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Rome Conference - Spring 2010
About the Conference

The Christian Personalism of Dietrich von Hildebrand:
Exploring His Philosophy of Love

Convened by the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project
in collaboration with the the School of Philosophy of the
Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
School of Philosophy
Piazza di Sant'Apollinare, 49
00186 Roma, Italy

Rome, May 27-29, 2010

In recent years we have seen a renaissance of interest in the thought and personality of Dietrich von Hildebrand. This re-emergence of a great intellectual, cultural, and spiritual legacy is in part the fruit of The Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project. Established in 2004, the Legacy Project exists not only to translate and publish the writings of von Hildebrand in English, but also to undertake initiatives that facilitate the wider reception of his many contributions.

The Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project is now convening an international conference in Rome for the purpose of initiating the critical reception of Dietrich von Hildebrand's great work, The Nature of Love, published in 2009 for the first time in English translation. 

We entitle our conference, The Christian Personalism of Dietrich von Hildebrand: Exploring His Philosophy of Love, because we want our study of his treatise on love to stand in the service of what he once called “the struggle for the person.” We want our discussions about love to lead us back to questions about the dignity and destiny of the human person, and especially about the capacity of the human person to encounter the other by making a gift of self to the other. We are organizing the conference on the assumption that one cannot make sense of the human person apart from his or her capacity for loving and being loved.

Our conference will be interdisciplinary. Though von Hildebrand was in the first place a philosopher, he was also a man of faith, and so it is only natural for theologians to join the philosophers at our conference. As a gifted phenomenologist of the human spirit, von Hildebrand also has something important to say to those working in psychology and counseling. There are also powerful and suggestive themes in von Hildebrand for those rooted in the creative imagination, whether in literature and poetry or even in the performing arts. And persons who work to bring into the public square the truth about love and about man and woman will find in von Hildebrand’s work on love an invaluable resource.

Though we convene this conference in a spirit of profound respect and gratitude for the master, we in no way mean to offer an uncritical celebration of his ideas. Conference participants, hopefully representing various philosophical and theological positions, are invited to enter into a lively engagement and debate with von Hildebrand's work. Without such debate our conference would not be fully philosophical and therefore would not be in the spirit of von Hildebrand himself. Our deliberations should be guided by the same quest for truth which is the golden thread of von Hildebrand's thought and personality.

Overview of The Nature of Love
An applicant looking for an overview of
The Nature of Love should look at the Introductory Study by John F. Crosby, found at the beginning of the text. To request Crosby's Introductory Study click here.

Potential Topics for a Submission
Here are some of the topics that might be addressed by those submitting a paper for the conference; a speaker might:

  • Set von Hildebrand’s account of love in relation to the radically other-centered conception of love in Levinas
  • Examine critically his account of the difference between eros and agape
  • Examine von Hildebrand’s account of love as self-gift from the point of view of other philosophies or theologies of gift
  • Try to make von Hildebrand’s philosophy of love fruitful for the understanding of God’s love for human beings, engaging in discussion authors such as Nygren
  • Examine critically von Hildebrand’s strong stress on the affective character of love
  • Examine his claim that the love between man and woman is the paradigmatic human love
  • Draw out the implications of von Hildebrand’s philosophy of love for different social issues
  • Also welcome would be papers setting von Hildebrand’s work on love in relation to the major thinkers on love in Western philosophy, such as Plato, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, to name a few.

Overview of The Nature of Love:
Request Introductory Study