Sunday, September 9, 2007

Dietrich von Hildebrand - Published Works

Transformation in Christ: On the Christian Attitude
Ignatius Press; New Ed edition (August 2001)

Recognized as a modern spiritual classic and perhaps Dietrich von Hildebrand's greatest work, this sublime and practical study gives a penetrating analysis of the true path to holiness for those who love Christ. The first requisite is the person's desire for change, and with that fundamental attitude in mind, von Hildebrand devotes a chapter to each of the successive spiritual attitudes necessary for those who strive for Christian perfection. The Beatitudes are treated with beauty and depth in an uncompromising challenge to every serious Christian to put into practice these teachings of Christ.
The Heart: An Analysis of Human and Divine Affectivity
Edited by John Henry Crosby; Preface by John Haldane; Introduction by John F. Crosby; Edmund Husserl on Dietrich von Hildebrand.
St. Augustines Press; New Ed edition (April 20, 2007)

This new edition of The Heart (out of print for nearly 30 years) is the flagship volume in a series of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s works to be published by St. Augustine’s Press in collaboration with the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project. Founded in 2004, the Legacy Project ( exists in the first place to translate the many German writings of von Hildebrand into English.

While many revere von Hildebrand as a religious author, few realize that he was a philosopher of great stature and importance. Those who knew von Hildebrand as philosopher held him in the highest esteem. Louis Bouyer, for example, once said that “von Hildebrand was the most important Catholic philosopher in Europe between the two world wars.” Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger expressed even greater esteem when he said: “I am personally convinced that, when, at some time in the future, the intellectual history of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century is written, the name of Dietrich von Hildebrand will be most prominent among the figures of our time.”

The Heart is an accessible yet important philosophical contribution to the understanding of the human person. In this work von Hildebrand is concerned with rehabilitating the affective life of the human person. He thinks that for too long philosophers have held it in suspicion and thought of it as embedded in the body and hence as being much inferior to intellect and will. In reality, he argues, the heart, the center of affectivity, has many different levels, including an eminently personal level; at this level affectivity is just as important a form of personal life as intellect and will. Von Hildebrand develops the idea that properly personal affectivity, far than tending away from an objective relation to being, is in fact one major way in which we transcend ourselves and give being its due. Von Hildebrand also developed the important idea that the heart “in many respects is more the real self of the person than his intellect or will.”

At the same time, the author shows full realism about the possible deformities of affective life; he offers rich analyses of what he calls affective atrophy and affective hypertrophy. The second half of The Heart offers a remarkable analysis of the affectivity of the God-Man.

Organizations devoted to Dietrich von Hildebrand

  • Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project Franciscan University of Steubenville. "Established in 2004, exists to encourage and stimulate this renewal, primarily by translating and publishing the writings of von Hildebrand in English, but also through sponsoring regular events to facilitate the wider reception of his many contributions."
    Von Hildebrand's Voice of Reason Interview With Founder John H. Crosby, of Legacy Project. Zenit News Service. June 13, 2007.

Excerpts from Books by Dietrich von Hildebrand

Introductions and Articles on Dietrich von Hildebrand

The Roman Forum - founded by Dietrich von Hildebrand

Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977), the son of the renowned German sculptor, Adolph von Hildebrand, was born in Florence and taught philosophy at the Universities of Munich and Vienna in Europe, and then at Fordham University in New York City. Pius XII referred to him as "the twentieth-century Doctor of the Church." Dr. von Hildebrand‘s whole life was dedicated to philosophy and to the arts, in the context of a deep love for the truth of the Catholic Faith.

In 1968, Professor von Hildebrand founded the Roman Forum in order to defend the official Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. His successor was the much beloved Dr. William Marra, also of Fordham University, active on radio, television, and lecture programs throughout the United States and Europe. In 1991, he was followed by the current Director, Dr. John C. Rao, D. Phil. in Modern European History from Oxford University, and Associate Professor of History at St. John's University in New York City.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the modern world has been the presumption of unavoidable warfare between nature and religion. Naturalists look upon the introduction of religious ideas into daily life as a death sentence for individual freedom and social progress. Many people with religious convictions are suspicious of the world around them, and consider any interest in nature and human achievement to be an impossible obstacle to spiritual growth. The results, taken together, have been disastrous: "culture" that lacks both transcendence and depth; one dimensional religious perceptions; flatness, boredom, lack of poetry and purpose in all aspects of life.

A second modern tragedy has been the compartmentalization of existence. Many theologians know no philosophy; most scientists, no theology; many experts in abstract intellectual studies, little about the fine arts; most artists, or, for that matter, most people in general, nothing of the need to root themselves in the permanent things. Almost no one can place his field of study or his daily actions within an historical context. Men work at counter purposes and gain little for their efforts but a vision of shadows on the back wall of the cave of modernity.

The Roman Forum has sought to respond to this tragic situation through an active defense of the one force that can pull all of the aspects of nature and the supernatural together: Roman Catholicism. By 1991, however, it realized that to do so, it had to give the educated Catholic a deeper understanding and appreciation of the way in which they could work harmoniously together than it had been providing in its ordinary lectures and conferences. The Forum saw that it had to dedicate itself to a teaching of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful—one that ignored neither thhe particular nor the whole picture of knowledge, the arts, and life in general—more systematically than it had been doing, and within a more structured historical framework. It recognized that at least part of this systematic, historically-focused training had to be given in an environment more congenial to the Catholic love of 3Truth and Beauty than an America which is Protestant in its origins and secularized in its contemporary practices and beliefs. Hence, the foundation of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Institute.

The Institute was inaugurated on February 23rd, 1992, the Solemnity of the Chair of Saint Peter in Antioch (now the Institute's patronal feast), with a Solemn Pontifical Traditional Mass celebrated by His Eminence, Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler, former Prefect of the Vatican Library.