Dissertation Project - Andrea Ritter

Topic of the planned dissertation:

Sein und Mensch-Sein. - Zum Verhältnis von Ontologie und Anthropologie  in der Philosophie Josef Piepers. (Existence and Human Existence - On the Relationship between Ontology and Anthropology in Josef Pieper's Philosophy.)



Prof. Dr. Josef Schmidt (SJ)



Hochschule für Philosophie, Munich


Abstract of the project:

This dissertation analyzes the connection between anthropology and ontology in Josef Pieper’s writings. An examination of his works reveals that his concept of man is closely linked to ontological assumptions. Pieper is part of the tradition of a philosophia perennis. His teacher Thomas Aquinas, a representative of the ontology of the High Middle Ages1, is of utmost importance for him. Pieper adopts his ontology in its essential points, yet without simply repeating what Thomas said. Rather, he is fully integrated in his own time, discussing its peculiar philosophical questions.

Against this background, Pieper interprets man as a creature whose being is open, and who is thus capable of perceiving truth. Pieper defines truth primarily in an ontological sense, namely as “the truth of things.” The act of philosophizing in particular reveals this main feature. Hence, according to Pieper the question on the meaning of philosophy is part of philosophical anthropology. It is not possible to make any statements on the nature of philosophy without simultaneously making a statement about man.2

The true is a transcendental quality of all being, as is the good. Therefore, man truly actualizes himself by doing something good. In Pieper’s eyes, a virtuous person does not only behave in accordance with what is right, but with his being. This is the reason why virtues are regarded as a central and quantitatively extensive aspect of Pieper’s complete works.

Against this background, the dissertation intends to find out Pieper’s concept of philosophy, how it is related to anthropology and on which ontological principles everything is grounded. As a consequence, the concepts of reality, being, the true and the good, as well as their interrelation in Pieper’s philosophy are also examined.

Finally, man finds himself within the horizon of absolute being. Pieper points this out frequently whenever he explicates the idea of creatureliness in the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas. The dissertation shows the meaning of this idea and describes how man can be rightly understood only in the light of his reference to absolute being.


1Cf. Pieper, Wahrheit der Dinge, Werke, volume 2, p. 100.

2Cf. Pieper, Was heißt philosophieren? Werke, volume 3, p. 17.


Estimated completion:

September 2009

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About 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. [more...]


Please inform the editorial staff about any publications on Josef Pieper.

:: Bibliography of Primary Lit.

:: Bibliography of Secondary Lit.

:: Monographs

:: Translations

Literature Research:

:: Sources

:: Libraries

Book Order:

Studies of Philosophy

:: Major Fields of Study

:: Final Degrees

:: Courses and Seminars

:: Contact


Philosophical studies are among the main institutional focuses of the Faculty of Theology in Paderborn in cooperation with the University of Paderborn. [more...]