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Boethius

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By snowryder1
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His name may not be as common as Socrates or Plato, but Boethius’s work in philosophy and logic deserves a place in bookshelves right along these titans of thought and contemplation. Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (born: circa 475–7 C.E., died: 526? C.E.) has long been recognized as one of the most important intermediaries between ancient philosophy and the Latin Middle Ages. The senator, philosopher, and prisoner spent his life in Rome. He belonged to the ancient Roman family of the Anicii, which had been Christian for about a century and of which Emperor Olybrius had been a member. Boethius’s father had been consul in 487 but died soon afterward, and Boethius was raised by Quintus Aurelius Memmius Symmachus, whose daughter Rusticiana he married. He became consul in 510 under the Ostrogothic king Theodoric. Although little of Boethius’s education is known, he was evidently well trained in Greek. His everlasting work, The Consolation of Philosophy, was written while he was awaiting an execution for treason he may not have even committed.
Many people consider The Consolation of Philosophy one of the most time proven works of philosophy ever. This work helped to reshape numerous popular ideas in Europe at the time, and many of its principles still hold true even today. It is thought many believe that it is a commentary on Christianity even though it never mentions Christianity in itself; however it does lend itself towards Christian beliefs and Boethius was also known for his work with the church. While not necessarily a religious problem, Boethius spends a great deal of time contemplating evil; more specifically if God is perfect in his goodness, and is the unity of all things rules the world, how is it that evil is allowed to exist and is not always punished? In addition, where wickedness flourishes, virtue is often downtrodden and even stamped out. If God is omniscient and omnipotent and beneficent how can this evil continue in His world?
When Boethius contemplates the evil going on in the world, he is torn between what the church says to do versus what is really going on all around him. How could such evil men become so successful, while he himself (whom he considered a good man) be imprisoned, and eventually put to death, for a crime he did not even commit? In the end, Boethius comes to the highly optimistic conclusion that man is in fact not inherently evil. He in fact believes exactly the opposite, man is born good, but throughout life by performing sinful action man can become evil. Boethius compares evil to disease, and throughout life he is known to show love and compassion, whereas others would not, to sinful people. Boethius believe that naturally man is good and innocent, it’s only when the corruption of evil enters the picture that man becomes evil. This brings up another of his contemplations; does man really have free will or is his fate predetermined?
Boethius’s ideas on good versus evil hinge on the idea that man actually has free will. He argues with himself if mankind truly possess free will; and if not does man have a predetermined destiny that God has laid out before him at birth. Just like before, this topic bears heavy religious significance. In the end, Boethius’s contemplation tells us even if the future is already ordained (actually not ordained, since, to God, it has already happened) we still must strive to join ourselves with our Creator through prayer. We are temporal creatures, and we can only understand things in a temporal way. This doesn't mean we can't participate in eternity by striving to be one with God. Both The Consolation of Philosophy, along with many of Boethius’s other works, helped to shape philosophy and logic yesterday as well as today. His work is some of the most inspirational work known to date. Boethius’s ideas were not only influential in the Middle Ages, but are still heavily discussed today; many people live today by the principles laid down by these immortal thoughts and contemplations.

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[ 1 ]. Marenbon, John, "Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius", The Stanford Encyclopedia of 1 1 1-1 1. Philosophy (Summer 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .
[ 2 ]. 2 "Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2013
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[ 3 ]. Elizabeth Hayes Smith. Miller, W.C. ed. "The Consolation of Philosophy Study Guide: Summary and Analysis of Book IV". GradeSaver, 07 July 2007 Web. 20 November 2013.
[ 4 ]. Elizabeth Hayes Smith. Miller, W.C. ed. "The Consolation of Philosophy Study Guide: Summary and Analysis of Book V". GradeSaver, 07 July 2007 Web. 20 November 2013.

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