on good

In the Euthyphro, Socrates asks Euthyphro

Soc. And what is piety, and what is impiety?

Euth. Piety is doing as I am doing; that is to say, prosecuting any one who is guilty of murder, sacrilege, or of any similar crime-whether he be your father or mother, or whoever he may be-that makes no difference; and not to prosecute them is impiety. And please to consider, Socrates, what a notable proof I will give you of the truth of my words, a proof which I have already given to others:-of the principle, I mean, that the impious, whoever he may be, ought not to go unpunished. For do not men regard Zeus as the best and most righteous of the gods?-and yet they admit that he bound his father (Cronos) because he wickedly devoured his sons, and that he too had punished his own father (Uranus) for a similar reason, in a nameless manner. And yet when I proceed against my father, they are angry with me. So inconsistent are they in their way of talking when the gods are concerned, and when I am concerned.

and conversation proceeds thus

Soc. Remember that I did not ask you to give me two or three examples of piety, but to explain the general idea which makes all pious things to be pious. Do you not recollect that there was one idea which made the impious impious, and the pious pious?

Euth. I remember.

Soc. Tell me what is the nature of this idea, and then I shall have a standard to which I may look, and by which I may measure actions, whether yours or those of any one else, and then I shall be able to say that such and such an action is pious, such another impious.

Euth. I will tell you, if you like.

Soc. I should very much like.

Euth. Piety, then, is that which is dear to the gods, and impiety is that which is not dear to them.

then Socrates asks the now famous question

Soc. We shall know better, my good friend, in a little while. The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods.

If you are wondering why I chose to bore you with this discussion, bear with me a little longer. A friend of this blog, wrote

Please Mr. Atheist don’t tell me you don’t have a religion so you don’t know what is good from bad. You’ve got to be kidding me! Faulty moral judgments don’t affect anything but us.

and so, naturally, I asked what is good? And in his final response, he writes

I have, to the best of my knowledge, defined “good.” Suppose that truth and justice prevails at all times, then the murder of a person or entity who is a significant threat to humanity or life itself is good.

I believe in pacifism but I also believe in eliminating evil, if reformation or neutralization fails.

And I am wondering why accuse the atheist of not knowing what good is when, as in this scenario, it seems that good is doing anything that enhances the life of the community regardless of what this thing really is.

I will admit, as Socrates readily does, that I want to be enlightened. I want to be told what good is. Introducing justice and truth only increases my ignorance for these terms are also problematic.

I ask whoever is knowledgeable to clear my ignorance and explain these terms.

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