Summer/Autumn/Winter 2002, Vol. XXVII, No. 2, 3, 4  Download PDF here


In recent years, Pope John Paul II has made a particular effort to call attention to the work and life of Edith Stein: canonizing her as St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, naming her co-patroness of Europe, and making explicit mention of her in his encyclical Fides et Ratio. the details of her life are well-known: born to a Jewish family, she became an atheist, studied under Edmund Husserl, and made original contributions to phenomenology in her writings about empathy, the individual, and the state. In 1922, Stein was baptized into the Catholic Church, and in 1942, she was murdered at Auschwitz. Her philosophical work after her baptism takes on a quite different character from her early phenomenological writing. Her early work followed the descriptive phenomenological method closely, and was constructed from her own observation and reflection. Her later work comes out of the context of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, and attempts to integrate the best ideas of these authorities with the phenomenology in which she was schooled, as well as with the new faith into which she had entered.

It is this post-baptismal work that the pope has explicitly held up as a model of Christian philosophy.1 Stein’s later philosophical writings, beginning with her contribution to the Festschrift for Husserl’s seventieth birthday2 up to her final primarily philosophical book, Endliches and Ewiges Sein, are an attempt to construct a Christian philosophy. Stein argues that philosophy must be completed by faith in order to be true to its mission, and constructs an ontology that attempts to ascend to the full meaning of Being.4 In the course of this ascent Stein makes free use of the doctrines of the Catholic faith. In fact, she states5 that the task of philosophy is “to bring to harmony what it has extracted with its particular means with what is offered by faith and theology – in the sense of an understanding of being from its ultimate foundations.”6

Stein’s vision of a philosophy that works from both faith and reason is controversial. Lembeck considers that Stein’s late philosophy lacks the scientific rigor of her earlier work.7 Gosebrink argues that Stein uses faith improperly as content for her philosophy, rather than as an area of experience to be studied phenomenologically. It is a deus ex machina used to fill gaps where reason fails.8 The substance of the complaint is that Stein uses a non-insightful source in her philosophy; faith provides positive content to her ontology. She would have been correct to see faith as another aspect of human experience, to be studied perhaps in the manner of William James, but any attempt by Stein to derive some sort of knowledge-content from faith is illegitimate. Much of modern philosophy is not willing to concede any sort of scientific status to faith; it may give assurance to the believer and be useful for regulating conduct, but the content of its revelation is not accessible to philosophical study. A philosophy that depends in some way on faith would become unscientific and therefore not philosophy, since only those who already possess faith would be able to accept it.

One should attempt to understand a philosophy by its own standards before it is rejected as defective. Lembeck judges Stein’s Christian philosophy by the standard of phenomenology, a standard that she herself subscribed to before her conversion. (She claimed in Einführung in die Philosophie that the phenomenological method is the philosophical method that gives the way to the solution of all philosophical problems.)9 Gosebrink similarly judges Stein’s philosophy according to a standard that disallows any philosophical or scientific use of faith. Now, if by definition science precludes any use of faith, then the criticisms are correct, and Stein’s philosophical work can safely be consigned to the ash heap.

But her work concerns itself with just these questions: is there some legitimate way that philosophy can use faith? Moreover, is the essence of philosophy itself such that it can only find its completion through faith? Must philosophy be exclusively phenomenological? We must be careful not to reject an argument out of hand just because we may not like the conclusion. The argument that Stein makes ought to be examined on its own merits, and her conclusions can only be rejected or accepted after we have followed along her way. In this article, I will make a preliminary investigation of the Christian philosophy of Edith Stein, focusing on her understanding of the relationship between faith and reason.

I. Faith

The basic outline of Stein’s thinking about the relationship between philosophy and faith can be found in her fictional dramatic dialogue between Edmund Husserl and St. Thomas Aquinas.10 Under the direction of Martin Heidegger, she removed the dramatic elements for the 1929 edition of the Jahrbuch für Philosophic und Phänomenologische Forschung. Both versions of this work have been translated in parallel columns in the new English edition. Unless otherwise indicated, my citations will come from this translation. I will use Stein’s original version (column A), not the one edited to satisfy Heidegger (column B). The words of the character of St. Thomas in this dialogue can be considered to be Stein’s, although they may not say exactly what Thomas thought. (Please note that at this point I am giving Stein’s thought. The critical analysis comes later.)

Stein acknowledges that philosophy would indeed be justified in excluding faith if faith were just a dim feeling or some irrational urge. By “feeling” [Gefühl] Stein is referring to a sensation or inkling, something like a taste for cheesecake. The key is that such feelings are irrational. Faith, on the contrary, has a rational structure that can be understood by reason, if it cannot be originally derived through or comprehended by the intellect. Although Stein does not speak in terms of affectivity as a third element aside the intellect and the will, her thought on the idea of faith as “feeling” cannot be construed as an attack on the validity of the affective dimension of cognition; surely faith is at least an appeal to the heart. At issue is the whether faith is like an appetite for food that may have no rational basis. Faith gives something intelligible, if not completely comprehensible. Through faith the believer comes to know things otherwise inaccessible to him or her. Thus the Christian knows, for example, that God is a trinity, that one person of the trinity was incarnated as human, and that there is a bodily resurrection.

