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The Platonic dialogue titled the Euthyphro closely examines why it is significant to question our beliefs and views on various subjects. A vital concept that stands out is the idea of Socratic questioning. As discovered through Socrates’ and Euthyphro’s discussion, Socrates deems that questioning is the only defensible form of teaching, and thus, he continues to question Euthyphro’s definition of piety. Consequently, Plato reminds his audience that we must examine our viewpoints even if the consequences are further pain and confusion. In this aspect, Plato is correct, as it is crucial for one to view their beliefs objectively to comprehend the type of actions they take and defend these actions sincerely.
Furthermore, one must know that clinging to a false assumption of certainty can make one unconscious of the world’s true reality. Yet, individuals cannot know this without subjecting their views to rational examination. There are many cases where beliefs can be progressive and expand one’s life by opening up new possibilities. Alternatively, these beliefs can also be harmful and limit one’s life by confining what they think they are capable of. The type of person that we are today and what we have accomplished come as a direct result of the beliefs that are implanted in one’s mind. Beliefs are therefore essential to understanding our development as an individual. The ideas we hold to be true play a significant factor in controlling the things we do in life, and thus, the level of success that we feel is possible to achieve. For instance, consider that if we never went to university, then the greatest we would ever amount to is working a low paying job. If we did not go to university and held to this belief, then working an unsatisfying job would probably be our situation for the duration of our lives. However, we must take into consideration the stories of those who did not have a college or university degree, and yet they still went on to become successful individuals. As a result of questioning the initial belief that one needs a degree to be successful, one’s viewpoint begins to change, as do their actions. These actions include looking for higher paying jobs or developing their own business instead of settling for the lowest possible outcome.
The notion of one’s actions being created by our beliefs is further investigated in Euthyphro. As Socrates discusses the meaning of piety, Euthyphro’s first response is that “what is beloved by the gods is pious, and what is not beloved by them is impious.” Yet, Socrates attempts to explain Euthyphro’s reasoning by describing that being approved by the gods is an example of either coming to be so or of being affected by something. For example, if the gods all agree on one action being pious, it would be because they said so, not because it is pious in its pure form of piety. Yet, not all gods can agree with one action being holy. Thus, Socrates concludes: “So the beloved is not pious, Euthyphro, nor is the pious beloved by the gods, as you claim, but the one is different from the other.” By questioning Euthyphro’s initial belief in regards to the concept of piety, Socrates shows that his definition does not fully explain why that action is right, but rather, it only tells us that the action has the quality of being loved by the gods. Consequently, this idea allows the readers to think about the fact that doing the divine action is more than just being loved by god — it is about taking action that is right in its true form, regardless of what anyone believes. Therefore, if Euthyphro changes his beliefs on the concept of piety, the act of charging his father may have changed. He is only taking a stand against his father because he believes that it is what the gods approve.
Overall, this is why examining one’s beliefs are imperative because the costs of their actions shape one’s life. Additionally, their efforts are shaped by their opinions. A false assumption of belief can also form if one does not critically examine their beliefs. To further illustrate this point, false beliefs can cause difficulty in self-improvement, because they tend to create an incorrect picture of reality and lead to self-deception. In other words, a false belief causes us to view things in the way we want to see them, rather than how they realistically are. In doing so, they blind us to the truth, quite similar to an illusion.
The #MeToo movement of 2018 explores the concept of false beliefs in a more relevant context. While a lot of women and men are open to changing their perspective on sexual harassment in the workplace based on the stories of survivors who have spoken up, there are also many that refuse to believe that abuse of power exists. Their negative reaction is a form of disbelief and a coping mechanism. Instead of embracing the dialogue of equality and respect for women, some men will “cling to the world they knew before hearing [their] stories.” Moreover, particular groups of men are not preapred to see the universal reality that exists. After all, their experiences are not the reality of those that have been victimized by sexual oppression. This human reflex of denial is similar to holding on to past beliefs. They still want to believe in a world where sexual assault hardly occurs by an average individual such as their friends, colleagues, or favorite celebrities. Often, the true reality of this situation can be uncomfortable or painful for one to deal with. So rather than confronting that discomfort, it is often easier to be comfortable with the illusion that false beliefs provide. Thus, it is necessary to examine these false beliefs to expand one’s awareness of themselves and their surroundings.
Euthyphro’s false sense of belief is clearly illustrated in the Platonic dialogue. In fact, he refuses to change his opinion in the end. For example, as Socrates requests Euthyphro to provide a more suitable definition of piety after several failed attempts, he becomes even more irritated. Euthyphro remarks: “Well, some other time, Socrates, because I’m in a hurry to get somewhere and it’s time for me to go.” Rather than attempting to reexamine his beliefs on the meaning of righteousness, Euthyphro lets his frustration overshadow him and ends the conversation rather rudely. Euthyphro’s agitated tone throughout this scene is an indication that he refuses to change his views based on Socrates’ suggestions. By automatically rejecting new viewpoints introduced by Socrates, Euthyphro clings to his existing beliefs, blinding him from reality. Socrates’ discussion in Euthryphro weaves an intricate perspective on why it is essential to live an examined life. In other words, Socrates feels that he is responsible for making people conscious of their ignorance.
The Platonic dialogue of the Euthyphro demonstrates the significance of examining our beliefs and questioning them to resolve their contradictions. Yet, this idea of seeking new perspectives does not derive solely from Plato, but also from our world as a whole. If one keeps holding on to past beliefs without attempting to question them or view them from a different outlook, many of our views and actions will occur as a result of previous beliefs. This can be hard to change, as we unconsciously establish a barrier around our thoughts, which can prevent personal growth and change as individuals. Therefore, it is imperative that one is responsible for critically examining their own beliefs while keeping in mind that false beliefs prevent one from personal development. With this new mentality, individuals can create positive change in their own life and the lives of others.
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