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Quaestiones Disputatae

Volume 4, Issue 1, Fall 2013
Selected Papers on The Legacy of Edith Stein’s Finite and Eternal Being

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1. Quaestiones Disputatae: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Sarah Borden Sharkey Introduction to The Legacy of Edith Stein’s Finite and Eternal Being
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2. Quaestiones Disputatae: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
William Tullius Faith, Reason, and the Place of ‘Christian Philosophy’ in Edith Stein
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Paul Ricoeur claims that the tradition of philosophy is Greek by birth and, as such, encounters the Hebrew and the Christian always as an ‘other.’ The contemporary philosopher approach­ing issues of faith in the Judeo-Christian tradition, true to his or her Greek philosophical origins, can only approach the content of faith and the experience of the believer in a neutralized form and not in the mode of positive belief, rendering the idea of an explicitly ‘Christian philosophy’ impossible. In contrast, the phi­losopher Edith Stein argues for a strikingly different conclusion. Faith, entering into the framework of philosophical discussion, does not require a neutralization but stands as an authentic source of knowledge and phenomenological experience of God with­out which philosophy remains fundamentally impoverished on a variety of fronts. ‘Christian philosophy,’ for Stein, is not only a possibility, but is a philosophical necessity for the ultimate suc­cess of the philosophical project as a whole. This paper explores the nature of Christian philosophy, as articulated by Stein in Finite and Eternal Being and her essay, “Ways to Know God,” in its rela­tion to Greek thought; in particular, the way in which philoso­phy is naturally dependent upon faith, and the way in which faith forms the positive basis for a fulfilled intention of God that can be worked into philosophical analysis without violating the nature of philosophy.
3. Quaestiones Disputatae: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Karl Schudt Edith Stein, Apophatic Theology, and Freedom
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In Finite and Eternal Being, Edith Stein attempts an ascent to the fullest understanding of being. She starts with the personal being of the I and rises to the uncreated divine being, which is the formal, efficient, and exemplary cause of all that is. This divine being is also simple, and in this divine simplicity Stein pauses, remarking that one cannot properly make judgments about God since the very form of the judgment implies composition. God is, in the end, knowable only through what he is not—using the apophatic way of negation. God reveals himself as a person, and one who has created humans in his image and likeness. I will show the unique way in which Stein describes this image relationship: the ultimately unknowable individual being or haeccitas of each human person is a mirror of the unknowable being of God. Unknow­ability becomes, paradoxically, a way to know.
4. Quaestiones Disputatae: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Glenn Chicoine Present Potential in Edith Stein’s Finite and Eternal Being, Chapter Two
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This paper follows the analysis from self to God in chapter two of Edith Stein’s Finite and Eternal Being. It proposes and brings further to light the role she implies therein for the ‘real potential’ of the present moment and thereby uncovers key aspects of her analysis. The key aspects of Stein’s analysis, which elucidate the ‘real potential’ of the present moment, are (a) the potential at­tributable to the immediate self, (b) the potential in the world, or creaturely potential, which includes the potential attributable to the self-in-the-world, and (c) the pure potential that enables an ego-pole over against a world to exist whatsoever. This last potential correlates with “absolute being” in Stein’s sense, which includes essential being, and ultimately bridges temporality and Eternal Being. As Stein’s exposition suggests, only Divine Pure Act can actualize pure potential for there at all to be a self and world.
5. Quaestiones Disputatae: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Sarah Borden Sharkey Eternal Rest: The Beauty and Challenge of Essential Being
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Stein develops a tri-partite account of being, distinguishing three types of being: actual being, mental being, and essential being. The third—essential being—is particularly significant for Stein’s project of bringing together phenomenology and medieval meta­physics; it provides a response to a weakness Stein sees in the classic account of potency; it accounts for the deep intelligibility of all that is; and it plays a role in Stein’s understanding of artistic truth. In this piece, I lay out Stein’s understanding of essential being and a few of the reasons she posits this notion of being. I then contrast her account of essential being with at least one interpretation (a ‘thin-essence’ existential reading) of Thomas Aquinas on essence. Although Stein’s account of essential being offers many advantages and answers certain difficult questions, I end with challenges that her view faces, including what I see as a problematic reliance on an overly spatial metaphor for being.
