The Christian Idea of Man
The Christian Idea of Man

The Christian Idea of Man

  • Publish Date: 2011-08-30
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Josef Pieper
Regular price $33.53 Sale price $16.56

In The Christian Idea of Man Josef Pieper brings off an extraordinary feat. He acknowledges that whoever introduces the theme of virtue and the virtues can expect to be met with a smile of various shades of condescension. He then proceeds to single out prudence as the fundamental virtue on which the other cardinal virtues are based. In defining it, he does away with the shallow connotations which have debased it in modern times. Similarly, he manages to divest it of all traces of moralism, which, to a large extent has become identified with the Christian idea of virtue and has made it fall into general disrepute.
For Pieper, prudence is fundamentally based on a clear perception of reality of things as they are and the prudent person is the one who acts in accordance with this perception. It has nothing to do with knowing how to avoid decisions which might be to ones disadvantage. Similarly, justice, which is based on prudence, involves acting toward other persons according to ones perception of the truth of the circumstances again, a perception of things as they are. This is not a reference to any status quo, but to the reality as constituted by the Creator.
In referring to courage [fortitude], Pieper discusses the overcoming of fear. This does not imply having no fear but, precisely, overcoming it. With regard to the fundamental fear of death, Pieper rejects the approaches which contend that there is nothing to fear in death. On the contrary, there is everything to fear in death: it concerns the question of possible absolute annihilation! Here Pieper introduces the consideration of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love [charity]. When confronted with the question of possible annihilation, the Christians faith is paramount. Belief in God lets him confront danger and overcome even the most radical fear through hope in God.
His love of God does not wipe out fear but gives him courage.
Moderation is seen as the last in the hierarchy of the cardinal virtues. Through its manifestation, in recent Christian thinking, with chastity and abstinence, it became in the Christian mind the most prominent characteristic of the Christian idea of man and one that dominated everything else. It has been reduced to the status of the most private of the virtues and is combined with a moralistic conception of the good. Piepers analysis of moderation shows how this virtue needs to be rethought, although, even then, it will remain the last in the hierarchy of virtues.

Customer Reviews