Josef Pieper

1981 Balzan Prize for Philosophy

For opening new horizons by reviving the eternal themes of Christian philosophy in a framework linking the wisdom of Ancient Greek thought with the Gospel message, in a language capable of arousing a new philosophical awareness of fundamental existential problems in a vast audience throughout the world.

Josef Pieper was born in Elte (Münster) on May 4, 1904 (†2001). He went to the Collegium Paulinum in Münster, read philosophy at Münster University and also attended courses in law and sociology in Münster and Berlin. In 1928 he graduated in philosophy (under the guidance of Professor Max Ettlinger) with a thesis on « Die ontische Grundlage des Sittlichen nach Thomas von Aquin » that was later published.

From 1928 to 1932 he was assistant to Professor Johann Plenge and from 1933 to 1940 he worked as a journalist for various Catholic magazines. In 1946 he qualified as a « Privat Dozent » with a thesis on anthropology in the High Middle Ages (« Wahrheit der Dinge ») and was appointed lecturer at the Teaching Academy of Essen. In 1959 he was appointed full professor of philosophical anthropology at the Faculty of Catholic Theology and later of philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy at Münster University.

Pieper has been a member of the « Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung » of Darmstadt since 1949, of the « Société Philosophique de Louvajn » since 1953, of the « Rheinisch-Westfähsche Akademie der Wissenschaften » since 1954, and of the « Pontificia Accademia Romana San Tommaso d’Aquino » since 1980.

He holds honorary doctorates from the Catholic Theology Faculty of Munich (1964) and Münster University (1974). Josef Pieper has also been awarded the « Doxa » prize by the Philosophical Academy of Mexico City (1980) and the « Romano Guardini » prize by the Katholische Akademie of Munich (1981).
His works include about 50 books and more than 400 publications.

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