A semblance of things unseen: damaged experience and aesthetic recovery in Theodor Adorno and Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Theology


Department of Religious Studies


Advisor: John Inglis


Hans Urs von Balthasar and Theodor Adorno are not often mentioned in the same company. While undoubtedly different, I argue that their overarching diagnoses of present phenomenological conditions are strongly corroborative. Both see present experience as damaged and that this damage is manifest in the loss of our recognition of veiled presence, or semblance. This has been made possible by a kind of forgetting" not understood in predominantly psychological terms, but historically, witnessed through the emergence of distinctly modern notions of art and aesthetics. Through exploring these connections in relation to their notions of "aura" and "glory" I suggest that not only can theology and critical theory be mutually supportive, but that a Christologically-centered theological aesthetics presents possibilities for a critical recovery of genuine experience."


Balthasar, Hans Urs von, 1905-1988 Criticism and interpretation, Adorno, Theodor W, 1903-1969 Criticism and interpretation, Aesthetics Religious aspects, Theology, Philosophy, Adorno, Balthasar, aesthetics, semblance, glory, aura, damaged experience, art, Gestalt, dialectics, critical theory, Benjamin, disenchantment, phenomenology, secularization

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