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Josef Pieper (pronounced Pee-per)
Full name Josef Pieper (pronounced Pee-per)
Born May 4, 1904(1904-05-04)
Rheine-Elte, Germany
Died November 9, 1997 (aged 93)
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Christian philosophy
Main interests Philosophy of religion

Josef Pieper (May 4, 1904- November 6, 1997) was a German Catholic philosopher, at the forefront of the Neo-Thomistic wave in twentieth century Catholic philosophy. Among his most notable works are The Four Cardinal Virtues, Leisure, the Basis of Culture, The Philosophical Act, and Guide to Thomas Aquinas (published in England as Introduction to Thomas Aquinas). He translated C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, into German.


Life and career

Pieper studied philosophy, law and sociology at the universities of Berlin and M√ľnster. After working as a sociologist and freelance writer, he became ordinary professor of philosophical anthropology at the University of M√ľnster, and taught there from 1950 to 1976. As professor emeritus he continued to provide lectures until 1996.


His views are rooted primarily in the Scholasticism of Thomas Aquinas and in the teachings of Plato. In 60 years of creative work as a philosopher and writer, Pieper explicated the wisdom tradition of the West in clear language, and identified its enduring relevance.

A recent champion of Pieper's philosophy in the English-speaking world is James V. Schall, S.J., Professor of Political Philosophy at Georgetown University. His many books contain innumerable references to Pieper, particularly in his Another Sort of Learning and The Life of the Mind.


In 1981 Pieper received the Balzan Prize in Philosophy; in 1987 he was awarded the State Prize of the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen. In 1990, he received the Ehrenring of the Görres-Gesellschaft.

Select publications in English

  • Leisure, the Basis of Culture. Translated by Alexander Dru. With an introduction by T. S. Eliot. London: Faber and Faber, 1952. (Originally Musse und Kult. M√ľnchen: K√∂sel-Verlag, 1948). New translation by Gerald Malsbary. South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine's Press, 1998. ISBN 1890318353.
  • The End of Time: a meditation on the philosophy of history. Translated by Michael Bullock. New York : Pantheon Books, 1954. (Originally Uber das Ende der Zeit). Reprinted New York: Octagon Books, 1982. ISBN 0374964475. Reprinted San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999. ISBN 0898707269.
  • Happiness and Contemplation. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. New York : Pantheon, 1958. Reprinted, with an introduction by Ralph McInerny. South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine's Press, 1998. ISBN 1890318310.
  • The Four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance. Notre Dame, Ind., 1966. Translations originally published separately, Fortitude and Temperance translated by Daniel F. Coogan (1954); Justice translated by Lawrence E. Lynch (1955); and Prudence translated by Richard and Clara Winston (1959).
  • Scholasticism: Personalities and Problems of Medieval Philosophy. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. New York: Pantheon Press, 1960. Reissued South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine's Press, 2001. ISBN 1587317508.
  • Guide to Thomas Aquinas. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. New York: Pantheon Books, 1962. (Originally Hinf√ľhrung zu Thomas von Aquin.) Publication in England as Introduction to Thomas Aquinas. London: Faber and Faber, 1962. Reissued San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991. ISBN 0898703190
  • Enthusiasm and Divine Madness. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. New York : Harcourt, Brace & World, 1964. (Originally Begeisterung und G√∂ttlicher Wahnsinn). Reissued South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine's Press, 2000. ISBN 189031823X
  • In Tune with the World: a Theory of Festivity. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1965. (Originally Zustimmung zur Welt). Reissued South Bend, Ind. : St. Augustine's Press, 1999. ISBN 1890318337
  • Death and Immortality. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. New York: Herder & Herder; London: Burns & Oates, 1969.[1] (Originally Tod und Unsterblichkeit. Munich: K√∂sel-Verlag, 1968.). Reissued South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine's Press, 2000. ISBN 1890318183
  • Hope and History. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. New York: Herder & Herder; London: Burns & Oates, 1969. ISBN 0223976997.
  • On Hope. Translated by Mary Frances McCarthy. (Originally √úber die Hoffnung). San Francisco : Ignatius Press, 1986. ISBN 0898700671.
  • What is a Feast? Pascal Lectures on Christianity and the University. Waterloo: North Waterloo Academic Press, 1987. ISBN 0921075049.
  • No One Could Have Known: an autobiography: the early years 1904-1945. Translated by Graham Harrison. (Originally Noch wusste es Niemand). San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987. ISBN 0898701317.
  • In Defense of Philosophy: Classical wisdom stands up to modern challenges. Translated by Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. ISBN 0898703972 (Originally Verteidigungsrede f√ľr die Philosophie. Munich: K√∂sel-Verlag, 1966.)
  • In Search of the Sacred: Contributions to An Answer, San Francisco : Ignatius Press, 1991. ISBN 9780898703016
  • Josef Pieper: An Anthology, San Francisco : Ignatius Press, 1989. A translation of Josef Pieper: Lesebuch; 2nd ed., Munich : K√∂sel-Verlag, 1984. First edition 1981. ISBN 9780898702262


