On seductive qualities of philosophy

A simple mental trick to help you avoid the initial trap of lady philosophy

Photo by Jon Ly on Unsplash

Boethius in his Consolation of Philosophy compares philosophy to a beautiful lady. I’d like to think that this is true.

She was of awe-inspiring appearance, her eyes burning and keen beyond the usual power of men. She was so full of years that I could hardly think of her as of my own generation, and yet she possessed a vivid colour and undiminished vigour. It was difficult to be sure of her height, for sometimes she was of average human size, while at other times she seemed to touch the very sky with the top of her head, and when she lifted herself even higher, she pierced it and was lost to human sight. Her clothes were made of imperishable material, of the finest thread woven with the most delicate skill. (Later she told me that she had made them with her own hands.) (…) Her dress had been torn by the hands of marauders who had each carried off such pieces as he could get. There were some books in her right hand, and in her left hand she held a sceptre.

- The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius

My experience of her is slightly different. The lady at the first sight is a very old woman, indeed, well passed the fertility age. She seems frail and ugly and all we want is get away from her. But if you allow yourself to get closer and explore who she is, you’ll be surprised. This lady, as the time passes and you gaze at her more, becomes younger and younger. After some time with true devotion to her, she’ll be the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen. Fertile and ready to beget you the most amazing of children. Among her priceless children are wisdom, justice, courage, temperance, patience and goodness. And there are more. So don’t be deluded by your initial perceptions of her.

Previously, I said that no one can be brought to philosophy and that all we can do is set good example. So impulses for nagging to bring people to philosophy, no matter how good our intentions may be, are to be avoided. I believe that we can help people discover and live philosophy by exposing her beauty. Thus by seducing people into her arms. But how? By being a good human being and by explaining her beautiful qualities when explicitly asked.

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