Love as „Value Response“. The Philosophy of Love in Dietrich von Hildebrand

Martin Cajthaml

The aim of this paper is to present and to reflect critically upon von Hildebrand’s account of love as a “value response”. The paper starts with the explanation of the notion of “response” which is supposed to capture a special class of intentional acts. Consequently, the paper expounds upon von Hildebrand’s concept of value as an “intrinsic importance”. The connection of the two concepts gives rise to the notion of “value response” which not only captures the essence of love (as understood by von Hildebrand) but is at the same time a key concept of von Hildebrand’s thought. It is then explained to which value love actually responds. According to von Hildebrand, love is a response to the value of a person qua person. This value is made accessible by specifically personal values, such as goodness, intelligence, charm etc., yet it must not be identified with them. The paper concludes with two critical remarks, concerning, first, von Hildebrand view that Plato interprets love as desire, and second, the difficulties that arise from any attempt to apply von Hildebrand’s theory of love as a value response to the love of parents for their unborn child.