Hope and History (Pieper)
By Josef Pieper
Hope and History
“The future is our only end.” This provocative selection from Pascal’s Pensées reads as the epigraph to Josef Pieper’s 1967 Hope and History. The remark, in full, reads: “The past and the present are our means; the future is our only end.” With the philosophical precision and imaginative brilliance typical of all Pieper’s writings, Hope and History assesses the acutely urgent question of what precisely constitutes the meaning of and the grounding for hope.
No man can keep from hoping.
For the question is an inescapable one: “No man can keep from hoping,” Pieper writes. Consequently, any consideration of human existence “cannot abstain from considering hope as a phenomenon and attempting to investigate it,” and ought to do so “in a philosophical way, that is to say, from every conceivable point of view.” Such is exactly what Pieper accomplishes in Hope and History, especially in his stirring conclusion that Christianity offers the definitive response to the culture of catastrophe and despair: a prophetic witness to the ultimate power of Christ to set man free for freedom—now and in the future.
Josef Pieper (1904–1997) was a German philosopher, professor, and author, widely read and recognized as a leader of Catholic thought in the twentieth century. His many works include the outstanding Leisure, the Basis of Culture; Faith, Hope, Love; and What Catholics Believe.