More Information: "Do I have to?" is the most human of all questions. Children ask it when told to go to sleep. Adults ponder it when faced with the demands of the workplace, the family, or their own emotions and addictions. We find ourselves always poised between freedom and necessity.
In this volume, her most profound and carefully argued phenomenology of human creativity, Edith Stein explores the interplay of causal constraints and motivated choices. She demonstrates that physical events and physiological processes do not entirely determine behavior; the energy deployed for living and creativity exceeds what comes to us through physical means. The human body is a complex interface between the material world and an equally real world of personal value.
The body opens as well to community. Stein shows that, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a solitary human being. Communities are reservoirs of the meaning and value that fuel both our everyday choices and our once-in-a-lifetime accomplishments. This basic fact, she argues, is the starting point for any viable political or social theory.
The two treatises in this book comprise her post-doctoral dissertation that Stein wrote to qualify for a teaching job at a German university just after the First World War. They ring with the joy, hope, and confidence of a brilliant young scholar. Today they continue to challenge the major schools of twentieth-century psychology and cultural studies, particularly psychoanalytic theory and behaviorism. Here, too, is the intellectual manifesto of a woman who would go on to become a Christian and a Carmelite nun, only to be killed at Auschwitz like so many others of Jewish ancestry.
The articles and notes in this new anthology come from the final twelve years of Edith Stein's life, and reveal her efforts to integrate the Christian faith she had embraced at the time of her baptism with her rigorous training as a phenomenologist. Included here for the first time are both versions of her famous comparison between the thought-systems of Edmund Husserl (her philosophical mentor) and Thomas Aquinas (representing the Catholic tradition), written first in dialogue form and then reworked as an essay in Husserl's honor. The final entry, "Ways to Know God," a study of the famed fifth or sixth century author who wrote under the name of Dionysius the Areopagite, was originally published in The Thomist and intended for an American audience. One of the last works that Edith Stein completed before her arrest and deportation to Auschwitz, it is presented here in a fresh new translation, amplified with previously deleted sections that deal with such important topics as atheism and the nature of symbols.
In his recent encyclical, Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II recommends attention to Edith Stein as one of the great modern figures who "offer significant examples of a process of philosophical enquiry which was enriched by engaging the data of faith" (para. 74). This book provides readers interested in Edith Stein with an accessible introduction to major themes in her later thought.
Edith Stein is one of the most significant German-Jewish women of the 20th century. At the age of twenty-five she became the first assistant to Edmund Husserl, the founder of Phenomenology. She was much in demand as a writer and lecturer after her conversion from atheism to Catholicism. Later, as a Discalced Carmelite nun, she maintained her intellectual pursuits until she, like so many others, became a victim of the Nazi persecution that raged across Eastern Europe.
By making this landmark work available in English, the Institute of Carmelite Studies provides an eye-witness account of persons and activities on the scene at the time when psychology and philosophy became separate disciplines.
In addition to photographs and a map, this volume is enhanced with a preface, the foreword and afterword, notes, and a list of places associated with Edith Stein’s life. It is our aim that these, together with Edith Stein’s text, may help bring into relief the many background details of the rich autobiographical work she has left us.
**Chosen "Best Spirituality Book of 1986" by the Catholic Press Association**