7th Annual Summer Seminar
June 25 – July 1, 2017
Marking the English release of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s landmark text, Aesthetics, the 7th Annual Hildebrand Project Summer Seminar had the theme “Retrieving Beauty.” In a culture dominated by relativism and the assertion of ugliness, there has been a wholesale loss of the sense for beauty and its vital role in individual and communal flourishing. Although beauty can be forgotten, even rejected, the longing for it cannot be extinguished. It will seek fulfillment in distortions of beauty, notably in kitsch. But it remains potent and can be reawakened through the encounter with genuine beauty.
This seminar mines Hildebrand’s Aesthetics for answers to today’s pressing questions about beauty. We are led by Hildebrand and other major voices on beauty, from Plato, Augustine, and Aquinas, to Hans Urs von Balthasar, Jacques Maritain, and Joseph Ratzinger, toward a retrieval of beauty from the iconoclastic grasp of the modern age.
Retrieving Beauty – Videos
Beauty in the Tradition: Plato (Robert Wood)
Beauty in the Tradition: Jacques Maritain and St. Thomas Aquinas (Robert Wood)
Beauty in the Tradition: Hans Urs von Balthasar (D.C. Schindler)
Beauty in the Tradition: Heidegger (Robert Wood)
Intro to Personalism: Gabriel Marcel (Michael Healy)
Intro to Personalism: Dietrich von Hildebrand (Fritz Wenisch)
2017 Seminar Faculty and Guests
John F. Crosby
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
Personalism, John Henry Newman, John Paul II, Dietrich von Hildebrand
Prof. Crosby was himself a student of Dietrich Hildebrand. Besides writing major studies on the thought of John Henry Newman, Max Scheler, and Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II, and making his own contributions to personalist philosophy, Prof. Crosby has devoted his long and distinguished academic career—first at the University of Dallas, then at the International Academy of Philosophy, and currently at Franciscan University of Steubenville—to introducing his students to the intellectual legacy of Hildebrand, and also to making Hildebrand better known in scholarly circles. Prof. Crosby was the translator of the English edition of Hildebrand’s philosophical masterpiece, The Nature of Love, and he also serves as the General Editor of all our present and future translations of Hildebrand’s works.
Fritz Wenisch is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Rhode Island. Born in Austria, he studied at the University of Salzburg. He considers himself as belonging to a philosophical movement going back to Edmund Husserl’s publication Logical Investigations (1900/01), called phenomenological realism. He is particularly interested in examining thinkers of this movement, especially the contributions of Dietrich von Hildebrand, whom he knew as teacher and friend. In systematic philosophy, his interests center on ethics, theory of knowledge, and philosophy of religion.
Robert E. Wood
Robert E. Wood was professor of philosophy at the University of Dallas. He is a past president of the American Catholic Philosophical Association and, from 1989-2009, editor of its organ, the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. He is author of Martin Buber’s Ontology, A Path into Metaphysics, Placing Aesthetics, Hegel’s Introduction to the System, and The Beautiful, the True, and the Good: Studies in the History of Thought, a collection of 23 of his papers from 1966-2012. He has completed a second aesthetics book, Nature, Artforms, and the World Around Us, and has published over 90 articles, several of them on aesthetics.
Dr. Wood passed away in February 2023.
Roberta Green Ahmanson
Roberta Green Ahmanson is a writer and explorer focused on discovering the nature of reality, the role of religion, and the meaning of history and the arts. Since 1986, Ahmanson has worked with her husband, Howard, in shaping the granting priorities of his private philanthropy, Fieldstead and Company. In that time, the Ahmansons have sponsored a number of art exhibitions at museums in the United States and the U.K., including The Sacred Made Real at the National Gallery in London. Two things stand out in her publications and speeches at universities, churches, and conferences: first, she is certain that Beauty is essential to human life, every human life. Second, she is convinced that we become what we worship.