  1. ^ Reviewed by Christopher Derrick in the TLS Jan. 22, 1970, together with Hope and History.

This text contains elements translated from the German Wikipedia article.

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Wikipedia has an article about:
  • "Being precedes Truth, and ... Truth precedes the Good."
    • The Four Cardinal Virtues
  • "Modern religious teaching have little or nothing to say about the place of prudence in life or in the hierarchy of virtues."
    • The Four Cardinal Virtues
  • "The truth is the good of our knowing mind, upon which the mind fixes itself by nature; it is not granted to the mind to choose or not choose that good (truth!) on the basis, again, of knowledge. The finite mind does not comprehend itself so profoundly, and does not have such power over itself, that it follows its own light."
    • The Four Cardinal Virtues
  • "A friend and a prudent friend, can help to shape a friend's decision. He does so by virtue of that love which makes the friend's problem his own, the friend's ego his own (so that after all it is not entirely "from outside"). For by virtue of that oneness which love can establish he is able to visualize the concrete situation calling for decision, visualize it from, as it were, the actual center of responsibility. Therefore it is possible for a friend - only for a friend and only for a prudent friend - to help with counsel and direction to shape a friend's decision or, somewhat in the manner of a judge, help to reshape it.
    Such geniune and prudent loving friendship (amor amicitiae) - which has nothing in common with sentimental intimacy, and indeed is rather imperiled by such intimacy - is hte sine qua non for geniune spirtual guidance. For only this empowers another to offer the kind of direction which - almost! - conforms to the concrete situation in which the decision must be made."
    • The Four Cardinal Virtues
  • "The eye of perfected friendship with God is aware of deeper dimensions of reality, to which the eyes of the average man and the average Christian are not yet opened."
    • The Four Cardinal Virtues
  • "Justice is a habit (habitus), whereby a man renders to each one his due with constant and perpetual will."
    • The Four Cardinal Virtues
  • "To the virtue of temperance as the preserving and defending realization of man's inner order, the gift of beauty is particularly co-ordinated. Not only is temperance beautiful in itself, it also renders men beautiful. Beauty, however, must here be understood in its original meaning: as the glow of the true and the good irradiating from every ordered state of being, and not in the patent significance of immediate sensual appeal. The beauty of temperance has a more spiritual, more austere, more virile aspect. It is of the essence of this beauty that it does not conflict with true virility, but rather has an affinity to it. Temperance, as the wellspring and premise of fortitude, is the virtue of mature manliness.
    The infantile disorder of intemperance, on the other hand, not only destroys beauty, it also makes man cowardly; intemperance more than any other thing renders man unable and unwilling to 'take heart' against the wounding power of evil in the world"
    • The Four Cardinal Virtues

  • "We should consider for a moment how much the Christian understanding of life is based on the reality of 'Grace'; let us also recall that the Holy Spirit Himself is called 'Gift'; that the greatest Christian teachers have said that the Justice of God is based on Love; that something given, something free of all debt, something undeserved, something not-achieved - is presumed in everything achieved or laid claim to; that what is first is always something received - if we keep all this before our eyes, we can see the abyss that seperates this other attitude from the inheritence of Christian Europe."
    • Leisure, the Basis of Culture (page 20)
  • "Now the code of life of the High Middle Ages said something entirely opposite to this: that it was precisely lack of leisure, an inability to be at leisure, that went together with idleness; that the restlessness of work-for-work's sake arose from nothing other than idleness. There is a curious connection in the fact that the restlessness of a self-destructive work-fanatacism should take its rise from the absence of a will to accomplish something. "
    • Leisure, the Basis of Culture (page 27)


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