Forgetfulness and Misology in Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy

Abstract
In book one of the Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius is portrayed as a man who suffers because he forgot philosophy. Scholars have underestimated the significance of this portrayal and considered it a literary device the goal of which is simply to introduce the discussion that follows. In this paper, I show that this view is mistaken since it overlooks that this portrayal of Boethius is the key for the understanding of the whole text. The philosophical therapy that constitutes the core of the ?Consolation? can in fact be properly evaluated only if we recognize the condition it is designed to cure. Through the portrayal of Boethius's forgetfulness, the ?Consolation? illustrates that it is the very nature of philosophical knowledge that makes it susceptible to being forgotten. Philosophical knowledge can (i) turn into misology, when it appears unable to solve certain problems, and (ii) be overrun by strong emotions. The therapy offered in the ?Consolation? is designed to make Boethius aware of the ?fragility? of philosophical knowledge and show him how to ?strengthen? it. He is taught how to more fully embody philosophy's precepts and that philosophy's inability to solve certain problems reveals not its failures but its limits
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