Boethius and The Consolation of Philosophy Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein In a very literal sense, Boethius was a bridge between the Christian and Classical worlds. In his dialogue with Dame Philosophy, the writer follows the general approach of the Platonic dialogue, using reasoning methods that employ appeals to authority, definitions of terms, syllogistic reasoning, and summaries of all sides of an argument. Nevertheless, all the argumentation is in service to the most important idea that philosophy can assist human beings in facing misfortune because it can lead one to union with God. In the portion of The Consolation of Philosophy in your text (from chapters IX and X), the discussion between the writer and Dame Philosophy is on the nature of happiness, which derives as a result of experiencing that which is good. First he uses definition, which is then modified and clarified, of the term “happiness.” Then he defines the nature of the term “good.” He shows that human beings can recognize experience as imperfect only because at some level we understand that something better must exist. He uses a basic syllogistic approach to demonstrate the goodness of God: 1. God is the creator of all things. 2. The creator of all things must be all good. 3. Therefore, God is all good. If you do not argue with the first two premises, then the third must follow. Later he uses another syllogistic approach when he says: 1. God is supreme good. 2. Supreme good is happiness. 3. Therefore, God is happiness. By inference he draws the corollary that if happiness is divinity, and if through the possession of happiness people become happy, then it must follow that to be happy is to experience divinity; to the extent one is happy, one participates in divinity. The “pursuit” of happiness is therefore also equated with the pursuit of good, or the goodness inherent in any experience, and ultimately he comes round to his chief goal by demonstrating that pursuing happiness is also pursuit of God, because God is found only in goodness and nowhere else. I would also draw your attention to the idea that God is also viewed as Light in both pieces of poetry that are part of this selection. It is virtually a universal construct that God is equated with Light (see the article in the section on Islam entitled “God as Light.”) Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily