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Book 1, Chapter 4

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

Book 1, Chapter 4

Postby magpie » 19 May 2005, 16:42

Since Dr. Zeus tells us that rudif has needed to drop out of this discussion, I have offered to start it back up again if no one else objects. (I am retired and have the free time.) He said to go ahead, so here goes.

In my last post for Chapter 3, I described myself as a cat waiting at a mousehole. Well in this chapter I have been well rewarded. I was wondering how Philosophy, having condemned the Stoics, could claim Seneca as her disciple. Now in Poem 4 she states,
He who hopes for nothing and fears nothing can disarm the fury of these impotent men; but he who is burdened by fears and desires is not master of himself.

This is my understanding of the classical (I use this word intentionally) doctrine of Stoicism. It would seem that the reference to Seneca was no aberration.

What do the rest of you think? Do you think that Boethius is aligned with the Stoics after all?

If no one objects to my timid usurpation of leadership, in my next post I will continue with my musings on Prose 4.
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Re: Book 1, Chapter 4

Postby magpie » 20 May 2005, 16:23

Since no one has risen up in rebellion, I will continue with my thoughts on Prose 4 as I promised yesterday.

With this section, the previously abstract discussion becomes intensely human. Boethius no longer seems a comfortable academic secure in his ivory tower using the literary conceit of the imprisoned soul. He is a man in a concrete, miserable dungeon, a man condemned to death! And he is not merely a good man falsely accused, but rather a man falsely accused because he is good. That fact made a great impression on me.

Moreover, Boethius has been condemned by the very people (ie the Senate) whom he had sought to serve and protect. I am reminded of Robert Bolt's play, A Man For All Seasons, in which Sir Thomas More, having shown great compassion and concern for the imperiled soul of Richard Rich, is sent to the scaffold on Rich's perjured testimony. This is the endlessly repeated story of so many ordinary folk, destroyed by those who owe them the most gratitude. It is the story of countless pastors who sacrifice themselves for their congregations, only to be ousted for some petty perceived inadequacy. Boethius indeed speaks for generations of the unjustly persecuted when, after naming names, he concludes
It seems to me that I can see wicked men everywhere celebrating my fall with great pleasure, and all the criminally depraved concocting new false charges. I see good men terrorized into heplessness by my danger, and evil man encouraged to risk any crime with impunity and able to get away with it by bribery. The innocent are deprived not only of their safety, but even of any defense.


This is strong stuff, and I see lots of parallels to our world today. OK friends, the ball is in your court.
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Re: Book 1, Chapter 4

Postby Guest » 20 May 2005, 20:14

Posting a message holder here... though I've read it, I'm in between trips out & can't post at the moment...will be back on Saturday with thoughts...

Thanks magpie for stepping in here! It's much appreciated so the discussion can continue!!!

:)
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Re: Book 1, Chapter 4

Postby Air of Winter » 19 Jul 2005, 02:20

magpie wrote:This is my understanding of the classical (I use this word intentionally) doctrine of Stoicism. It would seem that the reference to Seneca was no aberration.

What do the rest of you think? Do you think that Boethius is aligned with the Stoics after all?.


My understanding of the Stoics and the Epicureans is very slight; I've heard their ideas briefly summarized, but I haven't read any of them. All I can say is that it sounds as if he might be, and I wish he'd explained just what he objected to about Stoicism and Epicureanism.
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Re: Book 1, Chapter 4

Postby magpie » 20 Jul 2005, 18:24

Air of Winter wrote:
magpie wrote:This is my understanding of the classical (I use this word intentionally) doctrine of Stoicism. It would seem that the reference to Seneca was no aberration.

What do the rest of you think? Do you think that Boethius is aligned with the Stoics after all?.


My understanding of the Stoics and the Epicureans is very slight; I've heard their ideas briefly summarized, but I haven't read any of them. All I can say is that it sounds as if he might be, and I wish he'd explained just what he objected to about Stoicism and Epicureanism.


You've hit the nail right on the head! One of the biggest problems which I have been having with this work is that Boethius seems to assume that we know what he is talking about. I suppose that being imprisoned under threat of death he doesn't bother to exlain his objections since he never imagined that anyone in 2005 would be reading his work. In fact, many Christians in his day expected the world to end at the millenium, the first one! But aren't these puzzles what make him so fascinating?
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Re: Book 1, Chapter 4

Postby Air of Winter » 24 Jul 2005, 03:48

Well, I suppose that, up until the last couple of centuries, most educated Europeans likely would know what he was talking about. The old liberal arts education probably included exposure to the Stoics and the Epicureans.

My education was technical. I may not be all that rude a mechanical, but I'm still a mechanical. What I know of this stuff I learned in my spare time.

Later:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicureanism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logos

The challenge to the Epicureans is obvious, but I'm increasingly puzzled because the more I read about the Stoics the more he sounds like one. Is there something about the Stoic use of the Logos that really doesn't fit Christian theology? Does it suggest pantheism or something? I don't have enough background in this to be sure of what these brief descriptions imply.
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Re: Book 1, Chapter 4

Postby magpie » 26 Jul 2005, 02:05

Air of Winter wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicureanism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logos

The challenge to the Epicureans is obvious, but I'm increasingly puzzled because the more I read about the Stoics the more he sounds like one. Is there something about the Stoic use of the Logos that really doesn't fit Christian theology? Does it suggest pantheism or something? I don't have enough background in this to be sure of what these brief descriptions imply.


These are great links, expecially the first two which I have saved. I agree that Boethius is far from the Epicureans, and likewise continue to be puzzled by his comments about the Stoics. I need to give the Logos angle some more thought. Maybe as we slog on the light will dawn. We wouldn't want this too easy, would we. That would be no fun. :)
"Love is the will to extend one's self in order to nurture one's own or another's spiritual growth."
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Re: Book 1, Chapter 4

Postby Zan » 02 Aug 2005, 06:01

Thus far, this is my favorite chapter. My knowledge in the area of Stoics and so forth is a bit amatuer, but I am hoping to look into that some more when I get the time.

For now though, I am going to take The Medieval Chick approach, and keep this post as a "holder". Been trying to reach the second book, when I do, I will reread the first and probably will have more to add.
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