The Consolation of Philosophy
by Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
'The Consolation of Philosophy' Summary
Boethius writes the book as a conversation between himself and a female personification of philosophy. Philosophy consoles Boethius by discussing the transitory nature of fame and wealth ("no man can ever truly be secure until he has been forsaken by Fortune"), and the ultimate superiority of things of the mind, which she calls the "one true good". She contends that happiness comes from within, and that virtue is all that one truly has, because it is not imperiled by the vicissitudes of fortune.
Boethius engages with the nature of predestination and free will, the problem of evil, human nature, virtue, and justice. He speaks about the nature of free will and determinism when he asks if God knows and sees all, or does man have free will. On human nature, Boethius says that humans are essentially good and only when they give in to “wickedness” do they “sink to the level of being an animal.” On justice, he says criminals are not to be abused, rather treated with sympathy and respect, using the analogy of doctor and patient to illustrate the ideal relationship between prosecutor and criminal.
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, commonly called Boethius, was a Roman senator, consul, magister officiorum, and philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born about a year after Odoacer de...More on Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
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