6. Quaestiones Disputatae: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Kimberly Baltzer-Jaray The Wesen of Things, According to Reinach
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In Edith Stein’s pinnacle work Finite and Eternal Being, she describes in a footnote that the act of bracketing (reduction) that Husserl committed to starting in Ideas—an act that separates fact from nature where only the aspect of essential being is considered—was the philosophic knife that severed phenomenology into idealist and realist factions. In opposition to Husserl’s ap­proach, she writes, Adolf Reinach, Alexander Pfänder, Jean Hering, Hedwig Conrad-Martius, and others were instead “guided by the full meaning of the term nature, [and] became ever more confirmed in their realistic ways.” In this paper, I will describe what this full meaning of wesen is held by some of Husserl’s contemporaries and students and what it entails, specifically looking to how Reinach conceived it. This will include a discussion of phenomenological method, his views on the a priori, essences, and the laws that govern them, as well as an investigation into why Reinach felt reductions were dangerous and unnecessary for the intuition of essences and essential being.
7. Quaestiones Disputatae: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
David M. Cudnik How did Homer know Achilles? The Artist as Friend and Parent in Edith Stein’s Finite and Eternal Being
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A central distinction which guides Edith Stein’s aesthetics is the distinction between Urbild, or pure form, which is the source of artistic inspiration and Abbild, which is the completed work of art whose source is the Urbild. The exemplary work of art is one which is a clear communication of the Urbild that it copies. The work of art therefore springs from the artist’s knowledge of the Urbild. However, it is not knowledge of a conceptual kind but rather of an essential kind. The human relationship that manifests this distinct kind of knowledge is friendship. In the execution of the work of art, the artist painstakingly constructs a manifestation of the Urbild. In this, the artist resembles a parent who assists the child in calling forth the underlying essence of the child. Thus the knowledge and activity of the artist, as Stein describes it, have analogues in the human relationships of friendship and parenthood, respectively. In the following paper, I will describe how the artist resembles both friend and parent in more detail.
8. Quaestiones Disputatae: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Christopher T. Haley Manifesting Meaning: Art, Truth, and Community in St. Edith Stein
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In this paper I investigate the peculiarities of artistic truth in relation to God, the artist, the work of art, and the artwork’s audience in the context of Stein’s thought. In doing so, I attempt to fashion from Stein’s unsystematic statements about art the rudiments of an aesthetic theory. The core of this theory is the role of beauty in the manifestation of truth and meaning in the world of finite being. This manifestation, I argue, affords art a unique possibility of creating a fuller harmony between finite and infinite being, and so a fuller harmony with God.
9. Quaestiones Disputatae: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
John Finley Stein and Aquinas on the Problem of Individual Being
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Concerning the question of individual being, Edith Stein and Thomas Aquinas agree much more than her critique of the Thomistic view indicates. This discrepancy has three sources. First, Stein encounters Thomas through the writings of Joseph Gredt, who misinterprets Thomas on several key issues. Second, Thomas’s own language is admittedly often indeterminate when it comes to discussion of individuals, individuation, and individuality. Third, Stein and Thomas generally approach the topic of individual being with distinct concerns and therefore distinct emphases: she considers individuality; he, individuation. An examination of Thomas’s thought reveals that he and Stein would in fact agree on important points regarding matter, form, and subsistence in connection with individuality. Differences between the two thinkers remain, especially concerning form as a principle of individuality, but these differences stem from distinct ways in which Stein and Thomas think about the most fundamental metaphysical principles: namely, essence and existence. Still, significant harmony between the two on the question of individuality indicates fruitful possibilities for an understanding of the human person that draws upon Thomas’s objective analysis and Stein’s attention to the subjective.
10. Quaestiones Disputatae: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Timothy Martell Person and Community in Stein’s Critique of Heidegger’s Existential Philosophy
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Edith Stein’s Finite and Eternal Being: an Attempt at an Ascent to the Meaning of Being is profoundly influenced by her early work as a phenomenologist. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her critique of Heidegger’s existential philosophy. On the basis of her early phenomenological research, Stein is able to identify a number of shortcomings in Heidegger’s analysis of the human way of being, including that it fails to clarify what it is to be a person, fails to clarify what it is for a number of persons to be in community with one another, and mistakenly suggests that being in community with other persons is predominantly a way of fleeing from responsibility. Stein concludes that Heidegger’s analysis, though often insightful, caricatures the human way of being. In this paper, I present relevant parts of Stein’s early phenomenological studies of the person and community and show how they support her conclusion regarding Heidegger’s existential philosophy.