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In The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius makes a distinction between appropriate and inappropriate desire. Examples of the latter are related to the things of this world—money, fame, power, pleasure. In themselves, these things are worthless. They are mere shadows of true happiness and their pursuit often leads to misery. So as Boethius rots away in a prison cell awaiting his impeding execution, Lady Philosophy points out to him that he's unhappy, not because he's had all his worldly goods taken from him, but because of the importance that he wrongly attached to those things.

Nevertheless, Lady Philosophy agrees with Boethius that happiness is our proper end. But true happiness can only be achieved by becoming like the idea of man that exists in God's mind. This, then, should be our only appropriate desire: to strive with all our might to realize our God-given nature, to make manifest the human ideal that originated in the divine mind.

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