Something must be said here about my choice of terms. I am using “know” to refer to what Stein thinks faith gives to the believer: we know that there is a God, a heaven, and a resurrection if we have the gift of faith. The common usage in English, however, is to say “I have faith, and so I believe there is a God, a heaven, and a resurrection.” I have chosen to use the word “knowledge” for what faith provides the faithful since, according to Stein, faith does not provide mere belief. “On the contrary,” says Stein, “faith is a way to truth.”11 Faith provides intellectual content that is more certain than any knowledge from other sources, because faith is guaranteed by God. Faith gives knowledge in the customary English sense of providing the believer with something certain and true. What it does not do is give us insight into the content of faith: “the certainty of faith lacks the obviousness of insight [uneinsichtig].”12 So the word “belief ”cannot be used, since belief can be true or false, but faith as content is always true.

Stein herself uses several different words to refer to the type of cognition that faith gives us. In the dialogue between Husserl and Aquinas, Stein is careful to distinguish between faith [Glaube] and knowledge [Erkenntnis]. However, she does use the word Wissen to refer to what faith gives us: “a second way of gaining knowledge [Wissen] alongside the natural way.”13 Finally, in another work she does use the word Erkenntnis to refer to faith, describing faith as love, deed, and knowledge [Erkenntnis] at the same time.14 I will continue to use the word “knowledge” to refer to that which faith presents us, as it follows Stein’s meaning and usage. But it must be understood that by knowledge is implied no corresponding insight.

Stein’s understanding of faith follows the traditional distinction between fides quae creditur (the faith that we believe) and fides qua credimus (the faith by means of which we believe). Fides quae refers to the content that the believer believes, such as the trinity or the atonement. Fides qua refers to the virtue that allows the believer to assent to the content of faith. According to Aquinas, humans need the supernatural gift of faith because of our
proper end: the proper end of human life is not happiness in this world, but rather is eternal happiness with God. We cannot see our true end, and therefore need guidance to achieve it, just as travelers need maps for unfamiliar countries. One cannot reach an end about which
one has no knowledge, except perhaps by accident. Since our end is life everlasting, we need knowledge of it.15 In order to reach this goal, one needs a recognition of life after death and an eternal destiny, and also the means to achieve this destiny. Faith is a source of very real and necessary content, not just a warm feeling about the divine.

For Stein, faith must be a true and reliable source of knowledge, not just mere belief, for Stein, because it has a specific function: faith leads us to eternal life with God. It must be true in order to be worthwhile. In other words, for the sacramental life, the atonement, the Eucharist, and the scriptures to be effective, they must be true. Faith is not mere belief for Stein, as in “I believe the president,” or “I believe that the sun will come up;” it is knowledge: “I know that my redeemer lives.” (Job 19: 25) Furthermore, this knowledge given in faith is the most certain knowledge of all, since it is guaranteed by God. The faithful may not have evidence, but nevertheless are certain that the content of faith is absolutely true. Aquinas says that faith is the most certain in the adherence we give it, if not in the evidence we have for it.16 In fact, despite the lack of evidence, “for the believer such is the certainty of faith that it relativizes all other certainty, and … he can but give up any supposed knowledge which contradicts his faith.”17

This is a hard pill to swallow for those without the virtue of faith. It seems to be irrational and counterintuitive, that statements for which we have little or no scientific evidence are given a truth-status higher than any scientific statement. But the problem is that faith, if it exists, is a supernatural gift of grace. Those who lack it cannot legitimately deny its existence. Consider the case of tone-deaf persons: music sounds like nonsense to them. But very few would contend that music does not really exist. Stein’s arguments only make sense if one is prepared to concede that faith as the most certain source of truth just might actually exist.

But how is this content guaranteed? How does the believer know that those things proposed for belief are true? Faith is not just content, but it is also a virtue, a power by which we believe (fides qua credimus). By faith as virtue, faith as content is guaranteed. The assent to faith is so powerful that it can compel the philosopher to search beyond what is accessible to reason alone. Stein says that faith provides us with the impetus to go further: “it is a forward stepping: a going beyond all conceptually comprehensible particular knowledge therein in the simple grasp of one truth.”18 Indeed, the conviction that there are truths beyond natural reason shows the believer that philosophy cannot of itself reach its status as a perfectum opus rationis, that is, as a thorough grounding of all knowledge.19 We need to examine how it is that faith can do this. How is it that faith can be the most certain source of truth?

