The Review of Metaphysics

Volume 73, Issue 2, December 2019

Mark K. Spencer
Pages 311-334

Beauty and Being in von Hildebrand and the Aristotelian Tradition

In his Aesthetics, Dietrich von Hildebrand makes a number of metaphysical claims, which are important especially insofar as they develop scholastic metaphysics and further its antireductionistic tendencies. In this paper, the author synthesizes what Hildebrand says in various places about the metaphysics of aesthetic entities, aesthetic values, appearances, atmospheres, and the overall beauty of a being. Each of these is irreducible to the items posited by traditional scholastic and Aristotelian metaphysics, such as natural substance, moral substance, accident, essence, act of existence, form, matter, and so forth. The author then argues that Hildebrand’s novel metaphysics of aesthetic items can be used to help recover the full meaning of certain ideas put forward by Aristotle, and developed by later thinkers like Gregory Palamas, especially the ideas of the kalon and of energeiai.