Edith Stein’s Phenomenology and Christian Philosophy
Edited By Mette Lebech and John Haydn Gurmin
Quid and Quale: Reflections on a Possible Complementarity Between Metaphysical and Phenomenological Approaches to Personal Individuality in Edith Stein’s Potenz und Akt
← 210 | 211 →CHRISTOF BETSCHART OCD
ABSTRACT: The principle of individuation for human persons is one of the points on which Edith Stein is critical of a Thomistic account. In my view, it is possible to show that Stein’s phenomenological perspective does not exclude a Thomistic position, but can be understood in a complementary manner. An investigation into Stein’s distinction between Quid and Quale in the human person has led me to this hypothesis. By Quid, Stein means the common human form with its faculties bearing an individual openness to specific contents (Erschlossenheit) and an individual lifeforce (Lebenskraft). This individuality is the result not only of material dispositions and circumstances (Thomistic view), but even more basically of the Quale by which Stein means a fundamental quality of the being of each person.
Let us start with some preliminary questions. Firstly, why choose the question of personal individuality in Potency and Act?1 It is worthwhile, in my view, to study this not very well known work of Edith Stein containing an explicit ← 211 | 212 →link between phenomenological and scholastic approaches. Secondly, why choose the two expressions Quid and Quale as they appear only in Potency and Act? It is right that this terminology is used only in Potency and Act, but the reality is present as well in earlier and later works with other expressions. Stein speaks for example of a last indissoluble, qualitative moment in her Introduction to Philosophy (cf. EPh 1342) and in Finite and...
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