Stumbling After Pleasure Like a Drunk Looking for Home

Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy III. 38-55

“Now all good things dependent upon the body may be understood as we have said. Strength and size seem to confer prominence; beauty and speed bring fame; health brings pleasure. It is clear that happiness alone is sought through all of these qualities. For whatever any man seeks foremost is the very thing he believes is the greatest good. But we have then defined the greatest good as happiness, which is why each man judges the state of happiness to be the very thing he desires beyond all else.

Therfore, you have laid bare before your eyes the basic shape of human happiness: wealth, honor, power, glory and pleasure. When Epicurus examined these things, he decied that his highest good was pleasure because all others seemed to bring enjoyment to the mind. But I return to human desires: for human minds even when the memory is hazy still seeks its own good but, just like a drunk, does not know which path will lead home. Certainly how can those who struggle not to lack anything seem to do wrong?”

Iam vero corporis bona promptum est ut ad superiora referantur. Robur enim magnitudoque videtur praestare valentiam, pulchritudo atque velocitas celebritatem, salubritas voluptatem; quibus omnibus solam beatitudinem desiderari liquet. Nam quod quisque prae ceteris petit, id summum esse iudicat bonum. Sed summum bonum beatitudinem esse definivimus; quare beatum esse iudicat statum quem prae ceteris quisque desiderat.

Habes igitur ante oculos propositam fere formam felicitatis humanae—opes, honores, potentiam, gloriam, voluptates. Quae quidem sola considerans Epicurus consequenter sibi summum bonum voluptatem esse constituit, quod cetera omnia iucunditatem animo videantur afferre. Sed ad hominum studia revertor, quorum animus etsi caligante memoria tamen bonum suum repetit, sed velut ebrius domum quo tramite revertatur ignorat. Num enim videntur errare hi qui nihilo indigere nituntur?

 

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