“Hildebrand’s thinking deserves the greatest attention from philosophers today…his fine observations will surely stimulate a discussion of which we are all greatly in need.” — Sir Roger Scruton
“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.” — James K. A. Smith
“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 Barron
“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 Honeck
Written in the early 1970s during the last years of his life, as if harvesting a lifetime of reflection, Dietrich von Hildebrand’s Aesthetics is a uniquely encompassing work.The first volume develops an original theory of the beautiful, and the second applies that theory with tremendous breadth and attention to the various types of artwork and to many of the world’s most beloved works of art.
It is a testament to the work’s broad significance that two of the most respected voices in contemporary aesthetics have joined together to offer forewords to each volume: Dana Gioia to Volume I, and Sir Roger Scruton to Volume II.
Sir Roger Scruton writes on Volume II: “In this second volume of his treatise on the subject Hildebrand assembles the results of a lifetime’s thought about the arts, and expresses his devotion to beauty in terms that the reader will find immediately engaging.”
He continues: “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.”
Dietrich von Hildebrand’s Aesthetics occupies a place in the great philosophical aesthetic tradition of Plato, Kant, and Hegel, while incorporating the fresh and fundamental insights of phenomenology. With this publication of the first English translation, Dietrich von Hildebrand becomes a contemporary spokesman and defender of the importance of beauty and aesthetic values at a time when many think that beauty is relative and art unnecessary.