It’s fun, really, if one throws one’s self into it. Money has no value at all when hoarded, and it has no staying power when spent. Political and military power are illusions: they rely on chains of command that become weaker as one uses power more visibly. Fame is ultimately insignificant: it lasts but a heartbeat on the grand scale of history, and it spreads at most to the dry parts of a globe that is itself a speck in the larger universe.
We talked about Boethius’s arguments against the genuine goodness of earthly goods (summarized above) today, and when we had established his world-denying ethics, we turned in our memories to Plato’s Republic, which by contrast allows that money-makers are good for a city, that auxiliaries to the populace should wield military power in their service, and that those who die in battle should be famous post mortem. Such discussions led the students to realize that what Boethius talks about in all cases are earthly goods separated from their civic functions: as an individual, money and power and fame are worthless, but in a city they sustain life. Whether or not Boethius recognized this I could not say, but I would imagine he did.
I’m already starting to miss this group of students, knowing full well that we have only three-fifths of Boethius, a portfolio instruction day, a round of group conferences, and donut day to go. They’ve been a good group for the most part, and although I’m excited about teaching sophomore survey next semester (more on that in future posts), I’ll remember this Plato group fondly.
Alright, enough sentimentalism. I need to grade some papers, and that’s no time for sentiment.