Toward a Human Ecology: Person, Life, Nature

Why Do We Need the Philosophy of Edith Stein?

Mette Lebech

"The science of the Cross involves the subject to the point of its own annihilation and abandonment into the meaning of being. The paradox is that this abandonment represents a foundation for knowledge."

It is a complex issue, need. How does one know what one needs? When we justify why we act and want and write the way we do, we often do so with reference to a need for something. That there is a legitimate recognized need for something makes a convincing argument. “Why do we need the philosophy of Edith Stein?” is a question asking for reasons as to why we should read Stein’s philosophy and spend time to come to know her work. It asks for the motives of her thought, for what is at stake in her philosophy.1

Stein is known primarily as a martyr and saint.2 That Stein’s saintliness has obscured her philosophy is partly due to the fact that saintliness of life perhaps is more important than the products of intellectual activity, but it is probably also due to the difficulty of her works and to the fact that she is a woman. Why would she need to write something so demanding, and why should we need to put in such effort to read it? Why would it not be enough for her to be a lovely woman and a saint? Why do we need her philosophy as well?


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