But how does reality, that "holy and manifest mystery", give itself, and indeed so intensely that Goethe would have us reach out and grasp it "without delay"? Reality always gives itself as something more than can be grasped, as an inexhaustible "light that can never be drunk up". As I experience a loving "thou" that gives itself to me, I learn that this "more" - which is the very freedom of the other as he opens himself up to me - cannot be grasped, although at the same time I must also say that it truly does give itself to me and does not withdraw from me.
Pieper's knowledge of the history of philosophy is universal; although he never "shows off", he can when necessary hit the nail on the head with the perfect quotation from a relevant philosophical period, thus clarifying and supporting his meaning. But he is very far from letting things go at half-truths. On occasion he can reply with a sharply resounding "no!" and thus brand himself as one of the Untimely Inopportunes. This, he does, for instance, when responding to Descartes' and Bacon's concept of philosophy. Pieper clearly says no to these thinkers' view that philosophy ought to "make us into lords and possessors of nature" and that philosophical theory should be measured by the praxis that produces it. Pieper obviously does not mean that man should not create but that he should create only once he has received. Otherwise man consistently ends up in the atheism that results from his putting himself in the place of the Creator God. This, too, if the reason that Pieper must say no to the supposed high point of modern philosophy, the much-celebrated Hegel, when Hegel makes it his endeavor to have philosophy "approach the goal of shedding its name as 'love of knowledge' in order to become real knowledge": and here "real knowledge" means absolute knowledge that causes the mystery of Being to vanish into the dialectical method controlled by reason. And what has become of this demonic reaching for divine knowledge in the case of our contemporary post-Hegelians? Either the empty rattling of word play [Logistik], or a hermetic whispering about hermeneutics, or what ultimately becomes the bourgeois subjugation of knowledge under the state (Hegel), under the people (Hitler), or under society and the economy (Marx, Stalin, and Americanism).
When we have reached a situation in which nothing "gives" itself any longer or "opens up" to us from within, a situation in which nothing "hands itself over" on its own initiative and in which, therefore, thought is no longer devoted to the deepest interior source of a thing: in such a situation no opening of horizons toward the future remains possible. Only when philosophy is a love-filled longing for the ever-greater mystery of Being, an unconditional longing that propels man down his questing path - only then do we have a reliable basis for that opening up of the future Peiper is always calling for: a reliable basis, in other words, for hope.
- Hans Urs von Balthasar, from the Foreward to Josef Pieper: An Anthology.
In recent years, especially, a great deal of what I have written on my blogs has been "the empty rattling of word play." This is no doubt related to a long period of despair that lasted several years. The "intellectual project" (a farcical exaggeration if ever there were one) of this blog is now over. I have exhausted my hostilities to hope.
I will delete this blog at some point in the near future. I may continue my series on my bookstore days, but if so that will be on my private blog.
Any future public blogging I do will be a return to incognito.
Peace to you, dear reader.