II. Faith as Self-Guarantee

The problem of certitude has long been a preoccupation of modem philosophy. Philosophers have since Descartes searched for an absolutely certain foundation from which to acquire certain knowledge. For Descartes it was the ego cogito; for Husserl, it was the transcendental ego. Stein subjects the problem of faith to the same question: if faith is to be a source of knowledge for the believer, it must have some guarantee or evidence. The answer to the question is given by St. Thomas in her dialogue: “faith is its own guarantee.”20 The believer knows the truth of the dogmas proposed by the Church by virtue of his or her faith. Gosebrink complains that the idea that faith is unquestionable is “fideistische Naivitat.”21
For faith to guarantee itself seems to be -a vicious circle, somewhat like pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps, or like plugging an extension cord back into itself. But it is not so: there are two senses of faith, fides quae (the believed truths) and fides qua (the virtue by which one believes). Fides qua guarantees fides quae: the virtue guarantees the knowledge. The virtue of faith is a gift granted freely by God, and cannot be acquired on one’s own. Since it is a gift, those who have not received the gift cannot deny the possibility that others may receive it. But those without faith can legitimately inquire about the structure of the gift of faith, and what such faith could offer to philosophy, which as philosophy should be accessible to both believer and unbeliever alike. The tone-deaf person can, after all, learn music theory, even if he or she will never truly hear music.

III. Belief in a Person as the Key to Faith

What is the nature of the gift of faith? Can we find any everyday experiences to give a phenomenological clue to the essence of faith? Stein gives an extended treatment of the nature of the faith act and its phenomenological structure in a fragmentary work (apparently prepared for lectures) from 1932: Die ontische Struktur der Person und ihre erkenntnistheoretische Problematik. In this work, Stein begins her analysis with an examination of the customary uses of the word Glaube. She distinguishes Glaube from “belief ’ (she uses the English word), which accompanies the act of the original grasping of an object [Erfassung] or the recollection of the same:22 I see a dog, and believe that I have seen a dog. Belief also accompanies logical states of affairs and conclusions drawn from them.23 We believe both that we have seen a dog, and also that the dog is a mammal, since all dogs are mammals. Belief accompanies conviction; it is the attitude that I take relative to the truth of a proposition about which I have some insight. Belief is also used in the sense “I believe the dog is a Malamute, but I don’t know.” It could be otherwise; Stein calls this opinion.24 Finally there is doxa or blind faith, which is like conviction in strength of adherence, but which lacks insight, like opinion.25 One may be tempted to consider faith a subset of doxa, since like blind faith it is firm of conviction and slim of insight. But according to Stein faith is something much different.

None of these descriptions is sufficient to describe faith, since faith is not just a moment accompanying some other act, in the way that belief accompanies an act of perception or judgment. Faith is itself an act. In the act of faith are combined three aspects: cognition [Erkenntnis], love, and deed [Tat].26 It is a cognition, but unlike other kinds, its object is not a state of affairs, but a person: “The object of faith is God. Fides is belief in God.”27 [Der Gegenstand des Glaubens ist Gott. Fides ist Glaube an Gott. Translation mine.] Now the object of faith is not seen, which is why faith gets confused with mere blind faith or doxa. But in the act of faith “that which I grasp penetrates me while I grasp it; it seizes hold of me in my personal center, and I cling to it.”28 [sondern das, was ich erfasse, dringt, indem ich es erfasse, in mich ein; es ergreift mich in meinem personalen Zentrum, und ich halte mich daran Jest. Translaton mine.] The personal center or core is a recurrent notion in Stein’s philosophy. It is the seat of the powers of the soul and the home of freedom. Stein describes the personal center as the mid-point of the soul in Die Seelenburg, an appendix to Endliches und Ewiges Sein on Theresa of Avila: it is the place where we hear the voice of conscience, and the place of free personal decisions. It is also the place of unification with God.29
Faith grasps us at the center of our powers, at the seat of our free will. Faith is love: when one undertakes the act of faith one feels love for God and feels loved by God. It is also deed: “To grasp and hold the hand of God: this is the deed that co-constitutes the act of faith.”30 [Gottes Hand fassen und halten, das ist die Tat, die den Glaubensakt mitkonstituiert. Translation mine.] So, in the act of faith, one senses the unseen God, loves God, and undertakes the act of conforming oneself to God. Stein describes what happens as a result of the act of faith: “If I take hold of the hand that touches me, then I find absolute support and absolute security.”31 [Ergreife ich die Hand, die mich anruhrt, dann fznde ich den absoluten Halt und die absolute Geborgenheit. Translation mine.]

Consider the difference: when I believe the Pythagorean theorem, my belief is directed towards a state of affairs, or rather a logical proposition about the relationship of states of affairs. That which I believe has little effect upon me, except when I have reason to determine the lengths of a right triangle. The theorem does not change my life in any significant way outside of the solving of geometry problems. But faith in God is different, since it is faith in a person. It is analogous to the love of or belief in a person.

The usual use of the word “belief ’ is without the preposition “in” for states of affairs or truth values: “I believe the president, I believe the Pythagorean theorem.” But when it is used
of a person, there is a different phrase: “I believe in you.” This is the same as the German “glaubenan.”32 This means that in belief we hold on to a person, and the other holds on to us. The spatial metaphor refers to the mutuality of the act. Consider the example
of falling in love: I know that my wife loves me, and I hold on to her in this love. I trust that she loves me in return. I depend upon her, I count on her steadfastness, and I invest myself in her well-being. I cling to her and she clings back. I believe her, but this means more than a mere belief in a statement: I believe in her, and trust that she will remain true to her love. This is the model for faith in God: we believe in him, and hold on to God. It is a personal relationship, not just a theoretical act. The believer believes in God as a person, and trusts that God will be true to his word, just as the husband believes in his wife and her promises. The believer trusts in the person without any proof33 because he or she believes in God, just as one spouse can believe the other without proof because of the trust of the personal relationship. The difference between acts of faith and theoretical acts is the nature of the relationship: impersonal and objective versus interpersonal and subjective.

But belief in a human person may be misplaced, since it depends upon the unchangeability of that person. One does not mean that the person should be a stone statue, of course, but rather that the love or honor upon which one depends may change. Persons can change, after all. We can love images of people that do not coincide with the people themselves. On the other hand, faith in God is appropriate, since he is unchanging and steadfast. In faith the Christian believer feels love for the all-powerful and all-good God, and reaches out to him. The believer feels that he or she has found a source of absolute protection and security.34 Thus in the act of faith one receives the guarantee of faith, just as in the act of love one receives the guarantee of love. There is no scientific proof of love, but the act of loving gives the assurance of love. Similarly, the act of faith gives no scientific proof, but brings the believer before the love and steadfastness of God.

Through the act of faith the believer can assent to the content of faith, to the dogmas proposed for belief by the Church. It is the most certain knowledge possible because of the unchanging nature of God. Faith guarantees itself. There is no vicious circle, since the gift of faith as virtue guarantees the certainty of faith as content. Stein says that “The unique certitude of faith is a gift of grace.”35 This is difficult for the non-believer to accept, but these descriptions of faith necessarily have the character of assertion rather than argument. Faith, if it exists at all, is a gift of grace. If I have not received the gift, I cannot deny the possibility that someone else has, unless faith be something like a square circle, a conceptual contradiction. To understand Stein’s Christian philosophy, one must assume at least the possibility of the existence of Christianity as the true faith. It is obvious that if Christianity is false and faith a chimera that any Christian philosophy would be wrong. The question to consider is the shape a Christian philosophy must have if indeed there is such a thing as faith.

IV. From Faith to Christian Philosophy

What is a Christian to do? He or she has a source of knowledge that appears to be beyond reason. Should this knowledge (and it is knowledge in its certainty, if not in its insightfulness) be kept strictly separate from philosophy or is there a uniquely Christian way to philosophize? Is there a possible relationship between faith and reason? Is the relationship between faith and philosophy merely accidental or is it based in the essence of philosophy? Stein argues that in fact there is a necessary relationship between faith and philosophy. To begin to understand her position we will need to examine her view of the nature of philosophy. Stein says that philosophy can be thought of as “the living philosophizing and the continuous spiritual attitude.”36 She gives two senses here: in the first sense, Stein is referring to the actual act of philosophizing, as one understands and judges; it is in the activity that philosophy primarily exists. This is the rationale behind Plato’s arguments in Letter Seven that “anyone who is seriously studying high matters will be the last to write about them. …”37

Philosophy as an act cannot be taught as doctrines in a book, but can only be learned by doing. The second sense that Stein gives for philosophy is the spiritual disposition necessary for the philosophical act. One must be a seeker by nature, amazed by beings, and must be prepared to undertake the work necessary to find answers. Consider Aristotle’s claim that philosophy begins through wonder.38 Some humans are born philosophers, with a constant drive to seek more foundational knowledge, while others simply are not interested, as anyone who has taught an introductory philosophy course will know.

But there is a third and most important sense of philosophy: philosophy as science, a view that Stein takes from Husserl, particularly from Logische Untersuchungen and Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft. Stein defines science as “an intellectual structure, that of independent existence in the individual thinking spirit; an inner connectedness of defined laws of an orderly edifice of concepts, judgments, and proofs.”39 A science has its existence apart from any individual and its insights can be repeated in principle by anyone. Individual human sciences remain incomplete and fragmentary. But Stein mentions the idea or ideal of science: “We can imagine that a domain of things be entirely investigated. ..; that all that has to be asserted about it in general is presented in the form of true judgments; and that all these judgments are placed in appropriately required links of proofs or-what amounts to the same thing in a unity forming a`closed theory.”40 This is what each scientist works towards; he or she wishes to delineate completely the behavior of every thing within the area in which he or she works. A science seeks to make true statements about the domain in which it works.

But if science is directed towards true statements, Stein says, we need to make clear what is meant by truth. Stein takes over the correspondence theory of truth. A true statement such as “the cherry tree blooms” is true because it corresponds to a true state of affairs, the existence of the actual blooming cherry tree. Somehow, the human mind is capable of conforming itself to the external state of affairs, and in knowledge makes an affirmation about that state of affairs. Thus we find that truth depends on Being, the Being of the state of affairs. If the tree does not exist or is not blooming, the statement is false. Thus we can say that “True Being is that which all science aims at.”41,42 If philosophy is a science, it must then be concerned with Being.

What is the relationship of philosophy to science?
What sort of science is it? Stein follows Husserl’s characterization of this relationship. Husserl saw the chaotic situation of science at the beginning of the twentieth century, and indeed throughout its history, as the result of a failure to clarify the bases of true science. Husserl took issue with the unfounded and contradictory assertion of psychologism that logical laws are simply rules of correct thinking that could be derived from appropriate empirical analyses. Husserl argues that such a naturalistic or psychologistic justification would be circular since science presupposes logic for its procedure: “How can experiences be mutually legitimated or corrected by means of each other, and not merely replace each other or confirm each other subjectively?”43 The purpose of his epoche or bracketing is to clarify the ultimate bases of the sciences. Husserl wanted to find a completely indubitable standard of evidence in the realm of transcendental consciousness. Thus the task of philosophy for Husserl as well as for Stein is to be the science of sciences, working for “the clarification of the basis of all science….44

For Stein, philosophy seeks the same sort of clarification of foundations, although she does not use the epoche as her method in her later works. She draws on Thomas’ designation of wisdom as a perfectum opus rationis, a perfect achievement of reason.45 The philosopher
is not satisfied with a provisional, temporary clarification of the sciences, but wants the ultimate clarification. He or she is entranced by the world of experiences, and is driven by his or her natural desire to know to “break through to the final intelligibility, to Being [Sein] itself, to the structure of being [zum Aufbau des Seienden] as such…”46 This search into what it means to be is metaphysics, named after the title of Aristotle’s work on first philosophy. It is very good and productive to proceed in the natural sciences as always, working out the causal relationships between things, but we need to remember to ask the important question: “But what, then, are things?”47 This is the question behind every metaphysics, from Plato to Heidegger, and is the true meaning of philosophia perennis, often taken to mean a closed system of thought, but more genuinely referring to the irresistible philosophical drive to trace the logos or absolute meaning of the world.48 The philosopher is driven by an inner necessity to ask “what does it mean to be?”

V. The Dependence of Philosophy on Faith

According to Stein, there is a great scandal (a notion she derives from Maritain and Marcel): we cannot penetrate the foundations of Being from natural experience. This is not a mere factual statement, that we have not yet provided a complete account of Being, but is an a priori impossibility: human reason hits a wall when it attempts to get at the foundations of beings. Even if we did know all the causal relationships between beings, the ultimate reason or lack of reason behind the universe would be beyond us. Human reason works in the universe, and the ultimate ground must transcend the universe. We cannot complete the project of first philosophy with our own powers. Revelation affirmed by the virtue of faith may offer answers, but the validity of such an answer is not accessible to human power: faith is a gift of grace.

What is a Christian philosopher to do? “If the philosopher does not want to be untrue to his goal that being be understood from its ultimate foundations, then he is compelled through his faith to expand his consideration beyond the scope of what is naturally accessible to him.”49 The philosopher seeks completeness of understanding, but it appears that such completeness can only be achieved by means of the use of revealed truth.

Philosophy can only find its ultimate completion through faith. In her earlier work about Thomas and Husserl, Stein establishes a formal and material relationship of dependency between philosophy and faith. If faith is indeed the only access to certain truths, philosophy cannot deny it without also repudiating its desire for the most complete and certain truth. Philosophy cannot deny faith without ceasing to be philosophy: “Reason becomes unreason if it wants to stop with what it can discover with its own light and to close its eyes to what maybe visible to it in a higher light.”50 Philosophy claims to be seeking universal truth, and cannot relinquish any area of truth without betraying its goal.

Philosophy is dependent on faith, argues Stein. This may seem to be a shocking statement, but follows from the definitions: if philosophy is a matter of constant seeking,
of striving towards the ultimate ground of Being, if furthermore this search is not a delusion of overarching reason, then perhaps Stein is correct. If faith really exists, if some are given the gift of contact with the divine, and if faith is the only means of reaching something of the
transcendent ground of Being, then it seems that philosophy must allow itself to be dependent on faith. The arguments against Stein’s theory must either dispute the definition of philosophy (perhaps assigning it merely an analytic role), the existence of faith (which as personal gift cannot be disputed), or the logical possibility of the one working with the other.

Stein argues that the partial truth which a faithless philosophy would possess would be compromised, “since, given the organic interrelationship of all truth, any partial stock, when its link to the whole is cut off, can appear in a false light.”51 For example, if I don’t understand physics, my understanding of biology will suffer. A better example is what happens if one has technological expertise but knows nothing of ethics, for just as ethics provides the end for which technology should be used, faith provides the end and final goal of all knowledge. Thus there is a material dependency (that is, according to content) of philosophy on faith.

