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Personalism versus totalitarianism: Dietrich von hildebrand’s philosophical-political project

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Abstract

The following article is an attempt at the reconstruction of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s political project rooted in Christian personalism, intended as an antidote to the evils of totalitarianism. A brilliant philosophical analysis of this subject was given by Josef Seifert in his seminal article “Personalistische Philosophie und der Widerstand gegen Hitler. Zum Kampf Dietrich von Hildebrands gegen den Nationalsozialismus, seine Ideologie und seinen rassistischen Antisemitismus”1, to which I am greatly indebted. Since Hildebrand’s project was highly conditioned by the particular historical circumstances shaping the political situation in Europe in 1930’s, my modest contribution is meant to put his philosophical and religious crusade against National Socialism (and Bolshevism) in the context of his attitude towards the German nation, towards democracy, authoritarianism, monarchism and socialism in Austria, as well as towards Fascism in Italy. I will also aspire to identify the philosophical elements of Hildebrand’s vision which preserve the lasting value.

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Article
One of the biggest threats to the dignity of the human person which characterizes today’s thinking is the reduction of the human person to one constitutive aspect: the body, subjectivity, relationality, and the like. Based on the philosophy of Dietrich von Hildebrand, the paper demonstrates how six false dichotomies of a similar kind are resolved, namely: spirit and body, substance and relation, subjectivity and objectivity, Eigenleben and transcendence, affectivity and rationality, gift and freedom.
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