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Anyone interested in the philosophy of Boethius?

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posted on May, 25 2011 @ 06:24 PM
Does anyone know the Roman philosopher Boethius? Has anyone read the Consolation of Philosophy? My personal favorite, although not many people have even heard of it. The most comprehensive text on philosophy in just under 100 pages you'll ever find I think. Oh well...

So anyways, back to some type of topic at hand, are you interested in knowing about Boethius? The philosophy is sweet and peaceful, although it is lonely at the top. But not in a bad way, it's a goodness that is good regardless of whether or not other people partake in it, but all the more so when they do.

I shouldn't come out and say what it is and what it isn't, but rather should say it all revolves around the character of Philosophy, the personification of Philosophy, an Angel of Mercy, maybe even the Angel of Light. Very controversial figure. What if it were a conspiracy and she actually existed?

Basically, Boethius was a Roman senator, good guy, others didn't like him, so they ousted him. He makes a reference in the Consolation that if he went around sacrificing priests in a sacrilegious way, he would have at least gotten a trial. The one who imprisoned him was an Aryan king named Theodoric, who may have had remorse after Boethius was executed. However, in prison, Boethius supposedly wrote the Consolation of Philosophy, which was his conversation with some "Lady" named Philosophy. Obviously, the philosophy is a composite of Plato, Aristotle, Homer, and Plotinus although he is not mentioned by name, there is a striking similarity between Boethius and the Neoplatonists, although Boethius surely walks his own line. Interestingly, he is viewed as a Saint by official Roman Catholic standards, and there is even a cult following that is recognized by the religion and has their own feast day. This is interesting because Meister Eckhart was excommunicated from the church and still is shunned. But getting back to the conspiracy, since this is a conspiracy website or so I've heard, how could Boethius write such beautiful philosophy under threat of execution? Some of which even startles himself. How was the book transported out of the prison cell?

This is a sort of work in progress and I'm really just interested in hearing other people's opinions, then I'll have a better idea of where to go with this thread. Feel free to ask any questions about anything to do with the book, and here is a link to the book if you want to read it

This is not my work, I'm not making money off of this book, Boethius has been dead for 1500 years and I'm not part of his cult if they still exist, so unless he comes back from the dead somehow to haunt the ancestors of Theodoric, I don't think this is a problem sharing this with you. I've actually not even read the one on the link, my copy is by Victor Watts. But I will check up on this version here. Ok, I'm off to do some unrelated conspiracy research.

posted on May, 25 2011 @ 06:38 PM
Bocephus? Hank Williams Jr is into philosophy? Whodathunk?

Sorry, I can't help myself today, my dyslexia is keeping me amused.

posted on May, 25 2011 @ 09:13 PM
reply to post by filosophia

Nice, I've bookmarked this link and will continue to read it. I've never heard about this before. So far it looks pretty interesting and reads very poetically.

Thanks friend!


posted on May, 25 2011 @ 11:50 PM
link that's a name I've not heard in a long, long time...

I recall reading that many years ago, when I was forcing myself to read the "great books." (well worth forcing oneself to do, if you haven't yet). Boethius is one of the easier classical writers for the contemporatry mind to digest, because in many ways he lived in an era like our own. The empire was declining, there were powerful new beliefs and ideas on the rise, there was cultural confusion and information overload from an influx of new knowledge (Egytian, Persian, etc.) into the empire. At the same time, the classical era was drawing to a close, and it somehow seemed "everything has already been done." People were struggling with eclecticism, relativism, and decadence. This era (so-called "late antiquity") was like the "postmodern age" of the Roman Empire, and there is much that calls out to today's reader in books written around that time

Boethius himself, if I am not mistaken, wrote his book in prison, between sessions of torture I think. That fact alone makes the book an interesting psycological document.
edit on 5/26/11 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 26 2011 @ 12:51 AM
I haven't thought about Boethius in years!! I think it must have been in the Chaucer class I took in college for my English major that I was first introduced to it. Before we started reading any of the Chaucer in the class, we read 5 or 6 other short pieces of classical literature to give us a foundation to start from. The Consolation of Philosophy was one of them. I loved it! The discussion between Boethius and Philosophy is so intimate and is even at times tender. So lovely. I can't believe I had forgotten about it for so long! Going to re-read it this coming weekend. Thank you for reminding me about this wonderful work of literature!

Some of the others we read in that class were also just incredible pieces, including an Old English poem called "The Dream of the Rood," Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. Love 'em all!

posted on May, 26 2011 @ 03:39 AM
Very cool, thanks for sharing!

New name to me, but looking briefly it's something i can get stuck into! He also comes well recommended, thanks guys!