In addition, there is a relationship of dependency based on certitude. Modem philosophy, in the shadow of Descartes, seeks a standard of indubitable validity. Now for the believer, there is nothing more certain than the testimony of faith, since its truth is guaranteed by God. Any search for certitude must then include and be subject to the ultimate measure of certitude, faith. A Christian philosophy first absorbs the truths of faith (while remaining philosophy; see below) “and [proceeds] further by using them as the final criterion by which to gauge all other truths.”52 So in addition to the material, contentual dependence, there is a formal dependence of philosophy on faith based on certainty.

VI. Is Christian Philosophy Still Philosophy?

How could philosophy be in a relation of dependence on faith and still remain philosophy? Would it not become a subset of theology? Stein attempts to meet this criticism: Christian philosophy may not be a pure and autonomous philosophy, but nevertheless it is still philosophy according to its guiding intention. The goal of philosophy is a foundational understanding of Being and beings. It may use information acquired from revelation, but only for the purposes of expanding and solidifying its hold on this basic task. Stein gives an example: if philosophers attempt to discover the origin of the human soul, they may come up against a block. At this point, Christian philosophers may adopt an answer from
Christian dogma in order to attain a more comprehensive
understanding of Being.53

They use doctrines that they know through the certainty of their faith to supplement what human reason can achieve. They remain philosophers because their overall guiding purpose is philosophical-to understand Being as opposed to the intention of theology which is to understand God.

Stein suggests that we consider a historian of science: if the change of modem physics is depicted through the influence of Einstein’s theory of relativity, then the historian must learn from the natural scientists; his work, however, through which he has worked as a scholar, is not naturally scientific. What is decisive is the guiding design…”54 [Italics mine.]

The historian must study science in order to write a good history, but nevertheless, he or she writes history, not science. Similarly, a philosopher may consider the prologue of the Gospel of John in order to understand the problem of the existence of universals, as Stein does, while continuing to be a philosopher.55 Philosophy remains philosophy because it is concerned with revelation for the sake of an understanding of Being, whereas theology is concerned with revelation for the sake of the truths of revelation.

Christian philosophy does not take the dogmas of faith overblindly, as dei ex machina to provide a crutch when “the going gets tough,” but as unprovable hypotheses to aid
the construction of a true metaphysics. It is impossible to prove creatio ex nihilo, for example, but it can be used to understand the relationship between the universal and the particular. Stein uses this procedure to examine the contingency of Being and the relationships between differentlevels of essence; she goes as far as possible according to phenomenological and conceptual analyses, but when she hits a roadblock, she appeals to faith to fill the gap. The doctrines of faith serve as hypotheses to help to unify the understanding of beings from their foundation. What she does is not theology, according to her, because the guiding intention of the work is not an explanation of the content of revelation, but rather is an exploration of the meaning of Being.

Stein gives an example of how this can work. In chapter three of Endliches und Ewiges Sein, she examines the problem of the one and the many; on the one hand, an examination of finite beings brings us through philosophy to the notion of a First Being, but on the other hand, consideration of the unities of meanings in experience lead to a “multiplicity of ultimate elements of nature.”56 This poses a dilemma: the first cause of Being is one, but the last elements of meaning are many. Stein gives a summary of her view of the use of faith in philosophy:

To attain the understanding of this double face of First Being purely philosophically is not possible because for us there is no intuitive fulfillment of the First Being. Theological consideration can lead to no purely philosophical solution of the philosophical difficulty, that is, to no unevasively conclusive ‘insight.’ However, it opens the prospect of the possibility of a solution beyond the philosophical boundary post corresponding to what is still philosophically graspable, as, on the other side, the philosophical exploration of Being unlocks the meaning of truths of faith.57

Faith presents us with a glimpse of what lies beyond the bounds of reason, a way to deal with philosophical problems that may have no other means of solution. She cautions, however, that faith provides no insight. One can “see” that 2+2=4, and that it must be so; one cannot possess any such vision of the content of faith.

VII. Doctrines of Faith as Hypotheses?

The task of Christian philosophy is first to bring the work of natural reason and the content of revelation into agreement: “it is the task of philosophy to bring to harmony what it has extracted with its particular means with what is offered by faith and theology-in the sense of an understanding of being from its ultimate foundations.”58 The Christian philosopher takes doctrines of the faith, such as creation and the Fall, and uses them to help complete metaphysics, ethics, and the understanding of human nature; such work remains philosophy because of its guiding intention. But there is a second and more important purpose of a Christian philosophy: to prepare the way for non-believers. An unbelieving person may not accept the hypotheses gained by faith, but if he or she is unbiased, he or she will be able to judge the result by its explanatory power. For example, the problem of incontinence (doing the wrong thing while knowing what is right) is extremely puzzling to the philosopher: how could one act against one’s own interests? The Christian philosopher may propose the doctrine of original sin as an explanation. The unbeliever accepts it as a hypothesis, a possible explanation for moral failure. “Whether he [the unbeliever] can agree with59 the synopsis which for the believing philosopher results from natural reason and revelation, should be quietly awaited. If he, thus, is free of prejudice as he should be according to the conviction of the philosopher, then he will not, in any case, recoil from the attempt.”60 [Translation adapted by me.] The unbeliever may decide later to accept the gift of faith based on the philosophical arguments put forward by the Christian philosopher with the help of faith.

