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Adriaan T. Peperzak: A Research Guide: Home

This guide introduces and contains resources relating to Adriaan T. Peperzak, whose personal library (the Adriaan T. Peperzak Alcove) and Archive are located within the Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center.

Adriaan T. Peperzak at his desk

Adriaan T. Peperzak

Photo Credit: Loyola University Chicago. [2015]. Adriaan Peperzak, PhD. [Digital lmage]. Retrieved from

Adriaan T. Peperzak is a Dutch philosopher and educator.  He was born in Java (Indonesia) as a Dutch citizen.  He studied philosophy and theology in The Netherlands, and gained a licentiate in philosophy at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of Louvain University (Belgium).  He achieved a PhD in Humanities at the University of Paris (Sorbonne), with his doctoral dissertation Le jeune Hegel et la vision morale du monde, directed by Paul Rioeur, published in 1960.


He has taught in many universities in many places, including The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Indonesia, and the United States. In the US, he has taught at Duquesne University, Pennsylvania State University, Boston College, Loyola University Chicago, Villanova University, and Stanford University. His research has focused on Hegel and Emmanuel Levinas, although he has also published on Plato, Aristotle, Bonaventura, Descartes, Heidegger, and Ricoeur, thematically focusing on questions in ethics, social and political philosophy, metaphilosophy, and the philosophy of religion.

from Adriaan T. Peperzak Archive. Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center.

Selected Works by Peperzak

Trust: who or what might support us?

This phenomenological study begins by presenting trust as a characteristic form of interpersonal and communal relationship. In the second chapter, the scope is narrowed to someone's reliance on one or more trustworthy individuals. Chapters 3 to 5 explore specific aspects of trust, insofar as we confide in social structures or movements, the impersonal regularities and events of nature, or our own particular talents, motivations, and possibilities. In a world that is ravaged by the omnipresence of suffering and the most outrageous manifestations of evil, no philosopher can avoid the question of what kind of trust may be profound and strong enough to overcome the ultimate anxiety or despair that threatens all human existence. In the Western tradition of belief, thinking, faith, and searching for the first and ultimate, that question is approached here through reflection upon the radical difference between trust (or faith) in the universe (the totality) and faith (or trust) in God.

Thinking about Thinking: what kind of conversation is philosophy?

Thinking about Thinking examines philosophy from a variety of perspectives as a practice realized by persons who communicate with one another while reflecting about the meaning of human life and thought. Without forgetting the logical and methodological conditions of systematic thought, the author insists on the intimate connections that tie all philosophical texts and conversations to the lives from which they emerge. As product of an individual thinker, who, thanks to individual teachers, has been familiarized with particular traditions of a particular culture, each philosophy is unique. If it is a good one, it is also revealing for many--perhaps even for all--other philosophers. At the same time, all thinking is addressed to individual interlocutors, each of whom responds to it by transforming it into a different philosophy. This fact invites us to explore the dialogical dimension of thinking, which, in turn, refers us to the communitarian and historical contexts from which solitude, as well as solidarity, competition, alliances, and friendships in thought, emerge.

Thinking: from solitude to dialogue and contemplation

Philosophers speak--or, rather, they respond to various forms of speaking that are handed to them. This book by one of our most distinguished philosophers focuses on the communicative aspect of philosophical thought. Peperzak's central focus is "addressing": what distinguishes speaking or writing from rumination is their being directed by someone to someone. To be involved in philosophy is to be part of a tradition through which thinkers propose their findings to others, who respond by offering their own appropriations to their interlocutors. After a critical sketch of the conception of modern philosophy, Peperzak presents a succinct analysis of speaking, insisting on the radical distinction between speaking about and speaking to. He enlarges this analysis to history and tries to answer the question whether philosophy also implies a certain form of listening and responding to words of God. Since philosophical speech about persons can neither honor nor reveal their full truth, speaking and thinking about God is even more problematic. Meditation about the archaic Word cannot reach the Speaker unless it turns into prayer, or--as Descartes wrote--into a contemplation that makes the thinker "consider, admire, and adore the beauty of God's immense light, as much as the eyesight of my blinded mind can tolerate." "Thinking is a work of genuine and original scholarship which responds to the tradition of philosophical thinking with a critique of its language, style, focus, and scope."--Catriona Hanley, Loyola College, Maryland

Philosophy Between Faith and Theology: addresses to Catholic intellectuals

Adriaan Theodoor Peperzak contends that while many Catholic philosophers try to practice a modern, autonomous style of thinking, their experience of a faith-guided life necessarily compels them to integrate their scholarly pursuits with their Christian faith. He writes, "Christians who think cannot separate their thought from their faith and theology." Indeed, he argues that the work of Christian, particularly Catholic, philosophers loses its vitality when philosophers try to restrict their reflections to natural reason alone. In this book he explores the essential unity of philosophical and theological thought from various perspectives and pleads for a radical change of method in philosophy.Peperzak maintains that the interdependencies of philosophy, theology, and the sciences must collectively determine the character of a Catholic university. For him, all serious philosophy has a profoundly religious character and is the quest for a kind of wisdom unhampered by arbitrary boundaries. His plea for a paradigm shift in philosophy and theology concentrates on the idea of speaking God's word in a way that provokes appropriate responses, including praise and prayer.

Elements of Ethics

This work renews the basic questions and principles of philosophical ethics and provides a thorough account of how being oneself presupposes freedom and responsibility. Elements of Ethics focuses on the descriptive and conceptual analysis of the experiences through which human lives become aware of themselves and shows how we are provoked to respond appropriately to the various dimensions and phenomena of the universe. Operating on the provocative thesis that "if the ethical is real, it cannot be proved, because it is either nothing at all or an irreducible origin," this book pursues the question that defines ethics: "How should I live?" After setting out a preliminary definition of terms, Elements of Ethics gives insight into the relation of human individuals and the world by showing that the traditional separation between "is" and "ought" overlooks their profound coincidence, and by clarifying the determining, though often overlooked, role of affectivity and katharsis in all ethical experiences.

The Quest for Meaning: friends of wisdom from Plato to Levinas

One of our most distinguished thinkers, Adriaan Peperzak has masterfully explored the connections between philosophy, ethics, religion, and the social and historical contexts of human experience. He offers a personal gathering of influences on his own work as guides to the uses of philosophy in our search for sense and meaning. In concise, direct, and deeply felt chapters, Peperzak moves from Plato, Plotinus, and the Early Christian theologians to Anselm, Bonaventure, Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, Hegel, and Levinas. Throughout these carefully linked essays, he touches on the fundamental ideas-from reason and faith to freedom and tradition-that inform the questions his work has consistently addressed, most specifically those concerning philosophy as a practice.

Modern Freedom: Hegel's legal, moral, and political philosophy

This book, the result of 40 years of Hegel research, gives an integral interpretation of G.W.F. Hegel's mature practical philosophy as contained in his textbook, Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts, published in 1820, and the courses he gave on the same subject between 1817 and 1830.

The Reason in Faith: on the Relevance of Christian Spirituality for Philosophy

Postmodern reflections on, the interface of philosophy and religion, pointing to ways each can learn from the other.


Although Emmanuel Levinas is widely respected as one of the classic thinkers of our century, the debate about his place within Continental philosophy continues. In Beyond: The Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, Adriaan Theodoor Peperzak shows Levinas's thought to be a persistent attempt to point beyond the borders of an economy where orderly interests and ways of reasoning make us feel at home--beyond the world of needs, beyond the self, beyond politics and administration, beyond logic and ontology, even beyond freedom and autonomy. Peperzak's examination begins with a general overview of Levinas's life and thought, and shows how issues of ethics, politics, and religion are intertwined in Levinas's philosophy. Peperzak also discusses the development of Levinas's relations with Husserl and Heidegger, demonstrating thematically the evolution of both Levinas's anti-Heideggerian view of technology and his critical attitude toward nature.

Platonic Transformations

Against the widespread antiplatonism of the 20th century, this work shows how one of the greatest modern philosophers, Hegel, and two great postmodern thinkers, Heidegger and Levinas, creatively transform Plato's thoughts about reality, truth and the Good into elements of their own reflection.

Emmanuel Levinas

Offers a selection of Emmanuel Levinas's important philosophical writings. This anthology provides an introduction to his thought and offers insights into his ideas. It also outlines his philosophical development and the basic themes of his writings. It is useful for students of philosophy concerned with understanding and assessing his work.

Ethics As First Philosophy

In Ethics as First Philosophy, Adrian P. Peperzak brings together a wide range of essays by leading international scholars to discuss the work of the 20th century French philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas. The first book of its kind, this collection explores the significance of Levinas' texts for the study of philosophy, psychology and religion. Offering a complete account of the most recent research on Levinas, Ethics as First Philosophy is an extraordinary overview of the various approaches which have been adopted in interpreting the work of a revolutionary but difficult contemporary thinker.

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This LibGuide originally created by Matthew A. Jones, MLIS, 2019.

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