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Lecture 7

PHIL 3060 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Sophia (Wisdom), De Interpretatione, Medieval Philosophy

Course Code
PHIL 3060
Peter Eardley

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PHIL 3060
Lecture – Boethius
Midterm: Book 2 of Nicomachean Ethics vs. Book 19 of City of God – their idea of the
final good, happiness, etc.
430 AD Augustine dies – Boethius born around 480AD, died 524AD
Came from distinguished Roman family, became involved in political life – after fall of
Roman Empire, Rome is ruled by kings
oRome becomes weak
Boethius becomes advisor to the King; he was also a scholar who knew Plato very well, and
accepted view that wise people should rule
oBoethius’ plan was to translate all of Aristotle’s work from Greek into Latin – didn’t
get far, and then all ancient work was lost to the west for a while
523 AD – arrested on charges of treason, and while in prison awaiting death he writes his
book “The Consolation of Philosophy”
oHe’s meditating and reflecting on his change in fortune
oHe does play in important role in the development of Western thought, like Cicero,
and he passed down to the Latin world many ideas of Greek thought
oThe Consolation was a popular work – more than 400 manuscripts survived,
demonstrating that many people were reading it
His influence:
oHe classified the various branches of the sciences of philosophy
oThe Problem of Universals (universals being the objects of knowledge) –reflects on
the relation of universals to the world/reality, becomes a big issue for him – he
introduces this issue to Western philosophy
Nominalist thinks universals exist only in the mind
Realists believe that universals really exist outside – Aristotle and Plato were
both realists
oIntroduces to medieval philosophy the Problem of Future Contingents
De Interpretatione book 9 – Aristotle raises issue of whether true statements
about the future determine the future
This will be an issue for Christians/monotheists, who believe God determines
Will focus on book 5 of the Consolation: Divine Foreknowledge of Human Actions
oPlatonic type work – composed of dialogue between him and Lady Philosophy, an
allegorical representation of philosophy – this is Sophia (wisdom) to him and he is
having a dialogue with her after she appears to him
oShe is associated with the essence of God, because God is the source of wisdom
oPhilosophy for Boethius = pursuit and love of God
oUnlike Augustine’s work, there is no appeal to scripture in Boethius’ work, which is
unusual for this period
Book 5 is an exploration of luck/chance/fortune – at the beginning, he asks Lady Philosophy
to explain what chance is
oChance is contingent – something contingent happens either by chance or by human
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