Edith Stein’s Phenomenology and Christian Philosophy
Do We Die Alone? Edith Stein’s Critique of Heidegger
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ABSTRACT: In the recently translated appendix to Edith Stein’s major work Eternal and Finite Being, Stein assesses Martin Heidegger’s philosophy. This essay focuses on a narrow portion of that work and reviews Stein’s critique of Heidegger’s claim in Being and Time that authentic death is experienced alone. The central focus of the essay concerns the nature of intersubjectivity and whether it can be said either that the process of dying can be shared or that the dead are disconnected from the living. In other words: do we die alone?
When I first envisaged writing a paper on dying alone, I had in mind reports of soldiers dying on the battlefield and their claims of camaraderie during that ordeal and their conviction that the living and dead are in solidarity. My student soldiers who return from the intensity of close living, where deep bonds develop in the face of danger, often lament the loss of a sense of community in the humdrum of everydayness, and yearn to journey back to the world of war and death. I envisaged writing a paper to show that these reports of solidarity were not necessarily illusory; Heidegger was mistaken when he claimed that the experience of dying cannot be authentically shared. I wanted to take sides with the soldiers, knowing that they asked for no intellectual defense. I felt it was important to show that their pre-theoretical intuitions have a deep grounding in the nature of being....
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