American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 91, Issue 4, Fall 2017

Dietrich von Hildebrand

Robert Lee Miller
Pages 589-605

The Religious Significance of von Hildebrand’s Notion of Second Order Beauty

In his Aesthetics, Dietrich von Hildebrand analyzes an interesting form of beauty adhering to audible and visible things that he calls second order beauty. In this paper, I will attempt to develop something which von Hildebrand recognizes, but which he himself does not fully develop: the religious significance of second order beauty. In particular, I wish to show that an aesthetic experience of this second order beauty can engender an encounter with God not in the “abstract,” but rather as a concrete, individual, living person.