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Consolation of philosophy, Boethius.docx

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Peter King

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-Due to being on the wrong end of an argument between the senate and emperor, senate was sent to
prison and executed
-Boethius writes this book before he gets executed
-Book opens with someone who's trying to console themselves while in prison
-Boethius raises a philosophical problem of "Why don't people get what we deserve?"
-Problem is that the good do poorly and the wicked go unpunished
-Philosophy can be a consolation for some of the deepest problems
-Good fortune seems to fall on people randomly, doesn't have rhyme or reason
-Lady Philosophy provides the popular consolation:
Count your blessings
Good fortune only comes with bad fortune
Good fortune, as well as bad fortune, passes
-Boethius seems to reject all of these methods
-The goods of fortune - money, foremost - cannot provide happiness. This is Boethius's reasoning:
Happiness is the highest good
A good that cannot be taken away is better than one that can be taken away
The goods of fortune can all be taken away
-One may know or not know that goods of fortune can be taken away
If one doesn't know, they can't actually be happy
If one does know, they either care or not care
If one doesn't care, the goods of fortune aren't what makes them happy
If one does care, they will be anxious about losing them and won't be happy
-Goods of fortune consist of wealth, honours, power, fame and fortune, and pleasure
-The goods of fortune are a sham. What appeals to the intellect is good
-The supreme good: take what the goods of fortune promise you
-Five characteristics of the supreme good:
Due respect
Fair fame
-Have power to secure your self-sufficiency which gives you respect. Respect gives you fame and you'll
be happy
-Does the supreme good exist? Evidence that it does:
The world exists.
The world is imperfect in a number of ways.
In order to judge something that's imperfect, there must be an ideal standard to go upon. (Theory
of the Forms)
Anything short of the Supreme Good came from something better.
There has to be a finishing point. There is no infinite regress.
-The Supreme Good is found in God
-Nothing is better than God, therefore God is good.
-Suppose someone outside of God has the Supreme Good which means that he has something that God
lacks. However, since that contradicts the first statement, then God has the Supreme Good
-Suppose there are two Gods who both have the Supreme Good. The first God lacks some supreme
good, which means that he's not the Supreme Good which is contradictory. This means that there is only
one God who has the Supreme Good
-The good are powerful and the wicked powerless
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