Volume 85, Issue 2, Spring 2011
D. C. Schindler
Beauty and the Analogy of Truth
On the Order of the Transcendentals in Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Trilogy
This paper offers a philosophical argument for the “fittingness” of the unusual order in which Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Trilogy articulates the transcendental
properties of being: first beauty, then goodness, then truth. It begins with a presentation of the order Aquinas gives in De veritate, qu. 1, art. 1, in which truth
follows upon being and then goodness follows upon truth insofar as cognition for Aquinas precedes desire. The paper then explains the significance of the primacy Balthasar gives to beauty, in contrast to Aquinas, and how this primacy entails an interpretation of truth as the final fruit of the soul’s engagement with reality under the aspect of goodness. It is precisely the conception of truth that emerges as the final transcendental, rather than the first, that serves to open the human horizon to biblical theology, which is one of the ultimate aims of the Trilogy.