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Chapter 3

One chapter per week study of a book that profoundly influenced C. S. Lewis.

Chapter 3

Postby Guest » 20 Apr 2005, 12:56

Boethius wrote:...our chief aim is to displease the wicked.
What do you think of that line? Reminds me of Socrates, the "gadfly." And Kierkegaard, the "Christian-gadfly." From close to our own day, Martin Luther King. I liked this chapter more than the first two and yet I don't have anything more to say at the moment...
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Re: Chapter 3

Postby magpie » 20 Apr 2005, 17:28

This chapter struck me as rather "us against the world" and left me with a bit of confusion. Philosophy makes a distinction between her true disciples whom the world always persecutes and the wannabees who, by draping themselves in stolen fragments of her garment, incur the same fate. That seems good poetic justice. Now here is my confusion.

First, what makes someone her true disciple? She pours open scorn upon the Epicureans and the Stoics among others. However she includes among those whom she claims as her own Seneca who was himself a Stoic. What am I missing here?

Second, and this may be a function of the translation which I am using (Richard Green), in speaking of the battle between her true disciples and the wicked, at one point Philosophy asserts:

And if they sometimes attack us with extraordinary force, our leader withdraws her followers into a fortress, leaving our enemies to waste their energies on worthless spoils.


Who would be this leader whom Philosophy mentions? The context makes it clear that Philosphy is speaking at this point and not Boethius. Did he just get distracted in his use of interlocutors, or is there some other "her" involved here? Anybody have any thoughts on this?
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Re: Chapter 3

Postby Guest » 20 Apr 2005, 18:59

magpie wrote:First, what makes someone her true disciple? She pours open scorn upon the Epicureans and the Stoics among others. However she includes among those whom she claims as her own Seneca who was himself a Stoic. What am I missing here?

Second,...Who would be this leader whom Philosophy mentions? The context makes it clear that Philosphy is speaking at this point and not Boethius. Did he just get distracted in his use of interlocutors, or is there some other "her" involved here? Anybody have any thoughts on this?

magpie,
As for the second q., when I read that I thought she was talking about herself but Walsh has a footnote to this that reads:
...this cannot be Philosophy herself, for she is speaking; it must be Sapientia ('Wisdom').

Why must it be? I don't know but Walsh seems so sure...

As for the first, my half-baked "Socratic" notions made it so I didn't have any trouble with that! I guess I assumed that the true philosophers are those seeking the good, beautiful, and true for its own sake and maintain a healthy ignorance, that is, "I know that I do not know." I've always assumed that various "schools" would often use Philosophy to serve their own ends. As far as the inclusion of Seneca, perhaps this spoke to a particular situation? Again, from the footnotes:
Walsh wrote:Seneca was forced to commit suicide by the emporer Nero in AD 65, and the same emporer made Soranus Barea a victim in the following year.

That is, perhaps she's just relating to Boethius the similar fate of a "philospher" with whom he was familiar?
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Re: Chapter 3

Postby magpie » 20 Apr 2005, 20:19

Walsh sort of makes sense in assuming that Philosophy was speaking about Wisdom, but the problem is that she doesn't say so. I guess Boethius never dreamed that someday his readers would need footnotes.

As for the first item, I never intended to suggest that your comments were in any way "half-baked." I was referring to the dichotomy which Philosophy herself is making between those "disciples" whom she includes among the "we" and the other "inept schools." Perhaps I am getting impatient, but I do wish that she would tell me how to distinguish between them. Just as a side thought, would she accept among her "true" disciples someone who was not persecuted, or is that part of the definition?

Maybe these questions will be answered in the next chapter. Like the cat who ate the cheese and sat by the mousehole, I wait with baited breath.
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Re: Chapter 3

Postby Guest » 11 May 2005, 15:05

Okay, now that I've accomplished two things (1, read the whole book--sorry if that's cheating; 2, figured out what section we're actually on) I'm ready to rejoin the discussion. I'm not giving up on this book study yet!

Boethius wrote:
...our chief aim is to displease the wicked.
What do you think of that line? Reminds me of Socrates, the "gadfly." And Kierkegaard, the "Christian-gadfly." From close to our own day, Martin Luther King. I liked this chapter more than the first two and yet I don't have anything more to say at the moment...

rudi, this is foreshadowing. She answers this question in Book 4, where she defines what it means to be wicked and the implications. I won't say anymore here.

magpie wrote:First, what makes someone her true disciple? She pours open scorn upon the Epicureans and the Stoics among others. However she includes among those whom she claims as her own Seneca who was himself a Stoic. What am I missing here?


I see the answer lies here:

The sole cause of their tragic sufferings was their obvious and complete contempt of the pursuits of immoral men which my teaching had instilled in them.


I read this as, the chief aim of the aid of Philosophy is to be given enough light whereby one can see how to live a moral life. The righteous person is the disciple of Philosophy, whether he be King David, Socrates, or Seneca.

Who would be this leader whom Philosophy mentions?

I think it is God, who directs Fate.

What I find significant in this section is that Philosophy seems to be making two points:

1. She cannot be used or piecemealed; she has to be accepted as a whole; as a lifestyle, and not a slogan, and that for those who do, they will recognize false philosophy.
2. The real value of Philosophy lies in the intangible--something that the wicked will pursue but never achieve, and something that cannot be taken away from the righteous. "Our citacel cannot fall to the assaults of folly."
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