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Boethius’ Philosophy

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Happiness, according to Boethius, is something that comes from within. Happiness is not found in things that are materialistic and tangible. While Boethius was imprisoned on charges of treason, he had plenty of time to figure such out because he knew that he would never be released. He would be forced to live out his life in prison, and eventually would be executed.

To being, Boethius says that happiness cannot be attained by tangible things. Things such as wealth, power and fame cannot provide true happiness. These things are things that are granted to one by Fortune but can be easily taken away by her as well. If one possesses something that they have the chance of losing, it is not truly theirs to begin with. It belongs to Fortune. While these things do bring temporary happiness, they are not permanent. One must find happiness in oneself through contentment and sufficiency to attain true happiness.

Next, Fortune is very unstable. There is not trust and stability associated with Fortune. Things can be taken away from a person just as quickly as they are bestowed upon them. The Wheel of Fortune shows this. It shows that things can change in an instant and without warning whether for good or bad. This is another reason that one must find happiness from within to experience true happiness. A person cannot rely on the material and tangible things to make them happy. They must look within to find the contentment that every person should possess to find happiness.

In relation to all of this is human nature. Most view things as though the good suffer, and the evil prosper. Because it is in human’s nature to do good, circumstance and society will cause one to do bad. This change in circumstance may cause a loss of possessions and reputation. Some seem to think that the bad are rewarded by Fortune, which is the overpowering force that brings reward and administers punishment in the world. The evil seem to be dominant in the world, when in reality they are punished by their own evil. Some also say that bad things only happen to good people. It is simply by chance that these bad things happen to what society sees as a good person. Because of circumstance, that good person may have done something out of character to warrant this awful occurrence. Fortune does not act on a certain type of person. It happens by chance just as the Wheel of Fortune shows.

In another sense, Boethius relates his writing to politics. He discusses the concept of perspective. Perspective is what causes one to look beyond what is right in front of them. It causes them to think of how current things will affect the future. In politics, one must assess the current situation and then look into the future to decide how they will handle things. They must always be aware that what is happening at the present moment can change the outcome of things in the future. That is why they must always have a viewpoint to where they can look past what is immediately in front of them to see the future and better plan for it.

Lastly, Boethius’ writings relate to education. Having an education helps to form ones judgment. With good judgment, one will have a quality that will allow them to govern. Because immediate decisions are never good, education helps to inspire one to make well thought out decisions that will benefit that person and those they govern over. Education also helps to establish reason within one. Happiness, simply a state of mind, relies on reason. One cannot be completely reliant on his emotions because they are unstable and come from the heart. Emotions cannot be controlled. When a person relies on reason, they are able to be content with what they have and know that they have the means for survival. They do not need things such as wealth, power, or fame to be happy. It helps a person to understand that someone else may have more or better things, but they are reasonable enough to be content with what they do have. In turn, they will be able to find true happiness that is within. This kind of happiness cannot be obtained through possessions. That is why reason is important for finding true happiness.

All in all, Boethius’ imprisonment caused him to realize that he could be happy, to an extent, with the situation he was in. Because he relied on reason rather than emotion, he could think with his brain and not his heart. His writing relates to human nature, politics, and education. Human nature is what inspires one to be good, but circumstance changes that. Perspective is needed when dealing with politics to look into the future and make decisions based on that. Learning to have good judgment and reason through education helps one be content and can also help on when they have political power. One should be content with their current situation and not rely on outside things to make them happy. If they just focus on what is within and be content, they will experience true happiness.

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