Euthyphro and Socrates: The Sandwich
— Well, Socrates, I am happy to tell you what a sandwich is, as I have great knowledge of these things as you know.
— Thank you, Euthyphro, I will be glad to listen to you, for you are a learned man and I am just a poor beggar. So tell me, please, how can we know that which is a sandwich, apart from those things that are not sandwiches?
— Socrates, it could not be more simple. A sandwich is anything edible held in a container that is also edible.
— I see; that is very clear indeed. So this taco is a sandwich.
— No Socrates, that is a taco. A sandwich is something quite different, as you may quickly see by noting that they are called by different names.
— And yet, Euthyphro, here we have some soy ground beef—surely this is edible—and as you see, it is held in this container, which is a fried tortilla, and which I eat along with the material inside. Surely this is a sandwich!
— Well, Socrates, that is not quite right. I will try to be more clear: a sandwich is that which is edible, held in a container made of bread, surely.
— So then this hot dog, of course, is a sandwich. Thank you, Euthyphro!
— Well Socrates… a hot dog is something very like a sandwich, and yet it does not seem to me to be exactly a sandwich either, somehow. I see where you have misunderstood—let me clarify. A sandwich consists of some edible material, in between TWO pieces of bread, which must be separate from one another.
— I see; that is very clear indeed. So this pizza placed face down atop this other pizza, this is a sandwich.
— No, Socrates, I see that you do not understand at all. That is nothing like a sandwich.
— Now Euthyphro, how can this be? For truly here I see edible items—those are cheese, tomato sauce, and vegan pepperoni—and they are indeed to be found in between two pieces of bread—that is the pizza crust. How can this not be a sandwich, then?
— Well, Socrates, you have twisted my words around somehow. I did not mean ANY edible items in between ANY type of bread; I meant something rather more specific.
— Now Euthyphro, you are teasing a poor old man. You told me you would explain what a sandwich was, so that I might learn from your wisdom, yet now you seem to have told me nothing at all.
— Socrates, I will try to explain so that you might understand. A sandwich must be easily held in the hands, whereas two pizzas atop one another, as I’m sure you can see, are quite impossible to hold easily in the hands, as the whole is much too large and floppy.
— Ah, thank you Euthyphro, now I feel we are getting somewhere. Truly, now I think I understand. If a sandwich is something edible in between two pieces of bread, with the whole composed in such a way as to be easily held within the two hands, then obviously three pieces of bread, held together in the hands, is a sandwich.
— I do not see what you mean, Socrates. Surely a stack of pieces of bread is simply a loaf of bread, as any man knows.
— Now Euthyphro, you seem to be teasing me again, for look, here is a piece of edible bread, placed in between two other pieces of bread, the whole of which, you must agree, I hold quite easily in my hands, withered and shaking though they may be.
— Well Socrates, it is true, now that I think on it, that these three pieces of bread do in fact ascribe to my earlier definition. And yet, anyone could tell you that this is not a sandwich.
— Then Euthyphro I think you must start over, if you are ever to help me understand. Come now, don’t keep an old man waiting. Surely one as learned as you should easily be able to explain what a sandwich is to a poor old fool such as myself. Please begin again, and this time try to be more clear.
— Socrates I really must go, I will be late for my appointment.