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The Philosophy of Edith Stein

From Phenomenology to Metaphysics

Mette Lebech

Many interested reader will have put aside a work by Edith Stein due to its seeming inaccessibility, with the awareness that there was something important there for a future occasion. This collection of essays attempts to provide an idea of what this important something might be and give a key to the reading of Stein’s various works. It is divided into two parts reflecting Stein’s development. The first part, «Phenomenology», deals with those features of Stein’s work that set it apart from that of other phenomenologists, notably Husserl. The second part is entitled «Metaphysics», although Stein the phenomenologist would, like Husserl, initially have shied away from this designation. However, as Stein gradually understood the importance of the Christian faith for completing the phenomenological project of founding the sciences, and accepted it as indispensable for a philosophical view of the whole, her «attempt at an ascent to the meaning of being» can legitimately be called metaphysics, even as it also constitutes a fundamental criticism of Aristotle and Aquinas.
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Chapter 11: Heidegger and the Meaning of Being



Heidegger and the Meaning of Being

Appended to Stein’s ‘spiritual testament’ Finite and Eternal Being. An Attempt at an Ascent to the Meaning of Being we find a long essay entitled: Martin Heidegger’s Existential Philosophy.1 A shorter essay on the Castle of the Soul by Theresa of Avila is also appended.2 ← 147 | 148 →

An appendix is always an awkward thing to analyse as its status remains somewhat unclear. It was deemed important enough to be appended to the main work by the author, but it was not directly included in it. It is clear from a letter to Conrad-Martius that the appendices were written after the main work was completed.3 However, to judge from the level of importance the other appendix has for the understanding of Stein’s thought, this one too should give insight into an important aspect of it. The appendix on Theresa of Avila’s Interior Castle gives an analysis of the soul’s experience of its own depths in the context of mystical life, which confirms Stein’s early phenomenological analyses. If the Heidegger appendix gives us something of equal importance, what is it?

In the following we shall discuss the reasons Stein had to write about Heidegger (1). Then we shall turn to Stein’s discussion of Heidegger’s project (2). We shall finally outline Stein’s and Heidegger’s alternative phenomenological inheritance and their relationship to the meaning of being (3).

Why did Stein write about Heidegger?


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