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The Four Cardinal Virtues Paperback – March 31, 1966
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Top Customer Reviews
If you study this book, The Four Cardinal Virtues (fortitude, temperance, justice, and prudence), along with his other book, Faith, Hope, Love (the three theological virtues), you will have a wonderful primer on ethics.
One word of warning. Philosophy is not light reading. I know, it was one of my majors. Philosophy written in German and translated into English produces a book not for the timid. If you are willing to take on the challenge, more power to you. It is worth the effort, but you should know what you are getting into before you put down your money. This is a book for those who want to think and wrestle with ethics. It is not for everyone.
The book delves into ethics, civics, justice, philosophy, psychology, and I think it is a healthy tool for understanding classical literature: Shakespeare, for example, and the inner psychology of his characters as this moral plain, that Pieper describes, is so much closer to his than most of what we hear in our modernity.
Pieper, here, spends time defining what the classic moral compass is, taken primarily from the last officially sanctioned church doctor St. Thomas Aquinas. Pieper brings Aquinas and other philosophers' language up to date, for the ears of the modern mind. Christianityfs definition has too much to do with how it's enemies, or alterior users, wish to define it and Pieper spends a short time correcting this in places.
If you liked this you might like Pieper's Virtues of the Human Heart which is a bit less discriptive but more powerful.
Pieper also makes the point that the most important stuggle is the internal struggle for meaning and direction in any organization or person.
Pieper has shown me something I would simply never have come to know myself, namely that prudence (as classically understood, not the cunning of the tactician, as understood in modern times) is the pre-eminent virtue. But, not only that, he shows clearly the true nature of the virtues and distinguishes them from the counterfeit virtues which society labels by the same name. Pieper is particularly good at showing how counterfeits of these virtues are in fact manichaeistic in nature, often showing disdain of the body. Thus, he cites St Thomas as saying that in paradise the pleasure which man derived from the sexual act would have been greater rather than impaired by an over-spiritualism. He is also excellent on anger. The tendency towards an overly spiritualist attitude with disdain for the body has resurfaced in recent years (see, for example, the talks of Anthony de Mello SJ where he indicates that Christ's manifestation of the natual passions, such as anger, is indeed a short coming!).Read more ›
For example, we learn from Pieper some surprising things about that most prosaic of virtues - prudence. Prudence, according to Pieper, is nothing more, and nothing less, than a person's acceptance of reality. This virtue requires that a person cultivate openness toward truth, an awareness of truth when it is presented to him, and a willingness to submit to truth. This last, then, requires the cultivation of "docilitas" - the ability to take advice - and a willing to be silent so as to allow reality to intrude into the person's mind.
Prudence is the "first virtue." Without prudence, no one can be just or temperate or persevering because these virtues must conform to reason, which, in turn, requires a conformity with reality. "The good of man consists in being in accord with reason." (p. 24.) Pieper explains why a narcissist can never truly be virtuous:
"Whoever looks only at himself and therefore does not permit the truth of real things to have its way can be neither just nor brave nor temperate - but above all he cannot be just. For the foremost requirement for the realization of justice is that man turns his eyes away from himself." (p. 21 - 22.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is one of the best I've ever owned, truly indispensable for the development of a philosophical mind and training of the heart to cleave to God.Published 7 months ago by Donovan Worland
A must for any student of virtues and values in education and in family education. Clarify misconceptions and is amazing clear.Published 7 months ago by rvcclub
Some of it requires an effort to follow, compounded by the inherent difficulties in rendering a good translation, but worthwhile for anyone interested in understanding human... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Diane Bettesworth
It is what I expected and it settles any confusion you may have I endorse this book hartly specially if you are involved in serious studying and change.Published 15 months ago by miriam r.
A huge fan of Josef Pieper, so I was glad to pick this book up. Pieper does a great job covering the Cardinal Virtues.Published on March 30, 2014 by JOSEPH DUCHENE
This is a fine book. It is available in the public sphere and can be found using Google in all the electronic formats at archive dot org. Read morePublished on December 26, 2013 by Andy K