From Phenomenology to Metaphysics
Chapter 1: Edith Stein as a European Philosopher
Edith Stein as a European Philosopher
The Silesian philosopher Edith Stein is best known for her philosophy of the person. Her engagement with the relationship between personal and social identity is often overlooked however, along with her refined phenomenology of the social world resulting from this engagement. We shall in this first chapter look at how this engagement is rooted in her own experience of controversial social identity (as a German Jew in Silesia/Schlesien/Śląsk), and how it in turn forces us to understand her, beyond ethnic boundaries, as a European (1). We shall then look at the European roots of Stein’s philosophy, particularly in the traditions stemming from Husserl and Aquinas (2). Finally we shall attempt to show how her Christian philosophy is founded on her phenomenological engagement with social identity and may be seen as an attempt to solve the problems arising from various forms of colliding nationalism (3).
Stein as a European
Growing up in Silesia marked Stein’s thought significantly. Although she saw herself as a Prussian, the changeable history of Silesia was nevertheless her background. After the First World War some members of her family moved to Berlin from Polish speaking areas in Silesia as these ceased to be German territory. Silesia was also earlier under Austrian (1526–1742) and Bohemian (1335–1526) rule, and in the early Middle Ages it was first Moravian and then Polish. It is the latter, for most of its...
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