Reading Group: Nature of Love pt. II

A four week reading group through the Nature of Love with Derek Jefferys. This group is a continuation of Nature of Love I reading group. Participants must have already completed a four-week reading group through the Nature of Love to register.

The group will meet via Zoom on Thursdays (Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 11, 2021) from 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EDT.


Virtual Format

The meeting will be conducted live in Zoom. Links for the sessions will be sent out ahead of time.

To allow for rich discussion, the group is limited in size to a maximum of 20 participants. Once the group is full, additional registrations will be placed on a waitlist.

About the Text

Early on Dietrich von Hildebrand distinguished himself as a thinker with an unusual understanding of human love. His books in the 1920s on man and woman broke new ground and stirred up fruitful controversy. Toward the end of his life he wrote a foundational book on love, The Nature of Love. He had in fact been preparing all his life to write this work; he was so drawn to the philosophical analysis of love that his students long ago had dubbed him doctor amoris, the doctor of love. This great work, the mature fruit of von Hildebrand’s genius, is now available for the first time in English, ably translated and introduced by the philosopher John F. Crosby, who had been a student of von Hildebrand.

The Nature of Love is a masterpiece of phenomenological investigation. Not since Max Scheler’s work on love have the resources of phenomenology been so fruitfully employed for the understanding of what love is and what it is not.

Previously von Hildebrand had distinguished himself mainly in the area of moral philosophy, but in this study on love a new side of his thought emerges. Von Hildebrand is here led into areas of personal subjectivity that he did not have the occasion to explore in his ethical writings. In a most original way he shows that the desire to be loved by the person whom one loves has nothing to do with selfishness; he shows that this desire to be loved and so to be united with the other person is itself a kind of self-donation to the other. Thus von Hildebrand resists the altruism that claims that one is selfless toward the beloved person only by willing the good of the other in such a way as to be indifferent to being loved in return. On the other hand, he equally resists the claim that the happiness of the one who loves is the primary motive of love. Von Hildebrand indicates the radically other-centered direction of love, while avoiding the pitfall of a depersonalized altruism. Thus he does justice both to the extraordinary self-transcendence of love as well as to subjectivity of love. This work constitutes a major contribution to the Christian personalism that von Hildebrand represents.

About the Facilitator

Derek S. Jeffreys is a professor of Humanities and Religion at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. He teaches courses in the humanities, ethics and the philosophy of religion. His research focuses on personalism and violence, with a particular emphasis on punishment and incarceration. He is author of Defending Human Dignity: John Paul II and Political Realism (Brazos Press, 2004), Spirituality and the Ethics of Torture (Palgrave, 2009), Spirituality in Dark Places: The Ethics of Solitary Confinement (Palgrave, 2013), and America’s Jails: The Search for Human Dignity in an Age of Mass Incarceration (NYU Press, 2018). He is currently working on issues related to love and mental illness in penal institutions.


Four Sessions


Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 4, & Nov 11, 2021


7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EDT


Suitable for beginner and intermediate: primarily discussion

Reading Selection:

Week One: Chapter 10, “Happiness and Love”
Week Two: Chapter 11, “Caritas”
Week Three: Chapter 12, “Love and Morality”
Week Four: Chapter 14, “Ordo Amoris”

To Attend: