Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Ep. 63—Beauty Revealing Being (Vision of the Soul Pt. II)—James Matthew Wilson

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 23, 2020 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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It is in the nature of Being to reveal itself to us, and in the natural realm this is done preeminently through beauty.

Aquinas mentions radiance, clarity and proportion as beauty’s three criteria. Proportion is arguably the most important in showing forth Being, as beauty reveals the plenitude of relations among all things: the relation of the parts of a thing, of the parts to the whole which surpasses them, of the whole object to all other things, and to its Maker.

This is part two of a three-part interview with poet and philosopher James Matthew Wilson about his book The Vision of the Soul.


[3:10] The nihilistic disenchanting force of rationalism and its infiltration of Catholic thought

[10:47] Beauty as a transcendental property of Being, and the “synthesis of all the transcendentals”

[18:50] Theodor Adorno on reason and beauty

[22:53] Aquinas’s tripartite formulation of beauty (radiance, clarity, proportion) illuminates the older definition of beauty as the splendor of form; an argument for proportion as most important

[30:13] The pitfalls of Maritain’s focus on radiance and clarity over proportion

[35:31] The modernist experiment to find out the degree to which beauty could eschew a pleasant surface and still remain beautiful

[40:29] Modernism as a movement for metaphysical realism in art


The Vision of the Soul Goodness-Western-Tradition/dp/0813229286

James Matthew Wilson

JMW Twitter

A few of the artworks mentioned by James:

The Dying Gaul

Seamus Heaney’s poem inspired by The Dying Gaul

Laocoön and His Sons

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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