Cool Logic

Riccardo Pinosio (ILLC)

Some remarks on Boethius' Consolations of Philosophy

March 22nd at 17:30, in Science Park 107 F1.15

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius had been at the service of Theoderic the Great, king of Italy and patricius of the Eastern Roman Empire, since his early youth. Belonging to one of the most important families of the Empire, he had enjoyed a most brilliant political career, which culminated when both his two sons obtained the consular dignity. An erudite and well respected scholar, he had already translated most of the Aristotelean Organon, and was planning to translate the whole works of Aristotle and Plato, and to combine them into one organic philosophical system. It then seemed to him that he had reached true happiness.

In 524 A.D., however, he was accused of treason. Deprived of all his titles and possessions, he was sentenced to death, jailed in Pavia (northern Italy), and eventually brutally tortured and executed. While in prison, he wrote the Consolation of Philosophy, a book of meditations on ethics written in the form of a dialogue between him and lady philosophy herself. Remarkable in its philosophical depth and moving poetic beauty, the consolation will enjoy unlimited popularity in the middle ages, becoming part of the western philosophical canon.

The first part of the talk will introduce this work to the audience, examining Boethius' answer to what is arguably the most important question of all: "What is happiness, and how can we achieve it?".
The second part will focus more on specific aspects of Boethius' epistemology and philosophy of time, such as his distinction between eternity and perdurance.