D.C. Schindler is Associate Professor of Metaphysics and Anthropology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America. He received his Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America in 2001, with a dissertation on the philosophy of Hans Urs von Balthasar. He taught at Villanova University from 2001-2013, first as a teaching fellow in the Philosophy Department, and then in the Department of Humanities, where he received tenure in 2007. He received an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship to do research in Munich from 2007-2008. He is currently working on a multi-volume critique of the modern concept of freedom as the power to choose in light of a metaphysics of freedom based on actuality. Professor Schindler is a translator of French and German and has served as an editor of Communio: International Catholic Review since 2002.
Justin Shubow is President of the National Civic Art Society and former Chairman of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, an independent federal agency comprising seven presidential appointees who are the aesthetic guardians of Washington, D.C. Mr. Shubow has testified in Congress on topics such as the future of the National Mall and the design of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. He is the author of The Gehry Towers over Eisenhower: The National Civic Art Society Report on the Eisenhower Memorial, a critical examination of the memorial’s competition, design, and agency approval. He has published architectural criticism at Forbes online, First Things, Public Discourse, The Washington Post, and The Weekly Standard. Mr. Shubow is a former editor at Forward newspaper and Commentary magazine, and is a recipient of a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship. He has delivered talks on architecture and other subjects at the U.S. Department of State, American Enterprise Institute, Baylor University, Colorado College, Hamilton College, and the Universities of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and others. Mr. Shubow received a B.A. from Columbia University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and completed four years of study in the University of Michigan’s Ph.D. program in philosophy; he has taught philosophy courses as an instructor at the University of Michigan and Yale College. He is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Roger Scruton Legacy Foundation and the Board of Academic Advisors of the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.
Marie Miller is a songwriter and Curb Records recording artist from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.
When Marie Miller writes a song, she does what all gifted writers do: She looks at her life and into her heart to make sure what she creates comes from real emotion and experience.
She also does something none of peers likely do: she searches through classic literature, whether it be Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy or Homer. There, she finds parallels for what she wants to say, channels that inspiration into her lyrics and comes up with something unique: Music that’s immediate and timeless, driven by feelings all listeners can relate to yet infused with a perspective that transcends the present.
Born in Dublin in 1971, Dony Mac Manus graduated with a Bachelor of Design (1995) and a Higher Diploma in Art and Design Teaching (1998) at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland. The work from his degree show was selected by the National Museum of Ireland for permanent display to launch the contemporary silver collection. He went on to receive a $20,000 Millennium Scholarship Trust from the Bank of Ireland to study a Masters in Fine Art (2001) at the New York Academy of Art and also won a $8,000 Scholarship from the same NYAA to use a studio in Provence in the south of France.
Shortly after September 11, 2001 he left Manhattan for Italy where he set up his studio first in Rome for a year and a half and then Florence for the next year and a half while working on large bronze figurative compositions for NYC and Washington DC. He returned to Dublin in 2004 to establish the Irish Academy of Figurative Art over three and a half years which he then entrusted to the remaining faculty and over 100 students. In late 2007 Mac Manus returned to Florence to develop a sacred art studio in the Monastery of San Marco where Beato Fra Angelico used to work and live (pictured above). While there he travelled to Rome once a fortnight to gain a Masters in Architecture, Art and Liturgy (2010) under l’Universita degli Studi Europea di Roma at the the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum. His studio was so successful that the Archbishop of Florence, Giuseppe Cardinal Betori asked Mac Manus during a visit to his studio to personally found a diocesan Sacred Art School – Firenze based on his studio practise, which started in 2011 (www.donymacmanusstudios.com). The artist left Florence in 2014 to develop Sacred Art Studios to work on large liturgical art commissions and has been working from his studio in Dublin since then.
Jonathan Anderson (PhD, King’s College London) is an artist, art critic, and postdoctoral associate of theology and the visual arts at Duke University. In addition to his studio practice, Anderson’s research and writing focuses on modern and contemporary art, with a particular interest in exploring its relations to religion and theology. He is the coauthor, with William Dyrness, of the book Modern Art and the Life of a Culture: The Religious Impulses of Modernism (2016), named one of the best books of 2016 by Image journal. His essays include the chapter-length entry on “Modern Art” in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion (2021), “The (In)visibility of Theology in Contemporary Art Criticism” (2014), and several other articles on the work of Francis Alÿs, John Cage, Rachel Whiteread, Kris Martin, and others.