American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 91, Issue 4, Fall 2017

Dietrich von Hildebrand

Josef Seifert
Pages 737-745

Human Action and the Human Heart
A Critique of an Error in Hildebrand’s Ethics, Philosophical Anthropology, and Philosophy of Love

Hildebrand oftentimes said that his disciples—even when they believed they were deeply indebted to him for knowledge, wisdom, and truth—had a duty to criticize and overcome any error they would find in his philosophy, because the sole purpose of his writings was to state the truth. He himself gave some extraordinary examples of self-critique. In the following, I wish to treat such an example: a significant error about the nature of the free volitional response, which Stephen Schwarz was the first to note and which Hildebrand himself later explicitly revoked. Furthermore, I wish to show that Hildebrand’s rejecting this error makes his ethics as a whole much more consistent, and opens the way to bringing his philosophy of love closer to our experience.