The Experience of Beauty: Hugh and Richard of St. Victor on Natural Theology


The article is published in Journal of Analytic Theology 4 (2016), 234–253.

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The paper argues that the Twelfth Century spiritually -oriented texts present an important, but often neglected instance of natural theology. The analysis will show that in the texts of Hugh of St. Victor (d. 1141) and his student Richard of St. Victor (d. 1173) we find a Christian Neo-Platonist variant of natural theology. The elements of natural theology form a central part of their larger spiritual programmes, which in turn are meant to guide the human being in her ascent into divine realities and thereby offer immediate experience of the presence of God. The article gives special attention to Hugh’s treatise De Tribus Diebus, as it explores both the manifestations of the Trinity in the created world as well as the beauty of all created objects. Hugh’s account will be supplemented by an exposition of Richard’s idea of experience as a vital means for all knowing.