American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Vol. 82, No. 1, Winter 2008

Article excerpt

Drawing on diverse first-person documents, philosophical writings, and historical scholarship, this bio-historical introduction to Edith Stein examines her crucial life choices and philosophical creativity within the framework of her formative personal and historical circumstances. Drawn deeply to unravel the mysteries of life that she prized as a fertile hidden darkness, Stein deliberately disclosed and concealed her inner tumult and reflections. This essay argues that the axis of her life was her agonizing struggle--rife with ambiguity, confusion, contradiction, and luminous clarity--to redefine and reconstellate her various selves as a highly educated woman, Jew, German, Catholic convert, philosopher, mystic, educator, nun, citizen, friend, and family member. At the heart of her striving for psychological coherence was her unquenchable curiosity, her search for complex truth, her sustained optimistic belief in human agency and empathic potential, her longing to help create a better world, and, after World War I, her invincible faith in God.

Thinking Community and the State from Within, ANTONIO CALCAGNO

Stein describes the peculiar mental life of the community as a Gemeinschaftserlebnis or lived experience of the community. Such an experience is marked by a certain form of consciousness insofar as one knows that one is dwelling with and for the other (miteinander und fureinander) at varying degrees of intensity. Furthermore, one experiences solidarity as one dwells within the experience of the other and vice versa. Two central problems arise with this phenomenological description. First, one wonders whether the doctrine of empathy itself can account for these higher social mental states without necessarily arguing for a specific form of consciousness that is particular to community. Second, the question arises as to why community is described as being accompanied by a peculiar mental state, whereas other social structures like the mass, society, and the state are not described in this way. This article has as its focus these two questions.

Edith Stein's Theory of the Person in her Munster Years (1932-33), BEATE BECKMANN-ZOLLER

The new critical edition of Stein's lectures on philosophical and theological anthropology makes it possible to further research her theory of the person as developed during her middle period in Munster, that is, between 1932 and 1933. Her project revolves around the anthropological foundations of a Catholic pedagogy. This phase of her work is marked by various debates. On one hand, she attempts to bring the intellectual legacy of Husserl and phenomenology into dialogue with Thomas Aquinas and other scholastic thinkers. On the other hand, she confronts the ideas and spirit of National Socialism with her Catholic faith. Stein's Munster phenomenological method contrasts with Husserl's transcendental phenomenology; she develops an "eidetic psychology within a universal ontology." In her "somatological" anthropology, the human being appears as a unity of lived body, soul, and mind. As a person, the human being is investigated as species, double species (man-woman), individual, as having a communal essence (outside the concept of race), and, ultimately, as a seeker of God. Stein examines the freedom of human beings, which lies between the givens of nature and grace, as well as the tension between knowledge and faith. In the final section of this paper, the author discusses Stein's position over against contemporary deconstructivist feminism.

A Nothing That Is: Edith Stein on Being Without Essence, WALTER REDMOND

St. Thomas Aquinas has been considered a kairos in intellectual history for seeing God's essence as being. Martin Heidegger criticized philosophers for representing being as a be-ing and identifying it with God, and Jean-Luc Marion speaks of "God without being." In her Potency and Act Edith Stein introduced the category of being without essence, but such being is not God but "the opposite. …