Edith Stein’s Phenomenology and Christian Philosophy
Edited By Mette Lebech and John Haydn Gurmin
Edith Stein’s Reworked Liberalism and the State
← 82 | 83 →ANTONIO CALCAGNO
ABSTRACT: Edith Stein’s theory of the state has traditionally been read as a confirmation of either her communitarian or personalist philosophy. While it is true that Stein’s political philosophy draws upon her theories of community and the person, it is also true that Stein advocates for a strong Liberal vision of the state. In this paper, I show how Stein interweaves her Liberal convictions with her own theory of community. Furthermore, I argue that Stein’s overemphasis on the primacy of the law, formally understood, undermines her theory of community. Finally, I argue that Stein’s sense of solidarity is too strong a requirement for the good functioning of the state. States do function, and function well, with less stringent bonds between members of the state than those indicated by Stein.
While it is true that Edith Stein articulated various critiques of liberalism, especially of the contractarian sort, one must not dismiss liberalism altogether from her theory of the state in favour of a communitarian or personalist vision of the state.1 In this paper, I argue that Stein does not ← 83 | 84 →outright reject liberalism. While there is a general consensus that Stein drew inspiration from liberal ideals, scholars tend to focus on the phenomenological roots of Stein’s political theory.2 In fact, her theory of the state, including her arguments for the primacy of the rule of law, draws heavily from certain liberal precepts based on her own philosophical and personal political convictions. Stein’s...
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