Alice von Hildebrand, In Defence of Feelings

(click here for article)

My notes:

  • Hildebrand challenges the view on the negativity surrounding feelings.
  • We have:
    • bodily feelings (pleasure, pain, etc)
    • psychic feelings (jolliness after getting drunk), and
    • spiritual feelings – affective responses that persons alone can give to objects.
  • true affectivity – the type of affectivity that we find in the God-man, in the Holy Virgin, and in the saints and mystics.
  • Man’s feelings, reasons, and free will have ALL fallen victim to man’s revolt against God.
  • Book VIII of St. Augustine’s Confessions is the most important document that we possess on the subject of feelings apart from the Bible. Augustine’s mind was convinced of the truth of Catholicism; his will still resisted until finally he was joyfully defeated by grace. This is true freedom: our free will conquered by grace.
  • Our free will should sanction our valid feelings, feelings of mercy, compassion, gratitude, tenderness, contrition, and love.
  • We cab and should also disavow our evil feelings. There is also a great deal that we can do indirectly. The movies that we watch, the books that we read, the people whom we see – all these experiences will affect our emotional life.
  • Noble feelings in man’s soul – feelings that not only totally transcend the animal realm but are the finest blossoms of spiritual life.
  • There should be a marriage between appropriate spiritual feelings and our will.
  • The heart = tabernacle of spiritual feelings.


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