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Happiness and Contemplation [Paperback]

Josef Pieper , Richard Winston , Clara Winston

Price: 7.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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One need not be a philosopher to wonder what it all means but perhaps only a philosopher would suggest that our deepest longing is for contemplation. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is there one greatest good for all? 3 Feb 2006
By Mark Meuer - Published on
What is man's greatest good? What is the source of deepest happiness? Is it the same for all people, or is it impossible to say that there is a greatest good, a greatest happiness that would apply to everyone?

Josef Pieper explores these questions by explaining and defending St. Thomas' doctrine that contemplation is the deepest happiness of Man.

"Contemplation is man's greatest happiness" is a concept completely foreign to contemporary American society. It requires a fair amount of exploration and explanation just to understand what the statement is actually asserting. Because we tend to focus so strongly on action, and view contemplation as "doing nothing," we are very apt to completely miss St. Thomas' point.

To contemplate is, at the deepest level, to see something as it truly is. It is not just seeing the external characteristics of an object, but in a sense it is "seeing through" the object to the Love and Joy of the Creator of the Universe. To contemplate is to dwell in the reality of things.

My description falls far short of providing any real clarity. For that, I refer you to Josef pipers book. It is short and accessible and rewards a careful reading.

Some choice quotes:

Quoting Augustine: "No matter how much you labor, you labor to this end: that you may see."

"...everything holds and conceals at bottom a mark of its divine origin; that one who catches a glimpse of it 'sees' that this and all things are 'good' beyond all comprehension; and that, seeing this, he is happy. Here in sum is the whole doctrine of the contemplation of earthly creation." [pg. 88]

"This, incidentally, may suggest that the greatest menace to our capacity for contemplation is the incessant fabrication of tawdry empty stimuli which kill the receptivity of the soul..." [pg. 102]
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Do You Seek? 2 Sep 2007
By CDS - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We are often tempted to think that our search for happiness will be fulfilled by making or doing, by trying new experiences. Pieper in this book argues that the source of happiness is fundamentally simpler and yet more difficult to attain. He expresses in this book how the source and fulfillment of happiness are found through contemplation. I won't clarify this too much, because I think this book is an extremely worthwhile read. It can be dense at times, but struggling with it proved to be very rewarding. Pieper goes against many of the prevailing modern beliefs, but in the end his answers prove to be more sound and satisfying than many other answers out there.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Work of Art 6 Nov 2006
By Oswald Sobrino - Published on
Josef Pieper gave us a true and indisputable work of art in this short book. The theme is that man's happiness is found in contemplation, in seeing, in being together with, in the presence of the only beloved object that fully satisfies: God who is perfect goodness, truth, and beauty. The face of God is revealed in our contemplation of what He created. So it is apt that in the elegant lyrical beauty of this book we see the God we love. You have to read the book to experience its marvelous reflection of the Beauty we love. Anyone who has ever loved deeply will intuitively recognize what Pieper describes as man's highest happiness.
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