Asking Candid Questions About Fundamental Convictions: Josef Pieper

While slowly reading the second of the three volumes of Josef Pieper’s Memoirs, Not Yet the Twilight (Noch Nicht Aller Tage Abend), I came more and more to think of him as a cultivated and disciplined man who so graciously asked candid questions about fundamental convictions.

In his conversation, as well as in his many books, he posed keen questions — often directly — about one’s own convictions and about those of others (even soon after meeting them for the first time, as he once did with me, in Spain in July of 1974). Such was also my experience of him down the years that I knew him — from July 1974 until his death at 93 years of age on 6 November of 1997. (Dr. Pieper was born on 4 May 1904, being thus in his early forties at the end of World War II in 1945 and only sixty years of age when his eldest and beloved son, Thomas, suddenly died in the United States in July of 1964. This interval of time — almost twenty years — is covered in this poignant, often very moving, second volume of his memoirs, which was written in German in 1978 when he was already seventy-four years of age.)

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