American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 91, Issue 4, Fall 2017

Dietrich von Hildebrand

M. T. Lu
Pages 703-717

Love, Freedom, and Morality in Kant and Dietrich von Hildebrand

Modern commentators like Allen Wood have noted that for Kant there “is a basic tension in human nature between loving people and respecting them.” Love is a threat to pure morality insofar as love is an empirical inclination and any will determined by such an inclination is unfree. In this paper, I begin by exploring why Kant thinks that love is a threat to moral freedom. Drawing on the insights of Dietrich von Hildebrand, I propose instead an analysis of love as “value-response.” I argue that a more complete phenomenological analysis of the nature of human affectivity (as fundamentally intentional and responsive) exposes a serious defect in Kant’s moral psychology, particularly his unreasonable denial of the compatibility of higher-order affectivity and human freedom. Drawing on von Hildebrand’s notion of “cooperative freedom,” I argue that not only is a higher-order spiritual affectivity compatible with freedom and morality, but it is essential to it.