A hypothesis derived from faith, then, can provide a likely story to explain problems that philosophers cannot solve by their own methods. But faith provides a second, corrective benefit to philosophy: it can show reasons to doubt the settled positions of philosophers.61 Stein considers, for example, Heidegger’s definition of Dasein:62 “it is ontically distinguished by the fact that in its Being this being is concerned about its very Being.”63 Dasein is anxious before the nothing, and fears for its own Being-in-the-world.64 Resoluteness in the face of death can free Dasein from illusions and allow it to be itself.65 Unfortunately, for Heidegger there is no content to authenticity. We become free to be ourselves, but with no idea what we should be.

Stein can provide through faith an alternate interpretation that can shed some doubt on Heidegger’s conclusions. Perhaps death is not the end of existence, but is the beginning of eternal life. Certainly we cannot know this with scientific certainty, but it is part of faith. In addition, says Stein, one can see that often one who dies takes on the characteristic of a peaceful triumph after a death struggle.66 Perhaps Dasein has been given an eternal destiny, and can find fullness of Being rather than mere resolution. Stein argues that eternal blessedness “is the Being, about which man is concerned in his existence.”67
Was ist das Sein, um das es dem Menschen in seinem Dasein geht. Translation mine.] Resolute Being-towards-death may free us from being lost in what the other does, but it may also free us for something, for eternal life. This is the meaning of the old Christian saying that we ought to remember that we are dust. We are supposed to forget the cares of this world, but only because we have a greater destiny. Stein’s faith can give an alternate explanation
of the phenomenological constitution of humans that shows that Heidegger may have been wrong about the content of resoluteness. Thus, faith as philosophical hypotheses can both give possible explanations as well as give room to doubt other explanations.

Of course, any such motivation to rethink philosophical positions from some aspect of faith is not strictly philosophical. Heidegger may in fact be wrong in his analysis of Dasein, but it is not sufficient merely to say that he might be wrong. A Christian philosophy must be prepared to present a reasoned alternative analysis. The Christian philosopher does not stand at the threshold of modern philosophy shouting “You are wrong!” but rather gives a counter-argument founded in faith, but based in reason. Stein may think Heidegger is wrong because she sees conflicts with her faith in Being and Time, but her alternative explanation works on the basis of judgment and phenomenological analysis. Similarly, her ontological ascent to the divine in Endliches und Ewiges Sein uses theology based on faith to complete the picture of Being, but uses philosophy to undertake the ascent.

VIII. Stein’s Interpretation of Aquinas

Stein interprets St. Thomas’ procedure as working from both natural reason and supernatural reason, or revelation. She depicts him in her dialogue saying, “A rational understanding of the world, that is, a metaphysics-in the end, surely, the intention, tacit or covert, of all philosophy-can be gained only by natural and supernatural reason working together.”68 [Emphasis mine.] In other words, a critical, autonomous philosophy could never succeed, since it would cut itself off from areas of truth. The best philosophy would be one that works from faith and reason together; in fact, there is a relation between them of material and formal dependence. Stein contrasts Thomas’ procedure with Husserl’s as a theocentric philosophy versus an egocentric philosophy. Thomas starts with God, whereas Husserl starts with consciousness:

“For me [Thomas], the first axiom of philosophy… is that
God himself is the first Truth, the principle and criterion of all truth.”69

This interpretation of Thomas’ procedure has been the focus of criticism. Gosebrink complains that Stein incorrectly attributes the theory of the dependence of reason on faith to Aquinas.70 Elders says that she has misunderstood Thomas’ procedure, that he does not use God as a philosophical first axiom, but rather uses insight into the principles of the world in this way:

“Fur Thomas ist das erste philosophische Axiom nicht, daß Gott die erste Wahrheit ist, sondern die Einsicht der Existenz der Welt, unser selbst und der evidenten Seinsprincipien.”71

Volek says that Stein interprets Thomas as being a philosopher at times when he is being a theologian.72 Now in one sense, it is unimportant whether she interprets Thomas correctly: her own philosophical insights and method are the primary matter of concern. Aristotle is not criticized as a philosopher for misinterpreting Plato, but rather in his capacity as a historian of philosophy. Aristotle’s own thoughts and conclusions are far more important than his errors as an interpreter of his teacher. Volek’s criticism is important, however, in another sense. Stein adapts her philosophical procedure to that which she sees in Aquinas. Those who argue that she has misinterpreted Aquinas are attacking the legitimacy of her project to work out a philosophy that makes use of both faith and reason. To say that one is following Aquinas is likely to gain one some degree of respectability, at least in Catholic philosophical circles. The attacks on her interpretation of Thomas are important precisely because she sees herself as following his method in her later writing. If she is wrong about Thomas, the implication is that she is wrong with respect to the truth of the matter.

