Essay Sample Analyzing an Ethical Book: Boethius

Published: 2022-05-26
Essay Sample Analyzing an Ethical Book: Boethius
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophy Ethics
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1275 words
11 min read

Boethius was an ancient European philosopher born in the 6th century Rome. His philosophical works have created and caused an impact around the globe which is being felt to this very day. For this, he is considered one of the greatest philosophers to ever live and is even considered to have been very instrumental during his time just like Socrates or Plato. Boethius lived a very interesting life, where at one point he was a senator and later a prisoner. It was during his time in prison and before his execution for alleged treason that Boethius wrote The Consolation of Philosophy.

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The Consolation of Philosophy is considered to be one of the greatest works of Boethius. This philosophical piece was so magnificent that it gained him international recognition and decorum. The principles and ideas communicated in this book have remained relevant and have actually played a significant role in shaping Europe to this day. Though the book does not touch on religion it has been associated with Christianity as it contains many principles and knowledge that is synonymous with Christianity. In addition to that, it goes ahead to confront a very controversial topic in religion, why evil exists and why God allows evil to exist yet he is so compassionate?

While confronting this questions, Boethius makes a comparison between religious teachings and reality of what really transpires in the world over. He is perplexed by the fact that evil men succeed while good men undergo a lot of suffering. He was an example of the many good men who went through much suffering and tribulations at the time as he had been sentenced to death for a crime he had not committed. He then came to the conclusion that men are not evil in their nature, rather men become evil by submitting to evil and its vices (Relihan).

Another issue confronted by Boethius in The Consolation of Philosophy is that of free will which also had Christian influences. He was in a dilemma not knowing for sure whether humans have free will at all, or whether a supreme God ordains everything that happens in our lives. If the latter was true, then it meant to him that God ordained for all evil happening in the world to happen. He could not see how an all-loving God would allow and order evil to happen in the world. He finally came to the realization that God in his wisdom gave the man the will to choose between good and evil without His interference. By doing so, then the man had control over his own fate.

Despite knowing this, Boethius still questioned about chance and whether the world as it is was predetermined from the beginning or just happened by chance. He debated with himself on whether random things happen by chance without a cause. Do things happen for a reason, or do they just happen? These were his questions. He negates the view of philosophy on this matter by stating that uncertainty and random events cannot be in God's mind because according to Boethius, if God ordained things to happen in the world, then no event was random (Relihan). To this, philosophy answered by saying that all events that occur have caused. Also that those causes may be visible or hidden to men and are governed by providence. Philosophy goes ahead to explain that there must be free will for rational nature to exist and that judgment and free will were part of rational nature. It also asserts that the more an individual is rational in decision making, and the more they seek God, the freer they become. In contrast, philosophy declares that wicked men are under control of vices and therefore cannot be considered free. Philosophy then concludes that although God knows everything before it happens, he does not direct people's choices as he has given each and every one a free will to choose.

Boethius protested this thinking saying that both ideas were oppositional to each other. He asked how God could know about things before they happened and still not control our free will. Philosophy tries to answer this questions by pondering on the mind of God. It asserts that God's knowledge of the world is not the same as ours. That God, is not bound by time or space like us humans and therefore does not see the world in a sequence of events but instead possesses knowledge of the world and everything that happens from the beginning to the end. There is, therefore, no uncertain future for God, anything is possible and anything can happen and has already happened in his mind. He, therefore, does not play a role in influencing our free will to make choices but the choices we make are already part of his foreknowledge of this world.

This raises a trivial topic on the effectiveness of prayer. Boethius asks why we pray yet God is all-knowing. Philosophy once again answers him by stating that prayer is the only conduit of communication between God and humans. That though the future is already known to God, the matter is not that simple and remains a mystery to all of us since we are just but temporal beings. Therefore each and every one should live a prayerful life and seek God in their lives. Boethius after receiving guidance and insight on the matter from philosophy, concludes by saying that God is the judge of all creation and that everyone should seek virtue in life.

Most of the topics discussed in The Consolation of Philosophy are still debated by many today, like Providence and foreknowledge. Boethius explains providence as the ordaining of all things by God and though at first was against the idea of God being all-knowing yet having no influence on human's free will, he finally attests to that idea as there is no evidence to contradict. Also, Boethius adds that for most of this philosophical questions, faith is needed so as to get solutions.

Boethius gives much credit to Aristotle for most ideas and questions he sought to ask. However, the preceding facts are his. Free will is quite crucial in his book as it is a part of the Catholic faith. If free will did not exist, then nobody would be held accountable for their actions and hence no need to pray for forgiveness. Therefore, so as to remain orthodox, Boethius reconciles his view on free will to Providence. The idea of wicked people not being free as the virtuous is part of this argument. Philosophy dictates that if at all the wicked people enjoy free will, then their choices could be seen as valid, but since they are under control of their vices and immorality, they are unable to make rational and sober decisions in their lives.

The problem with this idea is that it strips God off His perceived good nature. Boethius in his book asks a controversial question. That if God was all knowing, and was aware of all happenings in the world including evil, then why does not stop evil from happening, or turn the evil men to become men of virtue and character (Relihan). Philosophy answers him by assuring that free will is paramount to God and therefore under no circumstance can He compromise our own free will even when he does not agree or like what we do. In addition, philosophy puts it clear for Boethius that God allows for free will to thrive in society because, without free will, no one can be made accountable for their actions or inactions.

Works Cited.

Relihan, Joel C. Consolation of philosophy. Hackett Publishing, 2001.

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