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�Socratic’ Compassion

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In the Trial of Socrates, the author Stone I.F advocates that Socrates’ lack of compassion for the “poor landless laborer” is clearly evident through Plato’s Euthyphro, and argues that this lack of sympathy for the servant allegedly blinded Socrates to a flaw in the whole argumentation which ends up in a deadlock. He supports his arguments by providing the following reasons. Firstly, the writer believes that the entire episode of Euthyphro is in the pursuit of an inconclusive definition of piety or holiness, which in itself is different from the problem at hand- whether or not Euthyphro’s actions were justifiable in bringing his own father to trial. Secondly, Stone claims that Socrates’ behavior in the Euthyphro is unsympathetic, as he shows no signs of empathy for the “poor landless laborer” in the entire episode, and concludes that it was not “pious” for the poor laborer to be left in the cold to suffer. Ultimately, Stone also believes that Socrates’ lack of compassion is also shown in his attitude towards Euthyphro, whom he portrays to be a “superstitious fanatic”, and is totally inconsiderate towards understanding Euthyphro’s mental mindset. Though Stone does put forward some good arguments and draws meaningful analogies (like the references to Orestes), he appears to be one-sided in his arguments in supporting Euthyphro, and his criticism, however well-minded, misses the point. Hence, I disagree with Stone’s viewpoint that Socrates’ lack compassion for the laborer led to a flaw in his entire argumentation.

Stone does have his strengths in the article presented. He is accurate in pointing out the fact that nowhere in the article, has there been signs of pity shown for the poor laborer, and is also strict in claiming that it wasn’t “pious” or “just” to leave the poor laborer in a ditch for a crime that he may not have committed intentionally. In other words, Stone has rightly recognized the fact that in the entire conversation with Euthyphro, Socrates is more concerned in finding out the вЂ?definition’ of “piety” or “holiness”, and on evaluating Euthyphro on the basis of his definition of piety, rather than an assessment based on his show of compassion for the poor laborer.

Stone also draws a good analogy between Euthyphro and Orestes by claiming that they were both “caught in a conflict, a maze- of obligations moral, legal, and political”, and also precisely points out that none of these obligations were discussed by Socrates in his interrogation, but instead had decided to carry on a “semantic-wild goose chase” to discover the definition of piety, so as to decide whether or not, Euthyphro had acted piously.

However, as mentioned before Stone’s criticism, though well-minded, misses the main point in Euthyphro. Firstly, the dilemma raised here was not whether compassion is in order for the slave or for the servant, but whether the action taken against the servant, given his crime, was pious or not and how much is Euthyphro's father responsible for unintended consequences of his acts. Stone, at this point seems to be diverting from these main themes of Euthyphro by relating issues of Socrates’ lack of compassion to an error in his judgment.

Secondly, a possible personal lack of compassion for the murderer (the servant) does not account for the objective logical difficulties in Euthyphro's and Socrates' search for a valid definition of piety. Socrates supposed failure to abide by the universal principles (show of compassion) might have been mainly because he believed that these principles should be applied according to the situation, and not in the abstraction of them. Socrates believed that justice in the realm of human affairs required sensitivity for the extreme intricacy of human relations, and not a replication of a previous occurred mythological event that Euthyphro seems to be doing at present(by supporting his actions based on piety and comparing himself to the Gods). Hence this might have been the reason as to why Socrates decided to go about with his “wild-goose chase” on the definition of piety. Also, the conversation about the piousness of Euthyphro's lawsuit might not have been an innocent intellectual game or just an excuse to engage in a logical exercise about the art of definition. Socrates was aware that his own life was at stake as he was approaching the trial, and hence might have been prodding on, as he was personally intrigued with the idea because he was himself waiting for his own trial for being impious.

Also Stone has only emphasized on the issue of the lack of compassion for the servant (laborer). He feels pity for the poor laborer and sympathizes with him, as no form of



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