Edith Stein: Life in a Jewish Family: Her Unfinished Autobiographical Account Vol. 1 available in Paperback
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Edith Stein: Life in a Jewish Family: Her Unfinished Autobiographical Account Vol. 1 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
The world knows Edith Stein first as a canonized Jewish Catholic saint, executed in 1942 at age 49 in Auschwitz. But she was also a brilliant linguist and professional philosopher before she became a lecturer on women's rights and, at age 42, a Carmelite nun. *** Her autobiography, LIFE IN A JEWISH FAMILY 1891 - 1916, written mainly in 1933 after the Nazis came to power, lays out in great detail Stein's first 25 years. Her family were nationalistic German (Prussian) Jews, making the most of the Napoleonic Era and later emancipation laws to advance themselves. In her Protestant high school class in Breslau, Edith was one of nine Jewish girls, with only one Catholic. With the exception of her pious, observant mother Auguste, her combined Stein-Courant families were non-religious. Edith herself stopped praying in her early teens. When she became a Catholic in 1922, she converted not from Judaism but from atheism. *** We receive large dollops of information about each of the seven surviving Stein siblings, especially Erna, less than two years Edith's senior. They were raised as twins and were inseparable friends. Erna became an M.D. and emigrated to the USA. *** There are flashes of conflict in Stein's autobiography between Orthodox and secular Jewish practices and ideals. One Orthodox male friend of hers is shown splitting hairs with her about whether he violated the Sabbath prohibition of carrying things. A curious passage also contrasts Jewish/Christian attitudes toward death. A sister-in-law introduced much tension into the family when she demanded a greater personal share of the wealth produced by the family lumber business started by Edith's deceased father. Stein wrote: "According to Jewish sensibility, it is a sign of heartlessness to regard the death of a beloved one as an inevitable future event, to keep it soberly in view, to discuss it, and to make provisions for it. Such measures are left to the 'goyim' to whom one ascribes as characteristic the lack of tender feelings and of compassion. ... we never even permitted ourselves to think of a time when Mother would no longer be with us" (Ch. 3) *** At the University of Breslau, Edith had a good older friend, Georg Moskiewicz, who had both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. One day in psychology seminar, he found Edith absorbed in critical reviews of Goettingen philosophy professor Edmund Husserl. He persuaded her to dive into Volume Two of Husser's LOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS, which she devoured, coming to consider Husserl the greatest living philosopher. Georg had studied a semester with Husserl and longed to return to Goettingen. He said: "In Goettingen that's all you do: philosophize day and night, at meals and in the street, everywhere. All you talk about is 'phenomena'" (Ch. 5) *** Soon Stein was in Goettingen. When Husserl transferred to the University at Freiburg im Breisgau, Edith Stein went with him. For him she wrote her 1916 doctoral thesis on "Empathy," which merited a rare summa cum laude citation. *** Edith Stein tried but failed to make a career teaching philosophy in a German University. There were no women philosophy professors in Germany, much less Jewish women philosophers. She did not break that glass ceiling but went on to produce much original philosophic writing: about the human person, society and politics. -OOO-