A Bit More of Boethian Thought

As some of you may have noticed previously, Saint Severinus Boethius is one of my favorite thinkers. Here are some more great quotes from his masterpiece, The Consolation of Philosophy:

The first quote comes from Boethius’ explication of what is “good.” He follows the classic Augustinian paradigm of defining the “good.” God is at the top and all other goods are sorted below. Boethius rightly points out that when these “lesser” goods are sought without care for the highest good, we end up pursuing something “untrue.” We must seek the source rather than the tributary.

“Honor bestowed upon wicked men does not make them honorable; on the contrary, it betrays and emphasizes their dishonor. And why does this happen? It happens because you choose to call things by false names, even though the things in question may be quite different, and the things are then found to contradict their names by their effects. Therefore, material possessions are not rightly called riches, worldly power is not true power, and public honor is not true honor.”

In this next quote Boethius speaks of the transitory nature of fortune so that we may once again seek the highest good.

“Good fortune enslaves the minds of good men with the beauty of the specious goods which they enjoy; but bad fortune frees them by making them see the fragile nature of happiness.”

Finally, Boethius speaks about how the wicked are necessarily punished by moving further and further away from the good. If attaining the good is the best thing we can do, then moving away from the good is punishment in itself. Thus, we are called to help correct the wicked rather than punish them because they are already punished.

“For, though this may seem incredible to some, the wicked are necessarily more unhappy when they have their way than they would be if they could not do what they wanted to do. If it is bad to desire evil, it is worse to be able to accomplish it; for if it were not accomplished, the disordered will would be ineffectual. So, when you see someone with the will and the power to commit crime actually commit it, you know that he is necessarily the victim of a threefold misfortune; for each of these three things–the will, the power, and the act itself–contains its own punishment.”


~ by crossingthebosporus on July 17, 2012.

3 Responses to “A Bit More of Boethian Thought”

  1. I had not come across these thoughts – and thanks to you I have 🙂

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