It seems that philosophy is usually involved in justifying claims. Does it profer any consolation?

Have any philosophers written on the idea of "consolation" or indeed tried to console us?

  • Philosophy try to comfort us? My impression of philosophy is that it is a workout. It wears one out, but results in a strengthened disposition. I think art would be more of a consolation - the comfort of connecting with the artist, knowing that someone else feels what you feel and vice versa. Jun 27 '15 at 3:54
  • 1
    Boethius perhaps?
    – Joseph Weissman
    Jun 27 '15 at 14:02

The Consolation of Philosophy is a classic book, written by Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius in the 6th century AD. Boethius lived in the time of the fall of Rome. He was both an important philosopher (among other things, he began the project of translating Aristotle's works to Latin) and a high official, both in Rome and with its Ostrogoth conquerers. But due to some unfortunate occasion, he became suspected as a spy for Byzantine. He was arrested, imprisoned, and later executed.

It was during his imprisonment, that Boetius wrote The Consolation of Philosophy. This lovely little book is written in alternating prose and verse. It tells that, in his prison cell, Philosophy itself, in the image of a goddess, is revealed to Boethius. She reprimands him for his melancholy. Step by step, she reminds him of his philosophical teachings (Socratic and Platonic, mostly), and about what they entail about the real meaning and value in life. And thus, according to the book, Boethius is gradually letting go of his melancholy, and attains happiness in the midst of his misfortune.

The Consolation of Philosophy is said to have been widely read throughout the middle ages and the Renaissance. For some reason, it became less known later. Boethius himself was a christian, but his book is neither christian nor religious, but purely philosophical.

A taste of Boethius's philosophical verse (translated to English by H.R. James):

Whence he who yearns the truth to find
Is neither sound of sight nor blind.
For neither does he know in full,
Nor is he reft of knowledge quite;
But, holding still to what is left,
He gropes in the uncertain light,
And by the part that still survives
To win back all he bravely strives.

  • @mathematician you're welcome (; Jun 29 '15 at 16:27

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