The Eclipse and Recovery of Beauty: A Lonergan Approach

The Eclipse and Recovery of Beauty: A Lonergan Approach

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By John D. Dadosky
Lonergan Studies
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2014
World Rights
272 Pages
ISBN 9781487522094
Published Mar 2017
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ISBN 9781442647114
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According to the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, a world that has lost sight of beauty is a world riddled with skepticism, moral and aesthetic relativism, conflicting religious worldviews, and escalating ecological crises. In The Eclipse and Recovery of Beauty, John D. Dadosky uses Kierkegaard and Nietzsche’s negative aesthetics to outline the context of that loss, and presents an argument for reclaiming beauty as a metaphysical property of being.

Inspired by Bernard Lonergan’s philosophy of consciousness, Dadosky presents a philosophy of beauty that is grounded in contemporary Thomistic thought. Responding to Balthasar, he argues for a concept of beauty that can be experienced, understood, judged, created, contemplated, and even loved.

Deeply engaged with the work of Aquinas, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Kant, among others, The Eclipse and Recovery of Beauty will be essential reading for those interested in contemporary philosophy and theology.

John D. Dadosky is an associate professor of philosophy and theology at Regis College at the University of Toronto.



1 The Eclipse of Beauty and Its Recovery

  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 The Achievement of Thomistic Metaphysics and its Demise
    • 1.2.1 A Post-Kantian Transposition of Thomistic Metaphysics
  • 1.3 Considerations for a Contemporary Philosophy of Beauty
  • 1.4 Lonergan’s Philosophy and Hermeneutics: A Brief Overview
  • 1.5 Conclusion

2 Every Being is Beautiful

  • 2.1 Beauty as a Transcendental Property of Being
    • 2.1.1 The Development of Transcendental Beauty
    • 2.1.2 Aquinas and Transcendental Beauty?
    • 2.1.3 The Fourth Period
  • 2.2 Beauty: A Thomistic Interpretation
    • 2.2.1 The Conditions of Beauty
    • 2.2.2 Further Questions
    • 2.2.3 Perception of Beauty
    • 2.2.4 Beauty and Art
  • 2.3. Beauty: A Lonergan Approach?

3 Violence and the Loss of Beauty

  • 3.1 Displacement and Distortion of Beauty
  • 3.2 Nietzsche’s Aesthetics
  • 3.3 Girard’s critique of Nietzsche
    • 3.3.1 Dionysus and the Crucified
    • 3.3.2 Culpability in the Collective Murder
    • 3.3.3 Dionysus as a Mimicked Distortion of Christ
  • 3.4 A Re-orientation of Nietzchean Aesthetics?
  • 3.5 Conclusion

4 Recovering Beauty in the Subject

  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Kierkegaard’s Spheres of Existence
  • 4.3 Balthasar’s Critique: A Closer Examination
  • 4.4 The Existential Spheres and Intentional Consciousness
  • 4.5 Conclusion

5 The End of Aesthetic Experience?

  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 The Loss of Aesthetic Experience
    • 5.2.1 Major Post-Kantian Approaches to Aesthetic Experience
    • 5.2.2 Shusterman: “The End of Aesthetic Experience”
  • 5.3 Lonergan and Aesthetic Experience
    • 5.3.1 The Unrestricted Desire for Beauty
    • 5.3.2 Freedom from Instrumentality
    • 5.3.3 Elemental Meaning
    • 5.3.4 Ulterior Significance and ‘Surplus of Meaning’
    • 5.3.5 Transformative and Distortive aspects of Aesthetic Experience
    • 5.3.6 Lonergan and Shusterman
  • 5.4 The Sensible and Intellectual Perception and Apprehension of Beauty
  • 5.5 Aesthetic Experience and the Sublime
    • 5.1 Brief History of the Sublime
    • 5.2 The Sublime as Experienced
  • 5.6 Conclusion

6 The Intelligibility of Beauty

  • 6.1 Introduction
  • 6.2 Beauty and Architecture: The example of Christopher Alexander
  • 6.2.1Alexander’s 15 principles
  • 6.2.2 Alexander’s principles and Aquinas
  • 6.3 The Intelligibility of Beauty in Lonergan’s Theory of Consciousness
  • 6.4 Conclusion

7 Judgments of Beauty

  • 7.1 Introduction
  • 7.2 Aesthetic Judgments in Kant
    • 7.2.1 Four Moments of Aesthetic Judgments
  • 7.3 Lonergan and Judgment
    • 7.3.1 ‘Value’ in Method in Theology
  • 7.4 Judging Beauty for Lonergan
    • 7.4.1 A Lonergan Appropriation of Kant’s Four Moments
    • 7.4.2 Beauty and the Preferential Scales of Values
    • 7.4.3 Three Moments of Beauty
    • 7.4.4 Is Beauty distinct from Goodness?
  • 7.5 Concluding Comments

8 Creating, Contemplating and Loving Beauty

  • 8.1 Introduction
  • 8.2 The Aesthetic/Dramatic Operator
  • 8.3 Philosophy of Art
    • 8.3.1Aesthetic and Artistic patterns of experience
    • 8.3.2 Art as Meaning
    • 8.3.3Developing Lonergan on Art
    • 8.3.4 Summing up: Lonergan on Art
  • 8.4 Life and Beauty
    • 8.4.1Ethical living
  • 8.5 Contemplating Beauty
  • 8.6 Loving Beauty
  • 8.7 Beauty and God
    • 7.1 From Aesthetic Experience to the Beauty of God
  • 8.8 Conclusion

9 Philosophy for a Theology of Beauty

  • 9.1 Introduction
  • 9.2 A Summary and Overview
  • 9.3 Towards a Theology of Beauty
  • 9.4 Conclusion
“What is most impressive about The Eclipse and Recovery of Beauty is the fact that it is the first book to mine the thought of Lonergan and a few of his students for the contributions they might make to a philosophical and (ultimately) theological aesthetics. Dadosky is creative in his discovery of the implications of Lonergan’s thinking for a renewed emphasis on the transcendental ‘beauty.’”

Robert M. Doran, Emmett Doerr Chair in Systematic Theology, Marquette University

"…Dadosky’s effort to work out a philosophy of beauty on the basis of Lonergan’s thought, to enter into dialogue with significant figures, and to re-establish the transcendental status of beauty in a contemporary context amounts to an original and momentous achievement."

Paul St. Amour, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

"Within the boundaries of the wider Lonergan project, Dadosky’s argument is nuanced, differentiated, and, so far as I can discern, beyond reproach…students of theological aesthetics in particular will profit from the expositions and arguments he offers therein. The Eclipse and Recovery of Beauty is harmonious, well-integrated, and very clear. That is, in the specific terms Dadosky designates, it is a beautiful piece of work."

Reid B. Locklin, Toronto Journal of Theology

"John Dadosky has written a very good book on an overlooked, but important, topic… Using the tools of Lonergan’s generalized empirical method, Dadosky has made the case for the objectivity of aesthetic judgments and by extension for the recovery of beauty as a transcendental… The result is a beautifully written book that’s hints at much more to come from this author."

Michael Shute, Studies in Religion