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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 8: Woman

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CHAPTER 8

Woman

Being a woman as well as being a man presents individuals with a task they share with only half of humanity. Because it is a task that probably essentially involves a relationship with those whose task it precisely is not, and also, accidentally so to speak, can free up incomparable creativity to the point of bringing children into the world, it is accompanied by joys and sorrows the depths of which stir every human heart and often break them. Whether the imbalance in existing reflections on gender, allowing for a disproportionate amount of reflection on woman compared to reflections on what it is to be a man in itself bears a message about reality or indeed is a misrepresentation of it, is a moot question. It remains that Stein’s reflections on woman in fact also contain a philosophy of (male) man, although both remain somewhat embryonic, and also sometimes marked by not being worked out in the same philosophical depth as the rest of her philosophical anthropology.1

To discuss Stein’s philosophy of woman, I wish in the following to describe its place within the context of the whole of Stein’s philosophy (1). This will lead us to discuss the place of gender within the human person as Stein presents it in her early and later philosophical anthropology (2) and also the typical differences of the sexes as portrayed by Stein (3). Finally we ← 101 | 102 → shall be in a position to...

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