Art is a Jealous God

The popular saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” indicates a commonly-held assumption that all art is merely subjective.

In this webinar, IHE Fellow Margarita Mooney will consider an alternative tradition of thought with the Catholic poet and philosopher James Matthew Wilson: art makes a claim on how we should live. Their dialogue will engage with philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk and Jacques Maritain and writers like Dante and Umberto Eco, all of whom provide guides for how our experiences of beauty can lead to carefully considered and rational judgments which result in personal and communal flourishing.


Event organized and cosponsored with the Scala Foundation.

James Matthew Wilson is Professor of Humanities and the Founding Director of the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing , at the University of Saint Thomas, Houson. An award-winning scholar of philosophical-theology and literature, he has authored dozens of essays, articles, and reviews on all manner of subjects secular and divine, and especially on those where we see the two in their intrinsic relation, as truth, goodness, beauty, and being disclose themselves in art and culture, in the political and intellectual life, in our quest for self knowledge and the contemplation of God. His scholarly work especially focuses on the meeting of aesthetic and ontological form, where the craftsmanship of art-work discloses the truth about being. He has published ten books, including six books and chapbooks of poetry. Among his volumes are: The Vision of the Soul: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the Western Tradition (CUA, 2017); the major critical study, The Fortunes of Poetry in an Age of Unmaking (Wiseblood, 2015); and a monograph, The Catholic Imagination in Modern American Poetry (both Wiseblood Books, 2014).  His most recent books are The Strangeness of the Good (Angelico, 2020) and the poetic sequence, The River of the Immaculate Conception (Wiseblood, 2019). He was educated at the University of Michigan (B.A.), the University of Massachusetts (M.A.), and the University of Notre Dame (M.F.A., Ph.D.), where he subsequently held a Sorin Research Fellowship.

Margarita Mooney is an Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, where she teaches classes such as philosophy of social science; aesthetics and education; and resilience, vulnerability and suffering. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Scala Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Princeton, New Jersey, that works to offer meaning and purpose in American education by restoring a classical liberal arts education. Professor Mooney received her B.A. in Psychology from Yale University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University. Prior to returning to Princeton, she was on the faculty of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Yale University. She is the author of The Love of Learning: Seven Dialogues on the Liberal Arts (Cluny Media, 2021) and Faith Makes Us Live: Surviving and Thriving in the Haitian Diaspora (University of California Press, 2019). In addition to her scholarly publications, she has written for publications that reach wide audiences both inside and outside academia such as Real Clear PolicyScientific AmericanChronicle of Higher EducationFirst ThingsPublic DiscourseHedgehog Review, National Catholic Register, and Church Life Journal. Much of her work can be found at