I'll print it out and read it in the evening, will come back to discuss ideas.

posted on May, 26 2011 @ 03:47 AM

Originally posted by silent thunder
the classical era was drawing to a close, and it somehow seemed "everything has already been done." People were struggling with eclecticism, relativism, and decadence.

The significance of these words to 21st century Western culture
cannot, in my opinion, be overstated.

Is it just me or does anyone hear a fiddle playing accompanied
by the smell of smoke ?

posted on May, 26 2011 @ 05:35 AM
Thank you Filo,

Have not thought about or read this late teens school/uni must be 20 years you are a star.

This is perfect timing for me as I just finished re-reading another but modern classic on Philosophy Mills on liberty, and To look at Boethius again and compare the two through culture, historical time and premises will be good.

I find the story as you mention of how and where he wrote the classic very interesting, and it reminds me of the persian Mathematician that first really described Light also in a prison cell (though under house arrest) awaiting death, about 1000 years ago, his graetest breakthroughs and work though in Science only happened once he was imprisoned, being the first book of Optics his Name was Alhazen.

Oh if anyone has not read this and like philosophy especially individual freedom and rights etc on Liberty by this man is a must : John Stuart Mill is seen as stronglt Ulilitarian though I am not soo sure if this is his point of starting, even if construed this way, I believe he was more interested in society than the individual, but realised the maxim "be the change" and that to create the differance in society had to change the individual first, it could not naturally be forced.

This is however totally against what is traditioanlly written about him just my take from reading his works.

Again thansk Filo I doubt if I would have ever looked at Boethius again unless prompted by your thread.

If anyone has not read his works please do it is a classic.

Kind Regards,


posted on May, 26 2011 @ 07:46 AM
Oh Fortuna, thou fetid wench...

43º F, in May. Nothing but wet. Too cold to plant too wet to expect plants to breathe....

Yes, I'd heard of Boethius, if only through reference to. Try O'Toole for a cliffnoted version of Boethius.

posted on May, 26 2011 @ 07:49 AM
I'm glad so many people enjoy Boethius. I was a bit disappointed last night with so few responses but I guess the ball began to roll. If anyone wants to discuss anything about the consolation I would be glad to partake in a discussion.

I feel emotional towards all 5 books within the consolation but the 5th always draws me to it. If Boethius was just writing his thoughts down, imagining this Philosophy character talking to him, he certainly used this creative imagination to his advantage by explaining a piece of philosophy that even he seemed to have trouble with. Boethius goes on a long rant about how God and fate can't co-exist, and then Philosophy explains it all with "more care than anyone before".

This just goes back to my initial thought of the character of Philosophy. She calls Plato her servant, and yet speaks highly of another when she says:

"The body of the holy one was built by heaven." (my version translation) -Author unknown.

Interesting that this statement is unknown, by default that would make it go to Boethius, then? Or Philosophy? What if she really was a spiritual being that helped Boethius get through his imprisonment?

Regardless, the metaphysics of Boethius is interesting to note

Senses - perceives things part by part
imagination - perceives sense knowledge without the need of sense objects
Reason - comprehends universal characteristics of real things
Intelligence - comprehends "simple form" the totality of knowledge, not uniform throughout all species.

What's interesting about this system is that the higher knowledge contains the lower, but without using the lower. So intelligence comprehends reason, imagination, and senses without using reason, imagination, or the senses. It is like an innate knowing once it is learned.

Intelligence is not the same throughout, of course, since God is eternal and knows things from an eternal perspective. This is how the issue of fate and free will is resolved, by saying on the level of eternity all things are controlled by God, and on a lower conditional level each thing has freedom based upon its level of intelligence and self-sufficiency.

Basically, if you read Boethius you never ask the question again of whether or not it is "fate" or "free will".

posted on May, 27 2011 @ 10:30 PM

Originally posted by filosophia

Regardless, the metaphysics of Boethius is interesting to note

Senses - perceives things part by part
imagination - perceives sense knowledge without the need of sense objects
Reason - comprehends universal characteristics of real things
Intelligence - comprehends "simple form" the totality of knowledge, not uniform throughout all species.

What's interesting about this system is that the higher knowledge contains the lower, but without using the lower. So intelligence comprehends reason, imagination, and senses without using reason, imagination, or the senses. It is like an innate knowing once it is learned.

