Edith Stein

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Edith Stein lived an unconventional life. Born into a devout Jewish family, she drifted into atheism in her mid teens, took up the study of philosophy, studied with Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, became a pioneer in the women's movement in Germany, a military nurse in World War I, converted from atheism to Catholic Christianity, became a Carmelite nun, was murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942, and canonized by Pope John Paul II. Renowned philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre here presents a fascinating account of Edith Stein's formative development as a philosopher. To accomplish this, he offers a concise survey of her context, German philosophy in the first decades of the twentieth century. His treatment of Stein demonstrates how philosophy can form a person and not simply be an academic formulation in the abstract. MacIntyre probes the phenomenon of conversion in Stein as well as contemporaries Franz Rosenzweig, and Georg Luckas. His clear and concise account of Stein's formation in the context of her mentors and colleagues reveals the crucial questions and insights that her writings offer to those who study Husserl, Heidegger or the Thomism of the 1920's and 30's. Written with a clarity that reaches beyond an academic audience, this book will reward careful study by anyone interested in Edith Stein as thinker, pioneer and saint.

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Editorial Reviews

First Things
A remarkable intellectual biography that ends, rather than begins, with [Stein's] conversion. … Edith Stein is a splendid philosophical book, whose significance over time may come to rival that of After Virtue.
Times Literary Supplement
Edith Stein requir[es] slow and careful reading. . . . Nevertheless it opens the eyes to the interest of Stein's early work and its context within the still too obscure world of Continental philosophy.
Kenneth L. Woodward
Among many other virtues of this study of Stein as thinker is MacIntyre's magnificent demonstration of how any philosopher must be situated in the context of where she studied, who her mentors were and the historical moment both inside and outside the academy. A bravo performance.
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Winter 2010 - Robert E. Wood
Throughout, MacIntyre has shown the appreciation of phenomenology that could have changed the course of Anglo-American philosophy had Ryle not followed up on his early review of Heidegger.
July-September 2010 Food For The Journey
MacIntyre gives us a meticulously researched biographical introduction.... Very enriching for the reader.... For anyone with a serious interest in Edith as a philosopher - or those with philosophical interests wanting to know more about early 20th-century phenomenology - then this will be required reading.
Fr. Robert Sokolowski
Alasdair MacIntyre shows how the word 'philosophical' can be said of a life as well as a doctrine. He describes the people, events, and ideas in whose company Edith Stein lived in the decade that led to her baptism in 1922, and he defines phenomenology not as a method but as a disposition to let the truth of things come to light. His study of Stein's conversion and those of Reinach (to Protestantism), Rosenzweig (to Judaism) and Lukács (to Marxism) helps us understand the difference between reason and faith.
Times Literary Supplement (UK)
Edith Stein requir[es] slow and careful reading. . . . Nevertheless it opens the eyes to the interest of Stein's early work and its context within the still too obscure world of Continental philosophy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742559530
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,512,118
  • Product dimensions: 0.48 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Alasdair MacIntyre is senior research professor of philosophy at University of Notre Dame, IN. He is the author of nine books, including the influential After Virtue, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, and A Short History of Ethics.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Why take an interest in Edith Stein as a philosopher? Chapter 2 Stein and Reinach Chapter 3 Logical Investigations: A new starting-point in Philosophy Chapter 4 The background history: From Hume to the NeoKantians Chapter 5 The Logical Investigations: What do we learn from experience? Chapter 6 Reinach's Philosophical Work Chapter 7 Stein's progress 1913-1915 Chapter 8 1915-1916 Chapter 9 Stein on our Knowledge of Other Minds Chapter 10 1916-22: The complexity of Stein's History Chapter 11 The Political Dimension Chapter 12 Stein and Husserl Chapter 13 Stein's Conception of Individual and Community Chapter 14 What kind of story is the story so far? Chapter 15 Three Conversions Chapter 16 Stein's Conversion Chapter 17 Philosophy Deferred

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Edith Stein: Philosopher of Interpersonal Relations: "Empathy"

    People study Edith Stein aka Sister Teresa Benedicta a Cruce (1891 - 1942) for widely different reasons. Her fellow Carmelite Order nuns and priests tend to emphasize her insights into Christian and Jewish spirituality and her death at Auschwitz as a martyr to Nazi anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism. Thus the generally excellent EDITH STEIN: A BIOGRAPHY by Carmelite nun Waltraud Herbstrith displays the biographer's lack of depth as a professional philosopher. Stein's 1998 canonization by Pope John Paul II as Saint and one of six Patrons of Europe made Edith Stein better known among Jews: many angry that she had been portrayed as a Christian rather than a Jewish martyr. Stein, herself, be it said rejoiced in being both Christian and Jew. *** Yet in her youth, Edith Stein's passion was the profession of demanding, academic philosophy. Now steps into a previous biographical vacuum Notre Dame University philosophy professor Alasdair MacIntyre and his 2006 EDITH STEIN: A PHILOSOPHICAL PROLOGUE 1913 - 1922. Who will likely read this study of the earliest years of Edith Stein in the practice of philosophy? My guess is that Catholics will reach for the book because they want to know all they can about their fellow Catholic thinker and martyr. Unless, however, they have studied or read philosophy, especially modern German philosophy, they will find A PHILOSOPHICAL PROLOGUE very tough fishing in unfamiliar waters. Author MacIntyre, I think, does work hard to make his heroine accessible to the non-philosopher, so much so that professional philosophers may find perhaps 40% of his biography irrelevant. *** On the other hand, MacIntyre concedes, Edith Stein was not a philosopher of the first rank. She was original. She wrote lucidly. She raised more philosophical questions than she answered and they were good questions. But her total influence on European philosophy was far less than her onetime colleague and self-serving Nazi Martin Heidegger (BEING AND TIME, 1927). Professors and students of philosophy will, therefore, read Stein as something of a footnote within the broader movement of Phenomenology, created by Stein's mentor Edmund Husserl (1859 - 1938). *** Before MacIntyre lays out Stein's earliest training in and contributions to philosophy (with focus on her 1916 doctoral dissertation on EMPATHY), he feels compelled to review the status of German philosophy from around 1800 and Immanuel Kant, through Hegel and the 1850s-60s Neo-Kantian revival. Then enters Austrian mathematician turned philosopher Edmund Husserl with his new way of looking at things called phenomenology. Some of Husserl's immensely gifted students, especially Adolf Reinach and Edith Stein, pushed beyond their master into inter-personal relationships, law and politics. Versus Hume and Kant (and at certain times Husserl himself) Reinach and his admirer Stein found in personal experience and intuition necessity and universal laws objectively and truly presented by the objects of consciousness themselves. This was not a popular position in neo-Kantian German philosophy and its warring universities. *** Alasdair MacIntyre makes a credible case that before you understand Edith Stein as a philosopher, you must come to terms with certain elements of history: medieval "realism," Aristotelian belief that the human mind intuits essences of real objects presented to sense and memory; David Hume's denials, Kant's reactions and more. -OOO-

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