Volume 54, Issue 4, December 2014
Michael Oliver Wiitala
The Forms in the Euthyphro and the Statesman
A Case against the Developmental Reading of Plato’s Dialogues
The Euthyphro is generally considered one of Plato’s early dialogues. According to the developmental approach to reading the dialogues, when writing the Euthyphro Plato had not yet developed the sort of elaborate “theory of forms” that we see presented in the middle dialogues and further refined in the late dialogues. This essay calls the developmental account into question by showing how key elements from the theory of forms that appear in the late dialogues, particularly in the Statesman, are already operative in the Euthyphro. When one identifies the way in which each of Euthyphro’s definitions of piety fails in light of Socrates’s arguments, one already finds the conception of form that Plato presents in the middle and late dialogues.