of Death/Change:
3:1 life is shady if we don’t have that which makes us human in the first place. So pay attention to
our own nature—the logos.
4:6 death is a fact of life, so one should regard death with calm.
1. Discipline of perception (Judgement vs truth)
Perceiving correctly—faithful to 1 impression.
3:9 “your ability to control your thought…respect for others, affection, etc” these things are all
made possible by reason. Reason is the presupposition of our experience.
Respect reason. Logos=macro reason, so let logos be our guide
- uncomplicated your life.
4:2 “Do only what the logos directs”
4:13 “you have a mind? Then why not use it? Not to be driven this way or that…”
Perception helps us see what we do/do not have control over.
2. Discipline of action (control, goodness)
- deals with what’s within our control
- pay attention to what you can change
- We are one, participating in the logos , so be good to others, living according to nature/logos.
4:40 “World as a living being, one nature, one soul…everything produces everything else.”
5:6 vine produces grapes without asking for anything in return, so we should do the same.
3. Discipline of will (attitude, tranquility)
Submit to what you can’t control. Refrain from making value judgements on death, change,
transcience. Pointless to say that it’s bad. If you choose not to be harmed, you won’t be.
4: 39 “Nothing that goes on in anyone elses mind can harm you.”
4 Meditations on First Philosophy in which are demonstrated the existence of God and the distinction between the human
soul and body
(original subtitle: in which are demonstrated the existence of God and the immortality of the soul)
The Ancients and the Moderns
The moderns (dating from the 17 century): Radical break from traditional , Hellenistic (Greek and
Roman) philosophical assumptions
Ancients: Many kinds of knowledge---technés. What unifies all knowledges?
Descartes: Find one piece of reliable knowledge.
Radical doubt, skeptical about EVERYTHING.
Descartes: what can be known and known with certainty by the mind? How and what do we know
D=thinking about thinking.
Universal doubt (methodological doubt)
Descartes attempts to doubt his way to the truth
Rationalism: The position that reason has precedence over other way of acquiring knowledge, or
more strongly, the unique path to knowledge.
Réné Descartes (1569-1650)
Jesuit College at La Flèche in Anjou. “Despite being cultivated for many centuries by the best
minds, philosophy contained no point which was not disputed and hence doubtful.”
The case of Galileo (1564-1642):
Rejected Aristotelian cosmology, Insisted mathematics was at the heart of physics. Favoured
scientific experimentation. Supported Copernicus, defended a heliocentric view of the cosmos.
Proved the law of free fall.
The problem with atomism: Galileo says the universe is made of 2 things, atoms and the void.
Atoms come in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes, but each atom is indestructible and
immutable. They can combine in a variety of ways but fundamentally unchanging. The Eucharist
(Holy communion): the sacrament in which Christ exists in the wine and water is incompatible with
Descartes’challenge: to defend a Copernican/Galilean science. The text attempts to save science
Tree of knowledge: metaphysics=root, physics=trunk, special branches of science=branches.
Metaphysics=foundation for knowledge.
Certainty does not derive from experience: “I would not urge anyone to read unless they are
able and willing to meditate seriously with me and to withdraw their minds from the senses and all