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The Consolation of Philosophy Kindle Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Kindle, April 10, 2002

Length: 144 pages

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Language Notes

Text: English, Latin (translation)

About the Author

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, commonly called Boethius (ca. 480–524 or 525 AD), was a philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born in Rome to an ancient and prominent family which included emperors Petronius Maximus and Olybrius and many consuls. His father, Flavius Manlius Boethius, was consul in 487 after Odoacer deposed the last Western Roman Emperor. Boethius, of the noble Anicia family, entered public life at a young age and was already a senator by the age of 25.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1075 KB
  • Print Length: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (April 10, 2002)
  • Publication Date: April 10, 2002
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007UM7OHS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,726,730 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
That Boethius was the "last of the Romans and the first of the scholastics", as has often been said of him, makes him a most unusual character in the history of thought. Serving as a bridge between two worlds, his writings, infused with the ideas of both Aristotle and Plato -- the two giants of ancient Greek philosophy -- allowed for the transmission of Neoplatonism into the emerging Christian intellectual tradition. Through the figure of Boethius the Latin West came to inherit many of the achievements of Greek learning.
The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius's magnum opus, was one of the most widely read works in medieval Europe, especially in the twelfth century. No doubt, the dramatic context in which the work was written must have greatly accentuated its popularity. But there is more to the Consolation then simply a dramatic background, and this feature in itself would hardly explain the influence of the work on figures ranging from King Alfred to St.Thomas Aquinas. Boethius, being at once a Christian and a philosopher, was confident that reason and faith were reconcilable, and his entire literary enterprise can be summarised in his own words: fidem rationemque coniunge (show the harmony of reason and faith). An inheritor of the Greek tradition, he held that the world was a KOSMOS -- rationally structured, therefore rationally knowable. What makes the Consolation unique is that although it is a religious text, it doesn't make recourse to revealed religion; in Boethius's case, Christianity. That Boethius sought to answer religious questions without reference to Christianity, relying solely on natural philosophy, caused some later figures to question his religious allegiance prior to his death.
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Format: Paperback
This is an account of the ability of the human mind to rise above a man's material failures and the external evils that assault him. Boethius (c 480-524 AD), a Roman scholar and philosopher/statesman, has led a life of privilege and influence. He has taken a stand of conscience in support of the integrity of the Roman senate and, in doing so, has taken a stand contrary to the designs of the Ostrogothic king Theodoric. He is imprisoned (and eventually executed), presumably for subversion or treason, on the strength of perjured testimony against him.
Boethius laments his adverse 'fortunes' and has a vision in which a majestic woman appears to counsel him. She tells him "it is time for medicine rather than complaint," and that he suffers from "the common illness of deceived minds." Boethius recognizes her -- "I saw that she was Philosophy, my nurse, in whose house I had lived from my youth." The consolations that follow are structured in five books (i.e., chapters).
In Book Two, Lady Philosophy examines the nature of the gifts of Fortune. These gifts of Fortune cannot be "good in themselves; whatever goodness is associated with them is to be found in the personal probity of those who happen to possess them." In Book Three, evil is seen as merely the absence of the Good, as Augustine of Hippo had earlier argued. In Book Four, the question of whether virtue is rewarded and evil is punished is examined. At first look it certainly appears that evil often succeeds. Here Providence is contrasted to Fate. For this reader, books three and four were rather weakly argued and tedious, although I am always reluctant to say this about a classic work such as this. The strengths of The Consolation are books 1, 2, and 5.
Book Five is an excellent consideration of the determinism versus freedom problem.
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Format: Paperback
Awaiting his execution on trumpted up charges, Boethius attempts to reconcile his unjust sentence with concepts of "justice", "power", "happiness" and of course, "faith." Considered the first truly medieval philosopher, Boethius conducts a Platonic dialogue with Lady Philosophy, attempting to reconcile his Christian faith with the classical rationalist philosophy of Artistotle and Plato. What results is the first elucidation of "scholasticism" - and Boethius' conclusion that faith and reason are reconcilable.

Beyond the philosophical, I was struck by Boethius' resignation to his fate and his quiet confidence in the wrongs being righted. "No one can doubt that God is almighty" Philosophy began. "Certainly not, unless he is mad" I answered. "But nothing is impossible for one who is almighty." "Nothing." "Then can God do evil?" "No, of course not." "Then evil is nothing, since God, who can do all things, cannot do evil."

Both an excellent philosophical tract and a testament to the strength of human reason and belief, I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
The truly amazing thing about this work is that it was written in PRISON as Boethius awaited execution (following judgment and conviction based upon spurious charges). Bearing that in mind as I read "The Consolation of Philosophy" (if anyone ever needed consolation, it was an innocent man awaiting his own death; Christians should be able to relate to that idea) made it all the more remarkable. If you ever feel that life isn't fair, that others have it "in" for you, that it's tough to get an even break, maybe reading this will put things in better perspective. If not, it won't be due to Boethius' shortcomings....
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