A cosmopolitan hermit

A cosmopolitan hermit: modernity and tradition in the philosophy of Josef Pieper

Edited by Bernard N. Schumacher
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 312
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A cosmopolitan hermit
    Book Description:

    Composed of ten original essays written with the goal of exploring the thought of one of the most significant German philosophers of the 20th century, namely, Josef Pieper (1904-1997), this book is the only systematic treatment of his expansive philosophy to date.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1779-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-viii)
  3. 1 A Cosmopolitan Hermit: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Josef Pieper
    (pp. 1-23)
    Bernard N. Schumacher

    The German philosopher Josef pieper (1904–1997) continues to provoke among his contemporaries constructive, critical, and especially fruitful discussion on anthropological and ethical questions. He does this by formulating a defense of culture, which he contrasts with a pragmatic way of thinking that reduces the person to a specific role and function, to proletarian status. His thought is expressed in a lively style unfettered by any jargon or technical terminology—in contrast with much scholarly writing coming out of today’s universities. Such a use of language accompanied by the originality of his thought earned him the praises of the...

  4. 2 Josef Pieper in the Context of Modern Philosophy
    (pp. 24-62)
    Berthold Wald

    Josef pieper belongs to that small class of modern philosophers who took the political and moral catastrophe of the past century as a challenge for their own thought and action. Although until now his work has left only a few traces in the theoretical discourse of academic circles, its effect on the life and thought of countless students and readers has been much greater.¹ While Pieper rather extensively described the historical context of his career in his autobiographical works, he let fall only a few hints here and there about the more technical philosophical context of his writing.² The following...

  5. 3 Josef Pieper on the Intellectual Foundations of Totalitarianism
    (pp. 63-87)
    Frank Töpfer

    Totalitarian forms of government have affected the past century so profoundly that its history cannot be adequately understood without an investigation of the phenomenon of totalitarianism. such an investigation is not solely a subject for the particular fields of political science, sociology, or history. it is also a subject for philosophical reflection, that is to say, for a reflection that considers its object not in itself, separately from other fields of study, but rather within the horizon of reality as a whole.

    Josef Pieper can be counted among those who attempted to shed light in this way on the phenomenon...

  6. 4 Josef Pieper’s Early Sociological Writings
    (pp. 88-115)
    Hermann Braun

    For his entire life Josef Pieper was in search of the truth, guided by a far-off teacher. His thought did not follow fashion. Two early experiences left their mark on him. Hungry for a philosophical formation, he turned in his youth to Søren Kierkegaard, as did many of his generation. One of his teachers at the Gymnasium Paulinum nudged him in a different direction, explaining that the “black bread” of Thomas Aquinas is more nourishing than the Dane’s “pastries.” Pieper took the advice, and picked up the prologue to Aquinas’s commentary on the Gospel of John.²

    A meeting with Romano...

  7. 5 Josef Pieper and the Ethics of Virtue
    (pp. 116-140)
    Thomas S. Hibbs

    Perhaps no alteration in the landscape of Anglo-American philosophy in the last thirty years has been more surprising, more sustained, and more fruitful than the resurgence of interest in the ethics of virtue. Most discussions of the history of twentieth-century moral philosophy trace the return of virtue to Elizabeth Anscombe’s essay from the late 1950s, “Modern moral philosophy.”¹ A jeremiad against Kantian and utilitarian ethical theories, Anscombe’s essay urged that, given the present state of philosophical ethics—with its incoherent conceptions of obligation, its lack both of terminological clarity and of an adequate philosophical psychology—we should banish ethics totally...

  8. 6 The Future of Pieper’s Hope and History
    (pp. 141-170)
    Joseph J. Godfrey

    In 1967, Joseph pieper published the German edition of Hope and History; its first English translation came out two years later.¹ Now, more than forty years later, how well does Pieper’s thought about hope and history hold up? Is it still a helpful treatise?

    In this essay I propose to take the measure of Pieper’s treatise in light of some later studies on hope and on history. Pieper wrote in response to the prospect of nuclear annihilation, in response to the publication of Ernst Bloch’s 1959 The Principle of Hope, and in response to the works of Pierre Teilhard de...

  9. 7 Josef Pieper and the Concept of Tradition
    (pp. 171-198)
    Kenneth Schmitz

    It is well known that there can be, strictly speaking, no demonstration regarding first things. Now “tradition,” for Josef Pieper, is one of those first things. Or rather, precisely, it is not simply “one” of those first things; it is almost everything, that is, everything that is original, primordial, structural—it is the first thing. There can be no demonstration of it in the syllogistic, derivative, and secondary sense, since—being first—nothing stands behind it, nothing that could be relied upon as a presupposition from which a conclusion could be derived. And yet, for all that, there is a...

  10. 8 The Twofold Discipleship of the Philosopher: Faith and Reason in the Thought of Josef Pieper
    (pp. 199-227)
    Bernard N. Schumacher

    At the time of his first doctor honoris causa, conferred by the theology faculty of the University of Munich in 1964, Josef Pieper strongly objected to the “error invicibilis” of those who recognized him as a theologian under the pretext that he considered pre-philosophical data in his philosophical act. Declaring his intention to “attack a notion of philosophy which rejects the grandeur of its own origin,”¹ he proposed a rediscovery of the concept of philosophy as presented by the Western tradition. His reflection in the aftermath of the Second World War is radically opposed to Barthian thought, for which the...

  11. 9 Josef Pieper on the Truth of All things and the World’s True Face
    (pp. 228-250)
    Matthew Cuddeback

    The Truth of All Things is one of the defining works of Josef Pieper’s corpus.¹ In his autobiography Pieper describes the origins of this work:

    The subject of the “truth of things” had continued to ferment within me all this time [during World War II]. Above all, it gradually became clear to me that the old saying omne ens est verum is by no means a merely abstract doctrine of scholastic metaphysics but an utterly real and relevant statement about the nature of man.²

    so relevant for his age did Pieper deem omne ens est verum that there is hardly...

  12. 10 The Platonic Inspiration of Pieper’s Philosophy
    (pp. 251-278)
    Juan F. Franck

    Together with Aristotle, Augustine, and Thomas, Plato is for Josef Pieper one of the four greatest Western thinkers. Reference to the Athenian philosopher becomes more frequent in his mature works. Whereas in his first four volumes on the virtues—which date from 1934 through 1939 and are mainly conceived as a philosophical actualization of Aquinas’s thought—Plato is not quoted,¹ the other three—dating from the fifties, sixties, and seventies—show an increasing assimilation of basic Platonic theses.² This constitutes an important enrichment in Pieper’s philosophical itinerary. Without abandoning Thomas, Pieper sees in Plato a source of insights for illuminating...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 279-302)
  14. Contributors
    (pp. 303-308)
  15. Index of Names
    (pp. 309-312)