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Josef Pieper: An Anthology Paperback – March 1, 1989

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Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 241 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (March 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898702267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898702262
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Carl E. Olson on August 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
For those unfamiliar with the writings of the German Thomist Josef Pieper, this is the place to start. Pieper, like his contemporaries von Balthasar and Etienne Gilson, had a wide ranging intellect and an incredibly deep knowledge of philosophy and history. This is evidenced by the topics found among the essays in this volume: semiotics, sexuality, the nature of evil, the supernatual virtues, freedom and predestination, leisure, and true work. While not easy reading by any means, Pieper's writing is filled with the sort of pithy and sharp observations that are so often missing from modern philophical works. A must buy!
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Josef Pieper (who, I understand, influenced Joseph Ratzinger - indeed, the influence can be seen on Ratzinger's writings) writes with extraordinary clarity about the things that really matter in life.

On belief, he notes that "Belief means to participate in the knowledge of the knower" (page 12). How true this is, particularly for christians, whose belief depends critically on participating in the eye witness knowledge of the apostles (including Paul).

On the signification of love, he notes what it means is this "Its good that you exist; its good that you are in this world". And, this goes to the heart of what it means to be a Catholic - the world is good because it is the handiwork of God, who is love.

On Courage, fear and termperance, he notes (page 71), "the naturual tendency to seek pleasure is perfected in the virtue of temperance. And, so too, is the natural fear of obliteration perfected in the fear of the Lord".

On the fruit of purity, he noted (page 82); "but what does the unrestricted concept of purity stand for: it stands for the crystal clear, morning-fresh freedom from self-consciousness"

On the intelligibility of the universe, he notes that it is intelligible because: "things are created; it is so because the inner lucidity of all things flow from their original idea in the infinity radiant fulness of the Divine Mind". (page 99)

On contemplation, he notes (page 145) "If a person has been terribly thirsty for a long time and then finally drinks, feels the refreshment deep down inside and says: "what a glorious thing fresh, cold water is! - then whether he knows it or not, he may have taken one step towards that beholding of the beloved wherein contemplation consists."

Brilliant!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently reread Joseph Pieper's Anthology. http://www.amazon.com/Josef-Pieper-Anth ... 7&sr=1-8#_

In a remarkable essay entitled "The Defense of Freedom", p. 123, Pieper derives three propositions from Plato's opposition to the Sophists:

"Proposition One: "The good of man", and a meaningful human existence, consists, as far as possible, in seeing things as they are, and in living and acting in accordance with the truth thus apprehended. Proposition Two: Thus man's chief nourishment is truth. This does not apply only to the man of knowledge, the philosopher, the scientist. Anyone who wishes to live a truly human life must feed on truth. Society too lives on the public availability, the public manifestation of truth. The more accessible, the richer existence becomes. Proposition Three: The natural habitat of truth is human conversation.Truth is enacted in dialogue, in discussion, in discourse: in other words, in language and the word. Thus the order of existence, including societal existence, is essentially based on the order of language, and is shaped by whether or not language is "in order". Of course, the "order" of language does not primarily involve its formal perfection. (Thus, eager as one might be to concur with Karl Kraus' famous dictum, the order of language does not, I fear, depend on the proper placement of a comma.) Instead, what is meant by the order of language is the articulation of reality in as undistorted and uncurtailed a form as possible."

It is remarkable that in his essay Pieper is philosophically defending freedom; that freedom necessarily requires the apprehension of truth; that truth is enacted in language and the word; and that existence is essentially based on the word!

Basically, he contends that philosophically language, or the word, is the foundation of human existence.
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I was directed to this book by an essay of Fr James Schall. I had read Pieper's work on Sin and found it engaging and helpful. The Anthology puts his work together in a way that is essential reading for many, including poorly catechized Catholics born in the 1960's---which is likely pretty much all of us. Presented in a way that is accessible and clear, Pieper gives our generation Thomas in a manner that is both welcome and necessary. And for those of us raised in the Novus Order who just never really gave up hope that there was something more...here it is.
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