In Defense of Purity



“In Defense of Purity is one of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s smaller works, yet for this very reason it became a jewel in the hands of this master of thought and word.”

 – Leo Cardinal Scheffczyk


"No work that I am aware of offers a more fundamental and penetrating treatment of the great and beautiful and neglected virtue of purity. May it once again find a receptive audience."

 – Alice von Hildebrand

A probing meditation on the nature, value, and beauty of purity, In Defense of Purity is not a book of sexual ethics, nor a “how-to” guide to purity—but for readers with open minds and hearts, the book promises to be transformative.  

When Dietrich von Hildebrand converted to Catholicism in 1914, he was surprised to find that, despite an abundance of books on the dangers of impurity, there were practically none on the positive values of purity. “So,” writes Alice von Hildebrand, widow of Dietrich, in a new foreword to the book: “this is what he set out to do in In Defense of Purity: to explore purity as a positive reality and only in light of its beauty to describe its contrary.”

First published in 1927, In Defense of Purity anticipates many of the most pressing social issues of our day. Hildebrand’s vision of the human person offers an antidote to a contemporary attitude that treats the body as a mere object and fails to appreciate its integral unity with the person. In Defense of Purity has influenced thinkers like Karol Wojtyla/Pope John Paul II, whose own Love and Responsibility and Theology of the Body share and build upon many of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s insights.

This new edition stands to influence a new generation of readers, looking for enduring answers to the perennial questions about human life and love. In Defense of Purity cuts through the current debates to offer a fundamental view of the very essence and meaning of purity. Hildebrand’s insights on love, marriage, virginity, and sexuality offer fresh wisdom to people in any stage of life, from first dates, to religious vows, to golden anniversaries.

Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) was a philosopher known for his seminal works in ethics, aesthetics, social philosophy, and philosophy of religion. He was one of Europe’s most outspoken voices against Nazism and Communism. A convert to Catholicism, he had a profound impact on the thought and life of the Church in the twentieth century. 


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