Aesthetics, Vol. II
The second volume of Hildebrand’s Aesthetics applies his original theory of the beautiful with tremendous depth and attention to many of the world’s most beloved works of art, including architecture, sculpture, painting, literature, and music.
Most philosophers of aesthetics content themselves with a few examples from the realm of art, and make no attempt to explore the distinct disciplines or to catalogue all the parts that contribute to the overall aesthetic effect. One purpose of this second volume, however, is to show the completeness of the artistic enterprise, and the way in which it penetrates human life in its entirety, so that the idea of beauty enters our practical activity at every point. We are seeking harmony and order in everything we do, and even if the sublime effects of the most spiritual works of art are beyond our everyday competence, we will always be motivated in our everyday activities by a fundamental need for harmony and an aversion to ugliness.Sir Roger Scruton | From the Foreword
Reviews & Commentary
From scholars, students, and readers
How does the beautiful evangelize? Following Dietrich von Hildebrand, we should say that the truly beautiful is an objective value, to be distinguished from what is merely subjectively satisfying. This means that the beautiful does not merely entertain; rather, it invades, chooses, and changes the one to whom it deigns to appear. It is not absorbed into subjectivity; it rearranges and redirects subjectivity, sending it on a trajectory toward the open sea of the beautiful itself.
Bishop Robert BarronTheologian, author, and founder of Word on Fire Ministries
Hildebrand’s aesthetics is a training in perception: through considering an extraordinary range of aesthetic phenomena, and myriad fine-grained metaphysical and phenomenological distinctions, we come to perceive far more beauty in the world than we previously did.
Mark K. Spencerin American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
His patient attempt to describe the particular features that inhere in each art form are not only brilliantly and minutely observed, they have also the quality of genuine philosophical perception.
James Matthew Wilsonin Forma Journal
Dietrich von Hildebrand’s engaging studies of different art forms is a marvelous illustration of the way phenomenology is uniquely accessible to a wider readership. Here is philosophy for the sake of the world. The result is a voracious, encyclopedic exploration—one is almost tempted to say a ‘romp’—through a range of concrete examples that would deepen anyone’s appreciation for what the arts can do. Most importantly, in an age of flattening reductionism, this book paints a picture of what it might mean for humanity to find its fullness through cultivating the same range of aesthetic curiosity.
James K.A. SmithEditor in chief, Image journal
Hildebrand helps us understand that our experience of the built world is fundamental to how we orient ourselves, spatially and temporally and psychologically and spiritually.
Anthony M. Barrin Ethika Politika
In Aesthetics II, Dietrich von Hildebrand offers a thorough reflection on the distinctive characteristics of architecture, sculpture, painting, literature, and music. He guides the mind with clarity even if the reader is not used to systematic intellectual reflection on a topic often relegated to the realm of subjective taste. The objective splendor that lies within a work of art, somehow transcending its human author, is one of many points worth contemplating in this volume. I am convinced that the section on music echoes not just my own experience but that of many performers striving to do justice to the works they bring to life. Whoever is looking for an aesthetic vision of the whole will find Aesthetics II deeply insightful, challenging, and encouraging.
Manfred HoneckMusic Director, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Taken together, the two volumes of Hildebrand’s Aesthetics are a treasury of art and nature criticism.
Andrew Thompson-Briggsin The University Bookman
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