Preserver of Philosophy


Contemporary of Cassiodorus.
Translated and preserved the works of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero

Ciceronis Topica (6 Books):
Book I. distinctions and assertions important to Boethius’s overall philosophy, such as his view of the role of philosophy to “establish our judgment concerning the governing of life”, and definitions of logic from Plato, Aristotle and Cicero. He breaks logic into three parts, that which defines, that which devides, and that which deduces. He asserts there to be three types of arguments, those of necessity, of ready believability, and sophistry. He follows Aristotle in defining one sort of Topic as the maximal proposition; these are propositions which are somehow shown to be universal or readily believable. The other sort of Topic, the differentiae, are “Topics that contain and include the maximal propositions”; means of categorizing the Topics which Boethius credits to Cicero.
Book II. two kinds of topics, those from related things and those from extrinsic topics.
Book III. the relationship between things studied through Topics, Topics themselves, and the nature of definition.
Book IV analyzes partition, designation and relationships between things (such as pairing, numbering, genus and species, etc).
Book V discussing Stoic logic and Aristotelian causation.
Book VI relates the nature of the Topic to causes.

Topicis Differentiis (4 books);
Book I discusses the nature of rhetorical and dialectical Topics together, Boethius’s overall purpose being “to show what the Topics are, what their differentiae are, and which are suited for what syllogisms”. He distinguishes between argument (that which constitutes belief) and argumentation (that which demonstrates belief). Propositions are divided into three parts, those that are universal, those that are particular, and those that are somewhere in between. These distinctions, and others, are applicable to both types of Topical argument, rhetorical and dialectical.
Books II and III are primarily focused on Topics of dialectic (syllogisms)
Book IV concentrates on the unit of the rhetorical Topic, the enthymeme.

“The Boethian Wheel” is a model for Boethius’ belief that history is a wheel,45 that Boethius uses frequently in the Consolation; it remained very popular throughout the Middle Ages, and is still often seen today. As the wheel turns those that have power and wealth will turn to dust; men may rise from poverty and hunger to greatness, while those who are great may fall with the turn of the wheel. It was represented in the Middle Ages in many relics of art depicting the rise and fall of man. Descriptions of “The Boethian Wheel” can be found in the literature of the Middle Ages from the Romance of the Rose to Chaucer.[


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