History of Philosophy Workshop: Andreas Waldstein, "The Metaphysics and Morals of Beauty in William of Auvergne"


Location: Maritain Library (Geddes 437)

Please join us as we continue our lunchtime history of philosophy workshops! Each meeting will consist of a presentation by a graduate student or faculty on a project that they are working on in the history of philosophy, followed by a period of comments/questions from the other participants. The workshop is designed to give grad students and faculty the opportunity to develop ideas and receive helpful feedback on projects/papers in a friendly and low stakes environment. 

This week's presenter is Philosophy PhD student Andreas Waldstein, whose paper is on "The Metaphysics and Morals of Beauty in William of Auvergne."

Abstract: This paper discusses the metaphysics and morals of beauty found in the treatise De bono et malo, by the 13th century bishop of Paris, William of Auvergne. William develops an organic or teleological metaphysics of beauty; for William, the beautiful is the fitting. When a thing has all the perfections of which it is capable, it has attained the highest spiritual beauty it can attain. The more it approaches this state the more spiritually beautiful it will be, and the more it falls from it, the more ugly it will be. But since every actuality is to some extent a perfection of some potency, even ugly things are beautiful insofar as they exist. Our faculties are designed so that the truly perfect is truly pleasant (as long as we have not been corrupted), so that for humans, the spiritually beautiful and the morally good are one and the same. This metaphysics of beauty leads William to several surprising conclusions about the morals of beauty. Since we are by nature servants of God, what befits us, both in the moral and the intellectual spheres, is submission to divine rule. Human beauty is submission, human ugliness self-rule. In order to succeed in the difficult task of submission, one needs the virtue of prudence, which for William is a kind of moral good taste, a seeing as morally beautiful only what is truly morally beautiful, because pleasing to God. 

Lunch is provided with sign-up! For more information, please email Dylan MacFarlane (dmacfarl@nd.edu). We hope to see you there!

Originally published at historyofphilosophy.nd.edu. Please check their event page for details, since this event section may not reflect any changes to the event.