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Abuse of Language Abuse of Power [Paperback]

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Item Number 126636  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   54
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.62" Width: 6.5" Height: 0.22"
Weight:   0.15 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 1992
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  089870362X  
EAN  9780898703627  
UPC  008987036203  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
One of the great Catholic philosophers of our day reflects on the way language has been abused so that, instead of being a means of communicating the truth and entering more deeply into it, and of the acquisition of wisdom, it is being used to control people and manipulate them to achieve practical ends.Reality becomes intelligible through words. Man speaks so that through naming things, what is real may become intelligible. This mediating character of language, however, is being increasingly corrupted. Tyranny, propaganda, mass-media destroy and distort words. They offer us apparent realities whose fictive character threatens to become opaque. Josef Pieper shows with energetic zeal, but also with ascetical restraint, the path out of this dangerous sitation. We are constrained to see things again as they are and from the truth thus grasped to live and to work. Ignatius Press, 54 pages. Paperback.

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More About Josef Pieper

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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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Honesty and Truth vs. Lying and Dishonesty  Apr 27, 2008
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)once wrote, "It is better to live uncomfortably with the truth than contentedly with lies." Joseph Pieper would agree except, Joseph Pieper would argue that living with truth and honesty can make men live comfortably. Jospeh Pieper's small book titled ABUSE OF LANGUAGE:ABUSE OF POWER is a serious book which makes this very clear to readers.

Pieper begins this book with a serious treatment of Plato's (427-347 BC)serious dispute with the Ancient Athenian sophists who taught men to use clever words and communication to deceive men with total disregard for truth. Plato argued that the sophists were very dangerous men because of their intellectual prowess and supposed sophistication. The unleaned could be easily misled and become dangerous because of the respect given to the sophists which they did not deserve. Readers may ask what is the relevance of the dispute between Plato and the sophists to modern Western "Civilization." One answer may be studied in the Bolshevik (Communist)Revolution in Russia in 1917. Those who engineered this revolution were members of a declasse intelligensia who knew the use and abuse of language.

Pieper then makes a solid point that any communication (language) between an honest man and a liar is useless since the liar has nothing to offer leading to knowledge. Pieper states in effect that the honest man may just as well be talling to thin air, or hot air. The liar is trying to manipulate and gain power over the honest man which is destructive to the honest man if he unaware.

Pieper has an interesting explanation of the destruciveness of flattery. The flatterer is trying to intellectually disarm those whom he flatters to gain advantage. A knowledgeable man who is honest is immune to such flattery. However, flattery can be used to undermine the victim to the advantage dishonest person. A good example is in the Book of Genesis whereby the snake successfully flatters Eve to her destruction as well that of Adam.

Pieper uses Plato's DIALOGUES using Socrates' statements regarding an honest search for truth which could lead to bona fide knowledge, better thinking, wisdom, and ultimately Divine Wisdom which Plato thought should be the ultimate goal of civlized men. The religous implications of the concept of Divine wisdom are obvous. Sophistry (the sophists)has no regard for knowledge or Divine Wisdom and is only concerned with material advantage and corruption of language. This in turn means corrpution of thought and has nothing to with actual learning.

Pieper is not complaining about ignorance. This reviewer defines ignorance as not knowing. An honest ignorant man can learn from an honest learned man which benefits the former. A good example is the communication between student and teacher. Plato's DIALOGUES uses such example to let readers know that those who are not learned can indeed learn.

Pieper shows scorn for advertising and media. He comments that advertising appeals to the lowest human instincts in an attempt to promote materialism to the point of lack of respect of others and lack of self respect. Pieper argues that advertising and media appeal to sexual exploitation, disregard for any civilized values, uncontrolled violence, etc. The point has been reached in Western "Civilization" that the masses are taught to take sadistic pleasure at the tragic misfortunes of others.

With the emergence of mass media and advertising, tyrants and despots have enhanced their power. Tyrants are alert to the effectiveness of propaganda and advert6ising in deceiving the masses. Threats of physical violence are blurred by the abuse of language. Such words as purges, liquidation, etc. are substituted for actual concentration camp brutality and mass murder. The masses are complicit in such evil by their indifference and "a ruthless desire to conform." Tyrants and despots must have enemies, real or imagined, to promote a materialistic utopia which ignores wisdom and "ultimate values."

The second part of the book uses Aristotle's (384-322 BC) and St. Thomas Aquinas'(1225-1274 AD)thinking to futher illustrate authenic learning and honest reason to help men learn wisdom and ultimately "Divine Wisdom." Both men argued that through logic, learning, etc. men could approach God, The Prime Motor, The Unmoved Mover, etc. by serious study and honest truth. What Pieper implies that these men and many in the historical Catholic Church did was to enshrine reason next to Devine Revelation and to learn more of Divine Revelation. Reason and honesty were to be communicated to enhance learning and religious understanding as well as relgious convictions. HOnest communication meant so much to these men.

Another example from Ancient History can be gleaned from Thucydides'(c.460 BC-c.400 BC)book THE PELOPONESIAN WAR. Beginning on page 242 (Penguin Edition)Thucydides showed serious concern of how war and revolution corrupted language, honest character,etc. and enhanced corrupt political power. George Orwell's 1984 has disturbing comments on the abuse of language especially beginning on page 17.

Pieper's book should require careful reading even for its small size. Pieper's book is clear that those who are concerned with honest communication, truth, honest discourse, etc. are free from petty materialism and apprehensive concern for conformity. On page 54, Pieper cites a quote from Boethius (c. 480-520 AD)who wrote, "The human soul, in essence, enjoys its highest freedom when it remains in the comtemplation of God's mind." Boethius wrote this in his jail cell on the eve of his execution.
A Manifesto for the integrity of words  Apr 13, 2001
We drive down the freeway of life and are bombarded with little slogans and attempts to convince and smartly convert us to a way of thinking with marketing bill boards, or through the mail, on TV, in the paper - subtle attempts to steal our minds by over-loading them with a coorporate marketing agenda and sloganism. A bit abusive language on my part.

The question is worth pondering, and the questions raised in this book are of the sort that any educated man should ponder, even if there is no solution, it makes great "smartening-up" not "dumbing down" (sloganism) of the curriculum. Peiper persuasively argues that communication is not happening as much as might be thought, because communication must be void of ulterior motives. And his arguement that we must be able to express our view of the "truth of things" in freedom; why many do not is due to what he calls "the lingo of the revolution".

Words really do have meaning!  Aug 20, 2000
In this slender, but powerful work, the great (and often overlooked) Thomistic scholar Josef Pieper sends out a call to arms against "every partisan simplification, every ideological agitation, every blind emotionality . . . [and] well-turned yet empty slogans . . ." He pulls no punches in taking on those modern (and ancient) sophists who rape and pillage language in order to obtain political power and cultural currency. He also takes on modern advertising, noting that we live in an age and culture where "what is decisive is not what you say, but how you say it." In an era of politically-correct pap, vapid mantras and bumper-sticker philosophy, this book sends a clear, clean note of truth into the murky darkness of a deafened and confused populace.

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