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Abuse of Language Abuse of Power Paperback – April 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 54 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press; First American Edition edition (April 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089870362X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898703627
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 6.5 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English
Original Language: German

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Carl E. Olson on August 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
In this slender, but powerful work, the great (and often overlooked) Thomistic scholar Josef Pieper sends out a call to arms against "every partisan simplification, every ideological agitation, every blind emotionality . . . [and] well-turned yet empty slogans . . ." He pulls no punches in taking on those modern (and ancient) sophists who rape and pillage language in order to obtain political power and cultural currency. He also takes on modern advertising, noting that we live in an age and culture where "what is decisive is not what you say, but how you say it." In an era of politically-correct pap, vapid mantras and bumper-sticker philosophy, this book sends a clear, clean note of truth into the murky darkness of a deafened and confused populace.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By James E. Egolf VINE VOICE on April 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)once wrote, "It is better to live uncomfortably with the truth than contentedly with lies." Joseph Pieper would agree except, Joseph Pieper would argue that living with truth and honesty can make men live comfortably. Jospeh Pieper's small book titled ABUSE OF LANGUAGE:ABUSE OF POWER is a serious book which makes this very clear to readers.

Pieper begins this book with a serious treatment of Plato's (427-347 BC)serious dispute with the Ancient Athenian sophists who taught men to use clever words and communication to deceive men with total disregard for truth. Plato argued that the sophists were very dangerous men because of their intellectual prowess and supposed sophistication. The unleaned could be easily misled and become dangerous because of the respect given to the sophists which they did not deserve. Readers may ask what is the relevance of the dispute between Plato and the sophists to modern Western "Civilization." One answer may be studied in the Bolshevik (Communist)Revolution in Russia in 1917. Those who engineered this revolution were members of a declasse intelligensia who knew the use and abuse of language.

Pieper then makes a solid point that any communication (language) between an honest man and a liar is useless since the liar has nothing to offer leading to knowledge. Pieper states in effect that the honest man may just as well be talling to thin air, or hot air. The liar is trying to manipulate and gain power over the honest man which is destructive to the honest man if he unaware.

Pieper has an interesting explanation of the destruciveness of flattery. The flatterer is trying to intellectually disarm those whom he flatters to gain advantage. A knowledgeable man who is honest is immune to such flattery.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Neri on April 13, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We drive down the freeway of life and are bombarded with little slogans and attempts to convince and smartly convert us to a way of thinking with marketing bill boards, or through the mail, on TV, in the paper - subtle attempts to steal our minds by over-loading them with a coorporate marketing agenda and sloganism. A bit abusive language on my part.

The question is worth pondering, and the questions raised in this book are of the sort that any educated man should ponder, even if there is no solution, it makes great "smartening-up" not "dumbing down" (sloganism) of the curriculum. Peiper persuasively argues that communication is not happening as much as might be thought, because communication must be void of ulterior motives. And his arguement that we must be able to express our view of the "truth of things" in freedom; why many do not is due to what he calls "the lingo of the revolution".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard T. on August 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The abuse of language in the lame-stream media is so obvious today, you'd wonder why our society hasn't caught on. Our schools have become nothing but propaganda mills, teaching kids that good citizens just take what ever is told to them is fine, you don't have to think for yourself, just do what we tell you.

This book is an excellent review for people who think for themselves, but need a well documented reinforcement or refresher course.

Recommend to everyone who cares about America.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Kovacs on August 10, 2010
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Pieper offers a brilliant summary of the importance of language, and cultivating the understanding that at its core language is meant to convey truth. He reaches back to the time of Plato and Socrates and their struggles with the Sophists, analyzing the role of language in honest and meaningful communication aimed at uncovering the truth, to show the relevance of their struggle even in this day and age.

Pieper argues that the abuse of language invariably leads to abuse of power, and unless language is used for communication in search of truth, it breaks down as a legitimate means of communication and devolves into a means of control. A concept that Orwell also illuminated in many of his works, most famously in his essay "Politics and the English Language" (see also his concept of newspeak).

I very highly recommend Pieper's concise and well written treatise as a first step in reclaiming language from the demagogues and present day sophists, if for no other reason than to make the first necessary steps in restoring language to once more become the trusted means of communication it was intended to be.
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