Let me ask you this: Does he conceive of this hierarchy of knowledge (or any other aspect of his philosophical system) such that lower realms are somehow "eminating" from higher spheres? A metaphor for this might be a fountain of stacked stone bowls, with the water starting at the top, overflowing the uppermost bowl and spilling down into the next, and so on. Because it seems to me from reading this his thought might resonate with this kind of conception. At the very least, this kind of idea would have been part of Boethius's intellectual universe: The idea of lower orders of something (such as the elements of the knowledge system you mentioned) eminating from higher orders is strongly reminiscent of Valentinainism, another fascinating and once-very-widespread but later-forgotten school of philosophy. More generally, if you have the time and the interest to look at the link above, can you see any paralells between Valentinianism and the philosophy of Boethus? (see also the pretty-good Wikipedia entry on Valentinism if interested). I'd be curious as to whether he had imbibed from that particular well or not.

edit on 5/27/11 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 27 2011 @ 10:55 PM
reply to post by filosophia

Thank you for pointing me to yet another really good book. I found Consolation of Philosophy and Logic - Propositional logic of Boethius at 4shared dot com

Always looking for good books on philosophy.

No, I'm not really familiar with Boethius but now that I have two books concerning his philosophy god, just the first few pages are striking, his writing while imprisoned.

I who wrought my studious numbers
Smoothly once in happier days,
Now perforce in tears and sadness
Learn a mournful stain to raise.
Lo, the Muses, grief-dishevelled,
Guide my pen and voice my woe;
Down their cheeks unfeigned the teardrops
To my sad complainings flow!
These alone in danger's hour
Faithful found, have dared attend
On the footsteps of the exile
To his lonely journey's end.
These that were teh pride and pleasure
Of my youth and high estate
Still remain the only solace
Of the old man's mournful fate.
Old? Ah yes; swift, ere I knew it,
By these sorrows on me pressed
Age hath come; lo, Grief hath bid me
Wear the garb that fits the best.
O'er my head untimely prinkled
These white hairs my woes proclaim,
And the skin handgs loose and shrivelled
On this sorrow-shrunken frame.
Blest is death that intervenes not
In the sweet, sweet years of peace,.............more but I'll stop here

Now tell me Lady Gaga or any of the other fruit cake celebs out there now are half that deep.

You'll probably only get a few stars.

If I were a mod, I'de give you two applauses, this stuff is, while old and ancient, wise and worth reading.

Thank you for introducing me to this, I now have about 1,302 ebooks.

Boy, hope we never have a EMP.

Love his style.

Flipping through the book, Boethius seems like he was a man of honor................a rare being.

posted on May, 27 2011 @ 11:06 PM
reply to post by silent thunder

Yes the preface says he was imprisoned while writing the Consolation of Philosophy and the book link is here.

It looks quite interesting and a free ebook is always nice. I'm glad I added this one to my collection.

I also collect quotes and by chance found I actually had a few from him.

"Music is part of us, and either ennobles or degrades our behavior".

"Nothing is miserable unless you think it is so".

"In other living creatures the ignorance of themselves is nature, but in men it is a vice"

"The now that passes produces time, the now that remains produces eternity".

"Wretched men cringe before tyrants who have no power, the victims of their trivial hopes and fears. They do not realise that anger is hopeless, fear is pointless and desire all a delusion. He whose heart is fickle is not his own master, has thrown away his shield, deserted his post, and he forges the links of the chain that holds him."
— Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

"Balance out the good things and the bad that have happened in your life and you will have to acknowledge that you are still way ahead. You are unhappy because you have lost those things in which you took pleasure? But you can also take comfort in the likelihood that what is now making you miserable will also pass away."
— Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (The Consolation of Philosophy)

Very interesting.

I still say we should have a book review section on ATS.

posted on May, 27 2011 @ 11:16 PM
reply to post by MischeviousElf

Starred for your great link.............thank you.

Now I looked for a free ebook for John Mill on 4shared and couldn't find any in English..........all spanish.

If you find any internet links to his books please advise.

posted on May, 31 2011 @ 06:50 PM
reply to post by silent thunder

The metaphor Boethius uses is a set of concentric revolving circles, where the farther one out goes through a longer revolution than the one closer to the center, and if it clings to the center, it becomes free of fate altogether, i.e. the mind of God.

God is said to have eternal knowledge, so it would seem like the hierarchy of knowledge does emanate from this in some manner, but an additional sense is added on each level, giving the being its appropriate mode of knowledge.

The most important thing is when Philosophy states that knowledge depends not on the totality of the object of knowledge, but on the comprehension of the knower, which is why a being of an eternal nature comprehends objects more so than a man of limited reasoning.

posted on May, 31 2011 @ 06:51 PM
reply to post by ofhumandescent

Glad you took an interest. The poetry is wonderful and really adds to the philosophy. Truly a great book and a timeless piece of literature and philosophy.

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