Saturday, July 21, 2012

Circularity and the Euthyphro Dilemma

The Maverick has said a bit more about his conception of metaphysical circularity in a post about Plato's Euthyphro Dilemma. Do the gods love piety because it is pious, or is it pious because they love it? He argues that the question is intelligible, and therefore, by implication, his questions about existence is intelligible. That is, we can intelligibly ask whether a man is white because a white man exists, or not.

Now I'm still puzzled. The Euthyphro question is intelligible because the terms "That which is loved by the gods"and 'that which is pious' have clearly different meanings. The gods may disagree on the nature of pious. Even if they agree, this offers us no insight into the nature of the pious. In later Western theology, this turned into the question of whether something is good simply because God wills it or whether God wills it because it is good and just. And the question is intelligible because 'good' does not have the same meaning as 'willed by God', even if the two referents turn out to be the same. (Perhaps it is similar to the question of whether Shakespeare was Edward de Vere, or not).

Now I agree that if 'a white man exists' has a different meaning from 'some man is white', then the question of whether some F is a G because some FG exists, is an intelligible one. But it is not intelligible if they have the same meaning, as London 'thin' theorists claim. After all, the statement

(1) Some man is white because some man is white

is not intelligible. Nor is

(2) Some man is white because the sentence 'quidam homo est albus' is true

For the Latin sentence 'quidam homo est albus' means the same as 'some man is white'. The one sentence translates into the other. So there is no meaningful 'because' here. So why does Maverick think that

(3) Some man is white because some white man exists.

is intelligible? He says as much in his comment #6. So does he think that 'some man is white' has the same meaning as 'a white man exists'? Surely not, for the reasons stated here. But if the meaning is different, what is that difference?

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