Dietrich von Hildebrand

In Thomas Szanto & Hilge Landweer (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Emotion. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 114-122 (2020)
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It is sometimes alleged that the study of emotion and the study of value are currently pursued as relatively autonomous disciplines. As Kevin Mulligan notes, “the philosophy and psychology of emotions pays little attention to the philosophy of value and the latter pays only a little more attention to the former.” (2010b, 475). Arguably, the last decade has seen more of a rapprochement between these two domains than used to be the norm (cf. e.g. Roeser & Todd 2014). But there still seems to be considerable potential for exchange and dialogue if the situation is compared with their intimate relationship in central strands of early realist phenomenology. The philosopher perhaps most representative of this ecumenical approach is Husserl’s early student Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977). From the very early stages of his philosophical career, Hildebrand has developed one of the most original, comprehensive and nuanced accounts of emotions at whose core is a detailed examination of their connection to value. While his central concern with the ethical significance of our affective life is in many ways continuous with Scheler’s work and draws crucially on Reinach’s philosophy of mind, Hildebrand’s own reflections considerably expand on and substantially modify the picture of the ontology and normative role of emotions defended by these authors. In this article, I reconstruct Hildebrand’s view of emotions with a particular focus on those aspects which represent his most distinctive contribution to this subject.
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