The Personalist Project

This afternoon Jules pointed out these lines from Martha Nussbaum's book, The Therapy of Desire.

Philosophy heals human diseases, diseases produced by false beliefs. Its arguments are to the soul as the doctor's remedies are to the body. They can heal, and they are to be evaluated in terms of their power to heal.

It rings true to me, at least to a point. Philosophy can't save us from sin and death.  No matter how true it is, no philosophy can win us eternal life. But errors in our thinking do more than just darken and constrict the mind, they burden the soul.  Good philosophy doesn't merely sharpen the intelligence, it relieves the soul of distress.

To give an example from my own experience: Before I found von Hildebrand, I had been taught to mistrust my feelings, and to think I was responsible to control them through my willpower.  To learn from him that there are different kinds and levels of feelings, and that the deepest and most important are supremely rational, was to be liberated from real tension and confusion about myself and my experience.  Now instead of using my will in a hopeless and back-firing effort to stifle and manipulate my feelings, I was using my intelligence to discern them—to separate the valid from the invalid, the ordered from the disordered, the properly spiritual from the merely sensational, etc.  

For this reason, from almost the first hour I discovered it, I have wished von Hildebrand's philosophy, in particular, were better-known among psychologists. 

So, I was thrilled to find through a facebook friend the other day a link to an essay over at the New Existentialism laying out some of von Hildebrand's key insights on love.  May it be a harbinger of a new wave coming!

Comments (7)

Patrick Dunn

#1, Jan 22, 2013 10:55am

Thank you for this.  I too want to be liberated from real tension and confusion about myself and my experience by learning how to understand my own feelings.

Is there a particular work of von Hildebrand's that would be helpful in this regard?

Katie van Schaijik

#2, Jan 22, 2013 12:20pm

Yes!  The Heart.  

Patrick Dunn

#3, Jan 22, 2013 4:02pm

Thank you.

On a somewhat separate note, would it be possible for me to email you privately to perhaps seek a bit of advice?  It is related to an article you wrote ( that I read and have been thinking about.

Katie van Schaijik

#4, Jan 22, 2013 4:11pm

Yes, of course.  If you email the PP, it'll come to me and Jules both.  If you prefer to email just me, send an innocuous note to the PP, and I'll reply so you have my address.

Patrick Dunn

#5, Jan 23, 2013 9:59am

Thank you very much.  May I have the email for the PP?

Katie van Schaijik

#6, Jan 23, 2013 10:10am

You mean there's no "contact us" button?!  I will have to ask jules to fix that.

Patrick Dunn

#7, Jan 23, 2013 10:13am

Well, there is a contact form, but it went through the website.  I didn't see where just an email address was listed so as to contact the PP from email to email.

Regardless, thank you again.

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