September 30, 2019
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v2.1 Reference

The Moral Philosophy of Dietrich von Hildebrand

What are values? How do we come to know them? How are values related to morality? How is it possible to act against ones better knowledge? How can one become blind to values? How important is requited love for human happiness? These are just some of the questions to which Dietrich von Hildebrand offers profound and original responses. He arrives at these answers not primarily by a critical discussion of other thinkers (classical or modern) but by turning to the "things themselves", that is, to the reality of moral life. Von Hildebrand's keen sense for categorization, crucial distinctions, and systematic philosophizing does not reduce the rich and complex sphere of moral phenomena to a few abstract principles or rules. On the contrary, it allows the reader of his works to see the moral data with new clarity and explicitness.

Although von Hildebrands importance as an early phenomenologist and a moral philosopher has been generally recognized for decades, his thought has never been the study of much scholarly work. The Moral Philosophy of Dietrich von Hildebrand is the first full-fledged monograph on von Hildebrand's moral philosophy available to date. Despite this pioneering effort, its aim is not to treat all the themes belonging to this area with equal depth and breadth. Rather, it focuses on the themes indicated by the aforementioned questions and relates them according to their inner systematic links rather than according to how and when they appear in von Hildebrand's works. It also engages von Hildebrand in a critical dialogue, particularly with the ethics of Plato and Aristotle. This book will serve as a very good introduction not just to von Hildebrands moral philosophy but to his thought in general.

About the Author

Martin Cajthaml is associate professor of philosophy and patrology, Palacky University Olomouc, Czech Republic. Vlastimil Vohanka is assistant professor of philosophy, Palacky University Olomouc.


"The most comprehensive presentation of von Hildebrand's moral philosophy known to me. Takes into consideration all of von Hildebrand's published writings on ethics as well as a number of unpublished manuscripts. The scholarship is impeccable."—Fritz Wenisch, University of Rhode Island

"A remarkable and sorely needed contribution to Hildebrand scholarship. It not only draws vital connections with Kant, Brentano, and Scheler but offers incisive analysis of 'the intrinsically important' (values) vs. 'the merely subjectively satisfying,' akrasia, value blindness, love and happiness. It is especially remarkable for placing Hildebrand in dialogue with Plato and Aristotle and discovering links to von Hildebrand's idea of value-response in Aristotle's treatment of friendship."—Philip Blosser, Sacred Heart Major Seminary

"A comprehensive presentation of von Hildebrand's moral philosophy that situates it in the history of phenomenology and more broadly in the history of philosophy. In the true spirit of realist phenomenology the authors not only tell us what von Hildebrand has thought but go, with and through von Hildebrand to the things in themselves that are the proper object of philosophical investigation, entering into critical dialogue with von Hildebrand himself. Recommended to readers who want an introduction to von Hildebrand's philosophy as well as to senior scholars who may enter more deeply into the structure of von Hildebrand's philosophy."—Rocco Buttiglione, Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences

"In a precise and elegant literary style, Cajthaml and Vohanka offer not only a fair presentation of von Hildebrand's moral philosophy but also a guide – in an authentic phenomenological spirit – to 'the things in themselves,' confronting us with questions decisive for our moral lives."—Mariano Crespo, Universidad de Navarra

"It would be hard to find a better, clearer, and more philosophical introduction to Hildebrand's moral philosophy than this book. Hildebrand . . . presents what could be called the most positive and attractive vision of moral goodness in the history of ethics, a vision that Cajthaml and Vohánka share with the reader."—Josef M. Seifert , is former Dietrich von Hildebrand Chair of Realist Phenomenology at the International Academy of Philosophy

9780813232508 : the-moral-philosophy-of-dietrich-von-hildebrand-cajthaml
240 Pages
$65.00 USD

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