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Boethius’ Account of and Solution to The Problem of Evil

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Boethius, a Christian and a Roman consul, wrote The Consolation of Philosophy while in prison under the emperor Theodric. In the book, he attempted to reconcile the gravity of his accusation and execution with the existence of a just God. Boethius’s approach to the problem of evil echoes the Augustinian beliefs of the nonexistence of evil in a just world. He acknowledges the benevolence of God and the presence of providence and fate as two essential factors that control human and natural actions. In addition, Boethius struggles to comprehend the evil conduct of those in power in persecuting the innocent and virtuous. He believes that God’s wisdom controls all things to achieve goodness, although human understanding is limited. The primary concern in Boethius’s classical philosophy stems from the fact that wicked people in Rome’s political arena prospered while individuals like him suffered despite their righteous nature. However, because human understanding is limited, one can comprehend this tenet by analyzing the situation from God’s perspective. While Boethius believes that evil does not exist in a world where God’s benevolence rules, human beings make choices based on the free will accorded to them. 

Boethius needed to make sense of the world in which he existed because wickedness seemed to thrive while riotousness received no reward. God exists in a timeless state, while human beings are constrained by time. In addition, human beings can make decisions and choices based on the situation and without God’s control over them. This implies that God’s eternal presence does not necessarily dictate human choices. This makes people utterly responsible for their actions regardless of the existence of an all-powerful God who controls all things. Notably, God’s providence allows human beings to practice free will, which makes them responsible for the choices they make. In essence, Boethius sidesteps the problem of evil by arguing about its nonexistence and the actual influence it makes on people. However, the pain and suffering that characterize the human nature dispute Boethius’s assertions. He follows a narrow focus when describing the problem of evil and the way it operates, which fails to reconcile his arguments with the real world exhaustively. Primarily, Boethius fails to understand why a good and loving God could allow evil to traverse the world. The question raises philosophical debates, especially when human beings are exposed to extreme conditions that lead to pain and suffering similar to what Boethius faced. In that case, the problem of evil shows a contrasting argument that exemplifies evil in an attempt to learn why wicked people hold power to persecute others. Boethius attempts to dispute the existence of evil by mentioning that evil is a weakness and nothing. It makes sense that an all-loving and good God could not create evil since it brings suffering to the children. His claim that evil does not exist stems from the philosophical perspective where evil is not a real thing, and God did not create evil. 

Boethius’s assertion about the weakness of evil reveals that the vice goes against the natural way of things. This means that naturally, people tend to look for happiness and goodness in life. Despite Boethius’s consideration of evil as nothing, it remains uncertain how this can happen, yet there are many observable acts such as rape, murder, and theft, among others. More so, the magnitude of pain and suffering instilled by these observations to humanity is significant to consider evil as an actual influence. However, Boethius maintains that God is the greatest, and despite this nature, he allows human beings to have free will without a direct influence on their actions. More so, Boethius believes that wicked people are weak since evil is weak, but this does not imply that God is evil. In this context, being weak means lack of strength since strength stands for good. Consequently, people can become evil in a world that is ruled by a perfect God because they are not perfect and are bound to make mistakes. 

The second principle that Boethius tackles relate to the consequences of both evil and good people. Boethius questions whether a benevolent God should reward the wicked because evil should be punished while good rewarded. The problem raises concerns because, in Rome, at the time, Boethius could see wicked people gaining power instead of being reprimanded. This issue is of significance in understanding Boethius’s perspective, where virtuous people should be rewarded to encourage them to continue pursuing good deeds. Philosophy holds that wicked can self-correct where an evil person experiences injustice and changes to become more benevolent. In this way, God is able to eliminate evil and remain good despite the presence of evil in the world. Boethius notes that he sees criminals wallowing in joy while continuing their false accusations. At the same time, the virtuous people face persecution and terror from the impunity of the wicked people and their deeds. This powerful observation shows that the presence of a benevolent God in the world should warrant punishment for the wicked people. However, this is not the case as the evil people continue to prosper at the expense of the virtuous individuals. This problem fails to account for the different ways through which evil is eliminated from the world. Philosophy contends that freedom to the wicked people is in itself a punishment. In that case, the fortunes of evil people and fate always find a way to correct themselves and encouraging them to become virtuous. In a way, the wickedness in the world has a natural course of correcting itself. Boethius claims that God has imprisoned him, which is a form of punishment that should be directed to the wicked people. 

To sum up, the problem of evil, as proposed by Boethius, questions the benevolence of God and the presence of evil in the world. The tenets of his philosophy indicate that people endure significant suffering, which is inflicted by wicked people. He claims that virtuous people should experience rewards from their good deeds while the evildoers experience punishment. However, this does not seem to happen in Boethius’s case because he takes the concept of evil at face value. The solutions proposed to this issue highlight that evil is self-correcting, and God is all-powerful and can only do good, which means that evil can happen despite the presence of God. Notably, evil is not a product of God, but people have free will to make various choices. This ability to make decisions plays a significant role in determining the action of an individual. Further, it assists to propel both good and evil in the world, mainly because people are weak and can make errors while God is perfect. 

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Boethius’ Account Of And Solution To The Problem Of Evil. (2021, October 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from
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