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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Edited by Siobhan Nash-Marshall

Volume 78, Issue 2, Spring 2004
Boethius

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1. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 78 > Issue: 2
Siobhan Nash-Marshall Introduction
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2. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 78 > Issue: 2
Claudio Micaelli Boethian Reflections on God: Between Logic and Metaphysics
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This paper systematically reconstructs Boethius’s reflections on God, attempting to find the common element to which all of the variations in these reflections can be retraced. This common element is constituted by the continuous tension between kataphatic and apophatic theology. Boethius apparently both kataphatically defines God in his logical works, and maintains that God can only be defined apophatically in his theological works. This tension can, at times, cause some incoherence as one moves from one level of discourse to another: that is, from the logico-linguistic to the metaphysical-ontological level of discourse. Boethius’s thought manifests this incoherence. This incoherence is in part common to Neoplatonic thought and its sources, but would also seem to be dictated by the nature of the very operation of reflecting upon God.
3. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 78 > Issue: 2
Joseph W. Koterski Boethius and the Theological Origins of the Concept of Person
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Boethius’s famous definition of “person” as naturae rationabilis individua substantia (an individual substance of a rational nature) is frequently cited without reference to the specific theological purpose of his formulation (an attempt to provide some clarification about the mysteries of Christ and the Trinity). This article elucidates some of the theological issues that required philosophical progress on the nature of “personhood.” It also considers some of the residual difficulties with the application of this definition to divine persons that have been raised by subsequent theologians such as Thomas Aquinas who are otherwise sympathetic to Boethius’s definition of person when applied to human beings.
4. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 78 > Issue: 2
Siobhan Nash-Marshall God, Simplicity, and the Consolatio Philosophiae
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One of the primary concerns of the Consolatio is to draw out many of the paradoxical conclusions concerning the relation between creation and God that stem from the premises of classical creationist metaphysics, and attempt to solve them. Once one accepts that God does exist, is omnipotent, omniscient, and simple, it becomes viciously difficult to explain: (1) how anything contrary to God’s will—evil—can exist; (2) how any cause can act independently of God’s will—human freedom; and (3) how “independent causes” can relate to God through their own agency—human prayer. This naturally begs the question: why should we accept the premises of classicalcreationist metaphysics? This paper addresses this question by analyzing and defending two of the central premises of Boethius’s version of classical creationist metaphysics as they are addressed in Consolatio III,10: (a) that God exists, and (b) that God is simple.
5. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 78 > Issue: 2
Jonathan Evans Boethius on Modality and Future Contingents
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In The Consolation of Philosophy Boethius addresses two main problems posed by the problem of future contingents that shed important light on his conception of necessity and possibility: (1) a logical problem that alleges that if propositions about the future are true now then they are necessarily true, and (2) a theological problem that centers on a supposed incompatibility between divine foreknowledge and a contingent future. In contrast to established readings of the Consolation, I argue that a proper understanding of Book V requires understanding the modal concepts employed there in atemporal terms. This interpretation requires revising our traditional understanding of the two problems present in the Consolation text, particularly in seeing how timeless knowledge or truth could be conceived as a threat to human freedom. It also stresses the importance of a strategy used by Boethius to disambiguate the scope of modal operators used in his opponent’s arguments and how that strategy unifies his discussion in Book V.
6. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 78 > Issue: 2
M. V. Dougherty The Problem of Humana Natura in the Consolatio Philosophiae of Boethius
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In Boethius’s Consolatio Philosophiae one finds a rather unusual argument contending that human beings can lose their natures as the result of immoral or virtuous activity. A number of texts in the work argue that the polarities of beast and god serve as options for those who lead highly immoral or highly virtuous lives. This argument is examined in detail in light of its philosophical ancestry. I argue that those who think the Boethian doctrine is Platonic in origin tend to read the texts about the loss of human nature as metaphorical. I then suggest that if one places the argument in an Aristotelian context one is able to see it as a metaphysical argument, and moreparticularly, as part of Boethian psychology. This paper thus provides a new context for approaching Boethius’s contention that human beings can lose their natures.
7. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 78 > Issue: 2
John R. Fortin The Nature of Consolation in The Consolation of Philosophy
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Does The Consolation of Philosophy console? Is Philosophy able to bring the prisoner not simply to an acceptance of and reconciliation with his situation, but further to move him beyond this to ultimate peace through philosophical activity? The Consolation does offer some consolation but only ironically and not in the way intended by the character Philosophy. Philosophy is attempting to bring the prisoner to a philosophical experience in which he will contemplate and enjoy eternal truths, and thereby be consoled. Nevertheless the prisoner will in the end reject this project which takes him away from what he perceives to be his life’s work. Philosophy’s failure to console the prisoner is disconsoling in part to herself because the prisoner ultimately rejects her invitation to become a martyr for her sake. It is disconsoling in part to the prisoner who seeks a consolation that would support his firmly held desire to remain engaged in public life.
8. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 78 > Issue: 2
Paul J. LaChance Boethius on Human Freedom
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It is commonly asserted that Boethius defined free will as the judgment of the will or a rational choice. Accordingly, sin or evil is identified with ignorance or vice of the intellect, which prevents or distorts rational deliberation. However, Boethius adopted a more complex understanding of the self-motion of the soul and, consequently, articulated a more nuanced account of sin and the healing effects of Providence. Boethius treated human freedom as a complex including a natural motion, identified as the desire for happiness, the determination of reason following the judgment of deliberation, and the sovereignty of the will over its own acts and, to some extent,over other acts of the soul. Sin, therefore, involves mistaken ideas about reality but also deformations in the affective orientation of the will to the world and in the exercise of the will’s control over the soul.
9. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 78 > Issue: 2
John Marenbon Boethius and the Problem of Paganism
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“Problem of paganism” is my name for the set of questions raised for medieval thinkers and writers, and discussed by some of them (Abelard, Dante, and Langland are eminent examples), by the fact that many people—especially philosophers—from antiquity were, they believed, monotheists, wise and virtuous and yet pagans. In this paper, I argue that Boethius, though a Christian, was himself too much part of the world of classical antiquity to pose the problem of paganism, but that his Consolation of Philosophy was an essential element in the way medieval writers saw and resolved this problem. In particular, because it was a text by an author known to be Christian which discusses philosophy without any explicitly Christian references, it opened up the way to treating texts by ancient pagan philosophers as containing hidden Christian doctrine.
books received
10. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 78 > Issue: 2
Books Received
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