The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius - Book V

October 11 2018

The Consolation of Philosophy - Book V

Boethius is very close to understanding it all. He has a few, fundamental questions left.

Does chance actually exist?

No, chance is nothing, Philosophy says. If chance is defined as random motions instead of sequences of events, it cannot exist. Nothing comes from nothing, all comes from something (namely, providence). Even accidents are not chance.

An accident presumes a sequence of events. One finds a pot of gold when digging for potatoes? That presumes one dug somewhere and someone buried gold. In consequence, ‘chance’ is simply an unexpected result of an action that was done for some other purpose.

Does providence constrain free will then?

Free will exists, because it is necessary for humans’ ability to act rationally. The tilt to goodness (and thus, to god), requires a person to understand what is desirable and to avoid what is not. This reasoning ability presuppose free will.

Free will however, can be inhibited. In fact, those most enslaved, are those who have abandoned reason in favour of vices. They could have chosen otherwise however, due to their free will.

But how can god know everything that will happen and still, there is free will?

Even if an event is foreseen, it does not occur because it is foreseen. Foreknowledge does not necessitate what will happen.

For example: at a horse race, you have foreknowledge on what is going to happen (RACING!), yet, no race must necessarily occur!

God is using intuitive knowledge to come to its conclusion. Intuitive knowledge perceives universal form and individual parts of this form, it includes reason, theoretical understanding, imagination’s shape and the senses’s materiality.

To understand these aspects of the highest knowledge, Lady Philosophy lists who has what:

Immovable creatures, such as clamps, cling to rocks and feel - they have sense perception, they perceive only what is material.

Moving creatures also have imagination, which makes it possible for them to move one way or another. Imagination however, does not consider the universal forms.

Reason, Philosophy claims, is inert only to humans, but it does not allow for the comprehension of individual forms.

God has all of those characteristics, sprung from his singular mind.

Thus, imagination > sense, reason > imagination and intuitive knowledge > reason. Corporeal beings judge using their limited capabilities and can therefore not comprehend things without a definite outcome.

Things are not known by their nature, but by the nature of whom is comprehending them.

God has intuitive intelligence, it is eternal and so god sees all things instantly.

The answer to how free will and foreknowledge can co-exist is then simply the wrong question. It is not pre-vision that god has, but providence. The knowledge of the instant.

And so, god punishes and rewards according to how humans use their free will.