Dietrich von Hildebrand : a Catholic intellectual in the Weimar Republic
This thesis examines the intellectual activity of the German Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) during the Weimar Republic (1918-1933). It fills a gap both in the Hildebrand scholarship and the history of Weimar Catholicism. It examines Hildebrand as an intellectual (following Stefan Collini’s analytical concept), and argues that he can most adequately be described as a neo-conservative Catholic intellectual. Hildebrand was a profoundly religious person whose principal goal was the personal sanctification of educated Catholics through the renewal of the Catholic ethos. To this end he presented the Catholic worldview not in the form of neo-scholasticism as recently initiated by Pope Leo XIII, but in a new form. At the center of his novel presentation stood his Catholic personalism and his phenomenological value ethics. After an introductory chapter that outlines Hildebrand’s upbringing, formation, and education with an eye to his conversion to the Catholic faith in 1914, the thesis situates and analyzes Hildebrand in the context of the four main discourses that he participated in during the Weimar Republic: Chapter two examines Hildebrand’s contribution to the discourse on Siegkatholizismus, the confidence of Catholics to re- Christianize German and European culture after the First World War; chapter three examines Hildebrand’s novel justification of Catholic teaching in the discourse on the crisis of marriage and sexuality during the middle years of the Republic; chapter four engages his social thought and his views on the relation between person and community during the final period of Weimar Germany; and chapter five explores Hildebrand’s transnational activity against the background of a growing transformation of Catholic supranational identity through nationalism shortly before the Nazi takeover of power in 1933.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2022-11-09
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 9th November 2022
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