Happiness as Defined by Boethius and Thomas Aquinas

Topics: Theology, God, Metaphysics Pages: 4 (1288 words) Published: June 28, 2008
The concept of happiness has concerned the mind of man since ancient times. Evidence of this can be found in the numerous volumes written on the subject of true happiness and how such a state of mind can be obtained. Two such works, Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy and St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, although written over seven hundred years apart, posit the Christian notion of God as an integral part of human happiness. Differences between the two philosophies come to light when one compares the Platonic ideals of Boethius to the Aristotelian basis of Aquinas' thoughts. However, although both works are excellent examples of theological and teleological thought, neither definitively and undoubtedly proves a link between the Christian God and human happiness. In order to understand the shortcomings of Boethius' and Aquinas' philosophies, one must first understand the basic tenets of life each proposes. The Consolation of Philosophy is a dialogue between the avatar of logic, Philosophy, and Boethius, who, after amassing huge quantities of wealth and power, is suddenly thrust into the depths of grief by the loss of all he has gained. While bemoaning his fall from grace, he is approached by the figure of Philosophy, and it is here that Boethius first displays his belief in God when he states "God the Creator watches over His creation. The day will never come that sees me abandon the truth of this belief" (Boethius 50). This belief in God is central to Boethius' soon to be conceived understanding of happiness. Soon after this idea is affirmed, Boethius reveals his Platonist attitude when Philosophy comments that Boethius' "[defenses] have been breached and your mind has been infiltrated by the fever of emotional distraction" (Boethius 51). To this Boethius replies, "my memory has been blunted by grief" (Boethius 51). This concept of forgetting what one once knew to be the truth is a central tenet of the Platonist system of life. Indeed,...
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