John Marenbon, a lecturer in the History of Philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge and author of Boethius, summarizes Lady Philosophy’s intricate argument in Book III.10 of The Consolation of Philosophy:
- An imperfect felicity which comes from fragile goods* exists. [premise]
- If an imperfect thing of a given genus exists, then there must exist something perfect in it too. [premise]
- There exists perfect felicity.
- If a is more perfect than b, a is prior to b. [premise]
- The principal of all things is prior to everything else. [unstated premise]
- If the perfect good is not in God, something else possesses prefect good and is therefore more perfect than God. [premise, deriving from the previous argument that the perfect good exists]
- If something is more perfect than God, it is prior to God. [instantiation of 4]
- If something is prior to God, he is not principal of all things. [instantiation of 5]
- If the perfect good is not in God, he is not principal of all things. [unstated: 6, 7, 8]
- God is the principal of all things, because otherwise there would be an infinite regress. [premise, based on an unstated argument]
- The perfect good is in God.
- Everything that is sought is sought for the sake of the good. [premise established by the argument so far]
- Everything other than happiness is sought for the sake of happiness. [premised]
- Happiness and the good are identical.
* fragile goods are sufficiency, power, respect, fame, and joy