Volume 91, Issue 4, Fall 2017
Dietrich von Hildebrand
M. T. Lu
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.