God, the Good, and Happiness

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:

  1. An imperfect felicity which comes from fragile goods* exists. [premise]
  2. If an imperfect thing of a given genus exists, then there must exist something perfect in it too. [premise]
  3. There exists perfect felicity.
  4. If is more perfect than bis prior to b. [premise]
  5. The principal of all things is prior to everything else. [unstated premise]
  6. 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]
  7. If something is more perfect than God, it is prior to God. [instantiation of 4]
  8. If something is prior to God, he is not principal of all things. [instantiation of 5]
  9. If the perfect good is not in God, he is not principal of all things. [unstated: 6, 7, 8]
  10. God is the principal of all things, because otherwise there would be an infinite regress. [premise, based on an unstated argument]
  11. The perfect good is in God
  12. Everything that is sought is sought for the sake of the good. [premise established by the argument so far]
  13. Everything other than happiness is sought for the sake of happiness. [premised]
  14. Happiness and the good are identical

* fragile goods are sufficiency, power, respect, fame, and joy

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