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The Eclipse and Recovery of Beauty

The Eclipse and Recovery of Beauty: A Lonergan Approach

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The Eclipse and Recovery of Beauty
    Book Description:

    Deeply engaged with the work of Aquinas, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Kant, among others,The Eclipse and Recovery ofBeautywill be essential reading for those interested in contemporary philosophy and theology.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6731-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    “Beauty saves the world.” This phrase from Dostoevsky’sThe Idiotcontains an extremely important albeit neglected diagnosis and prescription for our contemporary world – the loss of beauty and its recovery. Taking the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar as a lead, one can conclude that such a loss leads to a world riddled with scepticism, moral and aesthetic relativism, a fragmentation of knowledge splintered into specialized disciplines, conflicting religious worldviews and, one could also include, escalating ecological crises. These consequences are what make Bathasar’s diagnosis of the eclipse of beauty prophetic and extremely relevant to our current theological and philosophical...

  6. 1 The Eclipse of Beauty and Its Recovery
    (pp. 9-28)

    If we are going to take Balthasar’s diagnosis of the loss of beauty as a context, several questions arise that need to be addressed in this chapter: (1) Has there been a time when the philosophical foundations for a pleasing synthesis of the transcendentals (including beauty) existed? (2) Where, more precisely, at least in modern times, did we “lose” beauty? (3) What are some of the conditions for the philosophical recovery of beauty in our current situation? (4) How will such a philosophical recovery be attempted in this work?

    In regard to the first question, we note that Balthasar devotes...

  7. 2 Every Being Is Beautiful
    (pp. 29-54)

    In this chapter I will conduct a brief survey of the emergence of the doctrine of the transcendentals, examine some questions concerning a Thomistic interpretation of beauty, and then present an overview of Aquinas’s thought on beauty. This chapter provides a context for a transposed philosophy of Aquinas in light of Lonergan’s engagement and response to modern philosophical trends. Therefore, I conclude by examining some comments on transcendental beauty made by Lonergan.

    Balthasar is convinced that beauty is a transcendental property of being and that Aquinas’s philosophy is a significant development of this doctrine. Balthasar is specifically indebted to Franz...

  8. 3 Violence and the Loss of Beauty
    (pp. 55-76)

    As we saw in the introduction to this book, for Balthasar the loss of one transcendental leads to the loss of them all. Inevitably this leads him to ask, “What will happen to Being itself?” (GL, I, 18–19). Although Balthasar does not elaborate on this, it is possible to flesh out the destructive implications for the loss of transcendental beauty. In this chapter we explore these implications in terms of the perpetuation of violence that is related to the loss of beauty through its displacement and distortion. We will emphasize this with reference to Nietzsche’s aesthetics through the critique...

  9. 4 Recovering Beauty in the Subject
    (pp. 77-99)

    The recovery of beauty as a transcendental property of being will be inextricably linked to the recovery of beauty in the human subject, specifically within human intentional consciousness. According to Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Søren Kierkegaard is partly to blame for the loss of beauty in the modern era. At times Balthasar’s rhetoric is pointed: “What right has this Protestant tearing apart of the aesthetic and the ethical-religious dimensions, appealing to a sense of tragedy, to exist in our domain, which is the domain of Augustine, of Dante, of Fra Angelico, of Mozart?”¹ A loss of beauty in the subject...

  10. 5 The End of Aesthetic Experience?
    (pp. 100-130)

    I am endeavouring to transpose a philosophy for a theology of beauty for a third stage of meaning by incorporating the philosophy of Bernard Lonergan. As noted previously, in many ways I am following a path clearly delineated by Armand Maurer in his bookAbout Beauty: A Thomistic Interpretation.Maurer eschews those Thomistic scholars who conclude that Thomas did not take beauty to be a transcendental property of being. By contrast, Maurer takes the existence of beauty as a starting point and proceeds to offer a clear overview of Aquinas’s philosophy of beauty. I proceed in a similar manner to...

  11. 6 The Intelligibility of Beauty
    (pp. 131-149)

    In this chapter we will explore the nature of beauty, using the second level of Lonergan’s theory of consciousness as a hermeneutic guide, not only in order to delimit our discussion, but also to prepare for a fuller discussion of aesthetic judgments in the next chapter. Specifically, I address how beauty would be conceived in Lonergan’s philosophy at the second level of operations, understanding. Recall from chapter 1 that this level pertains to intelligibility. In other words, what is grasped in the act of understanding is the intelligible unity in the data or the relations among the data. I will...

  12. 7 Judgments of Beauty
    (pp. 150-180)

    Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Or, more precisely, is itjustin the eye of the beholder? This common-sense adage permeates much of Western thinking about beauty. Philosophically, it reflects a relativism that has seeped into aesthetics and contributed to the loss of beauty. Indeed, it is not unusual these days to find a book on aesthetics that neglects the topic of beauty altogether, as aesthetics has been reduced to sense perception.

    In this chapter we will bring Lonergan’s theory of judgment to bear upon aesthetic judgments of beauty. This will entail asking the question: How can...

  13. 8 Creating, Contemplating, and Loving Beauty
    (pp. 181-203)

    Human beings need the surplus of meaning provided by beautiful nature, art, andle joie de vivrein order to expose them to more than just the ordinary business of everyday living. Hence, human beings create and contemplate beauty.

    In this chapter I will identify the various ways in which beauty pertains to the fourth-level operation, decision – the creation of and contemplation of aesthetic meaning. First I will identify an aesthetic/dramatic impulse in the human spirit that seeks to create and contemplate beauty. I will then flesh out how that desire for beauty in its creative aspect manifests in works...

  14. 9 Philosophy for a Theology of Beauty
    (pp. 204-214)

    If beauty is to save our world, as Dostoevsky suggests, we must recover it. In the previous chapters we have been trying to work out a philosophical framework for recovering beauty in a context described by H.G. Gadamer as dominated by a post-Kantian subjectivization of aesthetics. We have been arguing for Lonergan’s contribution because he reckons with the turn to the subject by completing and correcting it, as summarized in his tag “objectivity is the fruit of authentic subjectivity.” It remains for us to summarize briefly what we have been up to and then to conclude with some suggestions of...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 215-238)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 239-248)
  17. Index
    (pp. 249-255)