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Intersubjectivity, Humanity, Being

Edith Stein’s Phenomenology and Christian Philosophy

Edited By Mette Lebech and John Haydn Gurmin

This volume brings together revised versions of papers presented at the inaugural conference of the International Association for the Study of the Philosophy of Edith Stein (IASPES). The conference papers are supplemented by a number of specially commissioned essays in order to provide a representative sample of the best research currently being carried out on Stein’s philosophy in the English speaking world. The first part of the volume centres on Stein’s phenomenology; the second part looks at her Christian philosophy; and the third part explores the contexts of her philosophical work.
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Edith Stein’s Ontological Argument


← 246 | 247 →WALTER REDMOND

ABSTRACT: Edith Stein, in her Finite and Eternal Being, stated an ontological argument for God’s existence resting upon a ‘deeper and clearer’ notion of God, she said, than that of Saint Anselm, its original author. She asked whether this argument, indeed any argument, even St Thomas Aquinas’s Five Ways, is sound. After her death many formulations of Anselm’s argument have been proposed by analytic philosophers using procedures of current logic. I will consider Stein’s argument in the context of two of these reformulations, and then offer a reflection on her criticism. Stein said she lived in two philosophical worlds: phenomenology and scholasticism; I will approach her work from a third: the world of analytic philosophy.


Edith Stein said she lived in the philosophical worlds of her two masters: in the Scholasticism of St Thomas Aquinas (but also of St Augustine and Blessed John Duns Scotus) and in the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl. In fact, she thought it her ‘proper mission’, her ‘life’s task’, to ‘get from Scholasticism to phenomenology and vice versa’, even to ‘fuse’ them into ← 247 | 248 →her ‘system’ a ‘give-and-take between Thomas and Husserl’.2 She attempted to do this, she said, in three works: a ‘Play’ (1929) in which Thomas and Husserl exchange views on ‘What is philosophy?’, a post-doctoral dissertation, Potency and Act (written in 1931), and her major work, Finite and Eternal Being (finished in 1937).3

Now, if we ask:...

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