David Hart: Delight As A Mode Of Knowledge

Thus, for Christian thought, to know the world truly is achieved not through a positivistic reconstruction of its “sufficient reason”, but through an openness before glory, a willingness to orient one’s will toward the light of being, and to receive the world as gift, in response to which the most fully “adequate” discourse of truth is worship, prayer, and rejoicing. Phrased otherwise, the truth of being is “poetic” before it is “rational” – indeed is rational precisely as a result of its supreme poetic coherence and richness of detail – and cannot be truly known if this order is reversed. Beauty is the beginning and end of all true knowledge: really to know anything, one must first love, and having known one must finally delight; only this “corresponds” to the trinitarian love and delight that creates. The truth of being is the whole of being, in its event, groundless, and so in its every detail revelatory of the light that grants it.

For Christian thought, then, delight is the premise of any sound epistemology: it is delight that constitutes creation, and so only delight can comprehend it, see it aright, understand its grammar. Only in loving creation’s beauty – only in seeing that creation truly is beauty – does one apprehend what creation is.


In reality, subjective certitude cannot be secured, not because the world is nothing but the aleatory play of opaque signifiers, but because subjective certitude is an irreparably defective model of knowledge; it cannot correspond to or “adequate” a world that is gratuity rather than ground, poetry rather than necessity, rhetoric rather than dialectic.

The Beauty of the Infinite, p. 132, 253, 138
(Bold mine, order of quotes mine)

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