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Boethius – United in desire for the good

July 5, 2014

“I think that the mind is not to be so easily dismissed, and although it can sometimes be clouded and confused, still, what it wants is its proper good; but, like some drunk on his way home, it cannot remember which is the right path. Are those who are trying not to want for anything really wrong? It certainly is conducive to happiness to have plenty, to need no one’s help, and to be entirely self-sufficient. Are those who want reverence and respect altogether wrong? The effort of men to obtain respect is by no means base or contemptible. Is power a bad thing? Surely, it is better than weakness. And is fame always bad? Nobody can argue that most things that are excellent are also famous. And it hardly needs to be said that happiness is not possible for one who is worried, or depressed, or afraid of pain or trouble.
These are all things that men want – wealth, high office, power, fame, and pleasure – because these are the things they think will make them happy. The good, then, is that which men pursue by these various means and avenues. And we can look to nature in admiration because, although men have different ideas about how to go about it, they are united in their desire for the good.”

(from The Consolation of Philosophy, translated by David Slavitt)


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