The Christian Idea of Man Paperback – 30 Aug 2011
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About the Author
The late Josef Pieper was author of numerous works in philosophy and theology. St. Augustine's Press has published a number of these: "The Concept of Sin, The Silence of St. Thomas, The Silence of Goethe, Tradition, Death and Immortality, Enthusiasm and Divine Madness, Happiness and Contemplation, In Tune with the World, "and "Scholasticism," as well as the forthcoming "Platonic Myths."
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The Christian Idea of Man is an excellent starting point for beginning to answer the questions who am I? What am I? What does it mean to be human? What is my purpose? As a society verging on the global village our contemporary answers are far from satisfying. The misery that results from misconceptions about what it is to be a man should be readily apparent even to the dullest among us. Unfortunately, the media, universities, teachers and politicians don't have the benefit of humility that the dullest among us have and thus, the truth about our condition remains painfully distant from our apprehension. Think of the disasters of the utopias initiated by Stalin, Mao, Castro and many more at the bidding of Marx, Lenin, Hegel, Freud et al. Unprecedented murder, torture and totalitarian control. Eugenics and abortion are the fruit of that tree and it is going so poorly for us on that score that we are forced to listen to Mother Theresa's adage "a society that kills its own unborn children is not worth saving."
Joseph Pieper lays out for us the foundational tenets of the Christian idea of Man. This very short and accessible book covers much ground and its primary source is St. Thomas Aquinas, whose primary source is of course the Logos; the revealed word of God. This book has the potential to disabuse one whose mind has perhaps been poisoned by the narcodrine drip of modern thought. If man has a purpose, this book goes a long way to starting the dialogue to understanding. The end of the Christian Idea of Man is the Good Life, the only truly good life available to us.
This book can easily be read at a sitting, but here patience is a virtue and slowing things down a bit is highly advised. This book can be seen as a hub to countless spokes that ought to be followed to complete an understanding of the Christian Idea of Man.
The nice feature about this book is that it is succinct and tightly focused. Like many of Pieper's other books, this one is filled with aphorisms and insights for contemplation. For example, Pieper observes with respect to prudence:
>>>"The prudent person looks, on the one hand, at the objective reality of things and, on the other hand, at will and action. But he looks first at reality; and by virtue of and on the basis of his knowledge of reality he decides what is to be done and what not, and how it is to be done and how not. And so in truth all virtue is dependent on prudence. And every sin is somehow in contradiction with prudence, omne peccatum opponitur prudentiae."<<<(p. 14)
Pieper is concerned with moralism, which he describes as follows:
>>>"Moralism says: good is what obligation requires, and because obligation requires it. The doctrine of prudence says: good wis what accords with reality; it is obligatory because it corresponds to reality." (p. 16.) <<< Pieper looks at the order of the virtues - the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitutde, and the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. Prudence comes first, for without a foundation in reality nothing else is possible. Fortitude or bravery is impossible without justice:
>>>"Courage is only virtue where justice is the aim. One who is not just cannot in a genuine sense be courageous." (p. 23 - 24.)
Simply stated, but well-worth pondering.
Pieper offers other treasures of insight with respect to the other virtues.
This book can easily be knocked off in an hours worth of reading. For it's depth of insight, it is an excellent introduction to the virtues, and to the writings of Josef Pieper.
Read this book and then dive into The Four Cardinal Virtues and Faith Hope Love.
The rewards are rich.