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Concept of Sin [Hardcover]

By Josef Pieper (Author) & Edward T. Oakes (Translator)
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Item description for Concept of Sin by Josef Pieper & Edward T. Oakes...

In ordinary conversation, including among the "educated", the word "sin" rarely gets mentioned except when one is trying to be coy or facetious. As Thomas Mann once said, "sin" is nowadays "an amusing word used only when one is trying to get a laugh".

But this small work will interpret sin in its true -- that is, serious -- meaning. What will emerge from its analysis is the discovery that the concept of sin can still serve to unlock the mystery of existence, at least for a thinking that wants to press down to the very foundations.

Needless to say, such an effort will require a kind of "mining energy" of an archeologist of ideas who knows how to recover what was once known (or at least suspected) from time immemorial but has now been forgotten. But Josef Pieper does more than bring to bear on this issue his famous powers of excavation; he also makes meaningful the concept of sin to the ways of thinking and speaking of our time.

Readers of his work already know Pieper as an extraordinarily fitting master in this art of making "the wisdom of the ages" a living reality today. And in this work he brings Plato, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas into a living dialogue with T. S. Eliot, Andre Gide, even with Jean-Paul Sartre. As he shows in this powerful work, none of these writers leaves any doubt that the fact of sin is central: It is the willful denial of one's own life-ground, a denial that alone rightly bears the name of "sin". Paradoxically, this reality is both willed and yet also pre-given, that is, both adventitious and yet somehow innate to our existence -- a paradox which, next to the mystery of existence itself, is the most impenetrable mystery of all.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: St. Augustines Press
Pages   116
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 15, 2001
Publisher   St. Augustine's Press
ISBN  1890318078  
ISBN13  9781890318079  

Availability  0 units.

More About Josef Pieper & Edward T. Oakes

Josef Pieper Josef Pieper (1904-1997) was professor of philosophical anthropology at the University of Münster/Germany; he was a member of several academies and received numerous awards and distinctions, among them the International Balzan Prize for outstanding achievements in the field of humanities.

Pieper is among the most widely read philosophers of the 20th century. The main focus of his thought is the overcoming of cultural forms of secular totalitarianism and of its philosophical foundations through a rehabilitation of the Christian concept of man that is related to experience and action. Plato and Thomas Aquinas in particular were the inspiring sources of a constructive criticism of contemporary culture.

Josef Pieper was born in 1904 and died in 1997.

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1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Philosophy > History & Surveys
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Free Will & Determinism
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4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Religious

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Reviews - What do customers think about Concept of Sin?

A Good Guide for Pondering a Difficult Reality  May 24, 2008
That the reality of sin and its effects is not solely a Christian idea is one of Pieper's key points in this book. He draws heavily from the ancient Greeks, as well as from the East, and from modern authors, who all illustrate how the concept of sin, and even the distinction between mortal and venial sin, is something which is found throughout human experience. He develops these concepts, and furthermore touches on specifically Christian elements to the understanding of sin and redemption. However, this book provides many insightful approaches to pondering the reality of sin.
a good read for a philosophical argument on sin  Jan 3, 2007
Its been a few months, but it was really interesting to read philosophical reasons for not sinning. Sin is contrary to nature and reason and the only reason we continually fall for it is hubris (pride).
The Experienced Reality of Sin  Dec 13, 2006
This is a short book whose pages are worth re-reading because Pieper, as usual, succeeds in removing the veil on the reality of sin. We too often think of sin as some archaic or artificial concept that is imposed on us. In fact, sin is a reality that attacks the very center and roots of our being. By any other name, it would still be there and be sin. Pieper shows us carefully how sin is tied to our creatureliness and how sin is a turning away from God. He takes the reader step by step toward this conclusion and then points us to the magnificent solution: God solves the problem, that we cannot solve, by a gift, the gift of forgiveness and mercy. But the enlightenment is in the journey Pieper leads us on in these pages.
Traditional Catholic View of Sin  Jun 13, 2005
Josef Pieper is a German Catholic philosopher in the Thomistic tradition (1904-1997). I liked this little book. It summarized and re-emphasized traditional Catholic views about sin in a concise manner. Sin is essentially an act that may be described as a "missing the mark," a "false step," a "failure to behave in a rational and human manner." Pieper identifies the roots of sin just as St. Thomas Aquinas did, in PRIDE (superbia) and DESIRE (cupiditas). He also devoted a whole chapter to the difference between mortal and venial sins, by showing how even the Greco-Roman philosophical tradition acknowledged such distinction.
Although the book did a great job in outlining the traditional Catholic view of Sin, I wish the author would have foused less on his polemics with Hartmann (a thinker who denies the magnitude and gravity of the concept of Sin) and reviewed two competing views of sin instead: the first, developed by Reformed Theology, according to which Sin is essentially an existential condition, rather than an act, and the second, developed by Buddhism. A lot could be said about the similarities between the Thomistic view of Sin and the Buddhist view of suffering (caused by desire and pride, or false sense of ego), but that was not in Pieper's mind.
A good read, but I was hoping to find some new insights.
Thought provoking  Oct 12, 2002
All too often, the word "sin" stirs up notions of personal responsibility, even guilt, which is uncomfortable and would rather avoid. So we blame our genes, an incurable illness, or we simply declare flatly (without evidence) that this is "human nature".

However, I find that this book places this concept in its proper perspective. Pieper opens his discourse with a quote from T.S. Eliot's "The Cocktail Party", which is illuminating: "I should really like," says Celia, "to think that there's something wrong with me. Because if there isn't, there's something wrong... with the world itself. And that's so much more frightening! That would be terrible. So I'd rather believe there's something wrong with me, that could be put right."


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