The consolations of Boethius

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The paper considers the account of happiness given in Boethius’s Consolations of Philosophy. This account claims that happiness requires security of possession, and argues from this requirement to the conclusion that worldly goods, which of their nature cannot be securely possessed, cannot provide happiness. This argument is shown to depend on assuming a life-driven account of human motivation, rather than a goods-driven account of human motivation. The life-driven account, according to which voluntary actions are ultimately motivated by the pursuit of a certain kind of life, is defended against the goods-driven account, according to which actions are motivated by the pursuit of goods the enjoyment of which can only be episodes in a human life. It is claimed that Boethius is right in holding a life-driven account, and that his account of happiness follows from it.

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Journal Article

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