Boethius of Dacia (not the same Boethius we studied last week, this is a 13th century Danish philosopher of the same name) argued that, in order to be good, the soul needs to exercise all its capacities. Since Aristotle thought that the human soul has three overall capacities, nutrition, perception and reason, all three must be involved. But philosophers, Boethius argued, are well placed to be good. Why? Because (1) philosophers understand why it is important to exercise their reason and achieve a balance in one’s soul, (2) because those who understand the satisfaction of intellectual pursuits are inclined to value them, and value them above lower pleasures, and finally (3) because one can’t go too far wrong when all one is doing is thinking.
Boethius of Dacia is emphasizing the importance of getting your soul right. What we saw in Aquinas was the view that getting your soul right can’t be the only goal of the good life. That’s because otherwise, your soul would be (in some way) be it’s own goal. Rather, we want to get our souls right because so doing enables an eternity with God, who satisfies all desires. Only something that satisfies all desires, Aquinas points out, can be the ultimate goal.
We ended up talking in class a bit about the puzzling New Testament passage where Jesus talks about marriage. If you’re married to multiple people on earth, someone asks, whom are you married to in heaven? Jesus’ puzzling answer is that no one is married in heaven. Now that’s an interesting point because it helps us understand what Aquinas means. Aquinas would say that if you needed to be married in heaven - if you missed people - then there would be unsatisfied desires in you. But God is an object that satisfies all desires. So it must be the case that no one in heaven will feel unsatisfied for not being married.