American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 91, Issue 4, Fall 2017

Dietrich von Hildebrand

His Eminence John Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamon
Pages 553-566

An Ontology of Love
A Patristic Reading of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s The Nature of Love

Dietrich von Hildebrand’s treatise The Nature of Love is set in relation to the theological personalism of the Cappadocian fathers of the Church, and to my own earlier work done in this tradition. Several points of divergence are explored, especially points concerning von Hildebrand’s claim that love exists as a response to the beauty of the beloved person. God’s love for human beings does not always seem to fit the paradigm of value-response; His love seems to be creative of beauty in us rather than to respond to already existing beauty. But at the same time, the deep kinship of von Hildebrand’s personalism with that of the Cappadocian fathers is stressed; he is at one with them in affirming the heart as distinct from the intellect, in affirming love as the supreme act of the person, and in affirming the place of beauty in the existence of persons.