The Consolation of Philosophy

by Boethius

Start Free Trial

Explain the connection between unity and goodness in the The Consolation of Philosophy.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, Philosophy personified states that the things people desire are not truly and perfectly good if they are separate. They cannot impart absolute goodness.

Things are far from being good while they are different, but become good as soon as they are one. (book 3)

She further declares that unity and goodness are the same (book 3). This is actually an idea that Plato and Plotinus have developed. Everything that exists abides as long as it continues to be one. As soon as this unity broken, the thing that exists is going to perish.

With animals, the unity of soul and body is what makes them living beings. When, at the separation of these constituent parts, this unity is broken, the living being ceases to exist. Even with the body itself, when the unity of its parts is destroyed, it stops being what it is.

Every living being strives to sustain and preserve itself, avoiding death and destruction. Nature endows every being with what is necessary for its preservation. The same holds true for inanimate beings, because they seek what is naturally proper to them. Even “things solid like stones resist disintegration by the close adhesion of their parts" (book 3). And so “the love of life cometh not of conscious will, but from the principles of nature" (book 3).

Therefore, all things that exist naturally seek continuance of being and avoidance of death. That which seeks to exist desires to be one. All desire unity. And this unity is goodness, as Philosophy personified has stated earlier.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial