Taking Truth for Granted: A Reflection on the Significance of Tradition in Josef Pieper

D. C. Schindler

When Josef Pieper explores a philosophical theme, his typical practice is to begin by laying out what has already been said, and has generally found acceptance, on the matter. There is a certain irony in the fact that, when he sets himself to reflect specifically on the theme of tradition, he finds that virtually nothing has been handed down on this subject in the realm of philosophy.1 Quite unusually, there is no entry on “tradition” in the great German philosophical dictionaries, and the classic dictionaries in theological and classical literature provide entries of such narrow scope as to offer very little to the philosophical mind. Thus, when he takes up this particular theme in his 1970 book, Tradition: Concept and Claim, Pieper discovers he has to start more or less from scratch.2

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