First, concerning the material and formal dependence of philosophy on faith: Stein admits that this is not to be found in the writings of Aquinas:

“scarcely anything of what I have just been saying about the relation of faith and reason is to be found in St. Thomas’s writings. For him it was all a self-evident starting point.”73

Stein is reflecting on Aquinas’ actual procedure. There are two points at issue: 1) Is there a relationship of dependence between philosophy and faith in Thomas’ work? 3) Is God indeed the first axiom of Thomas’ procedure?

Before answering these objections, it is necessary briefly to consider Thomas’ view of philosophy and theology, since, as Gilson notes, they are not the same as ours.74 In one sense, concerning subject matter, all of Thomas’ work is theological. For Thomas, philosophers consider things according to their own natures, but theologians consider them according to their emergence from God and their last end in God .75 Almost all of Thomas’ writing must be considered theological by this definition, since the concern is to show the nature of God, creatures’ relation to God, and the final end of creation. But philosophy is always used at the service of theology. The science of God is the highest wisdom, and human philosophy serves it, just as geometry or physics serves human philosophy.76 But with regard to his method, at times Thomas does proceed in places as a philosopher
in the modern sense. When the situation calls for it, he proceeds by arguments within the scope of natural reason, especially in the Summa Contra Gentiles; one could not argue from scripture with those who do not accept the truth of scripture. In addition, it would expose the faith to ridicule to attempt to prove the unprovable.” In order to convince those who do not share his faith of its truth, St. Thomas says he will proceed “by bringing forward
both demonstrative and probable arguments, some of which were drawn from the books of the philosophers and of the saints, through which truth is strengthened and its adversary overcome.”77 An examination of Thomas’ philosophical method in this work shows that it
proceeds in an autonomous way, by means of the power of natural reason. For example, even in the difficult case of the eternity of the world, which Thomas did not think could be disproven by natural reason, he does not resort to an answer from scripture. He merely gives a probable dialectical argument, that a good God would show forth his goodness better by creating in time.78

Has Stein misinterpreted Aquinas’ procedure? The answer must be yes and no. The method that she adopts of using the truths of faith as hypotheses to aid in crossing philosophical gaps is not present in the so-called “philosophical Summa” (The Summa Contra Gentiles). In “Philosophy is the search for the ultimate ground of the Being of things, and ends at the doorstep of the divine.” fact, St. Thomas is very careful to avoid the use of scriptural appeals in the stages of argument, although he will conclude with a statement such as “Sacred Scripture bears witness to this truth…”80 Stein is mistaken to assert a material and formal dependence of philosophy on faith in Aquinas’ procedure. Thomas makes use of philosophical reasoning unencumbered by hypotheses drawn from faith. Stein admits this in Endliches und Ewiges Sein, saying “That he believed in a philosophy from the ground of mere natural reason, without the help of revealed truth, is shown in his relationship to Aristotle and the Arabs.”81 [Translation mine.]

But in a sense, Stein has followed Thomas correctly in spirit. We saw that most of Thomas’ work can be called theological, in that it concerns the procession of creatures from God and their return to him as their end. Philosophy, for Thomas, is always at the service of God. In this light, I think Stein understood Thomas precisely. She proceeds as he did, using every tool at her disposal to show the truth of the Catholic faith. Philosophy is the search for the ultimate ground of the Being of things, and ends at the doorstep of the divine. If we understand philosophy according to Stein’s extensive definition, then philosophy must be dependent on faith, because it seeks a completeness that could only come about with the aid of faith, if at all. But we must make a distinction: what Stein calls philosophy Thomas would call theology, since she is concerned with God and creation’s relationship to him. Stein, who admits that she was a newcomer to the study of St. Thomas82 has missed some details of his method, but has grasped the spirit behind the method. Mclnerny says of her understanding of Thomas: “However defective her account may be with respect to the formal difference between philosophy and theology, she has grasped the unity and continuity of the intellectual life and its submersion in the spiritual life.”83 She is a follower of Aquinas in the sense that whatever method she is using, whether philosophical or theological, has as its final end the understanding of God.

What of her claim that St. Thomas’ first philosophical axiom is God as first truth? It is, of course, true that he does not begin arguments with premises containing
divine decrees. God is not an axiom of demonstration. But if we consider St. Thomas’ entire goal in writing and teaching, we will find that God as truth is both at the beginning and the end. One must remember that Thomas Aquinas was a mendicant preacher, not merely a philosophy or theology professor: he lived a life of poverty and asceticism, devoted to the study of God and to passing on the truths gained by this study to others. Torell points out that Thomas not only viewed this active teaching life to be a good life, he viewed this life to be the life that Christ himself led.84 St. Thomas’ faith appears to have been the driving force behind all of his work.

In this sense, Stein is correct to say that the first axiom of philosophy for Thomas is “that God himself is the first Truth, the principle and criterion of all truth.”85 Faith gives Aquinas the motivation for his work, a guide for his procedure, and sets the plan for his work. For example, the arguments about the agent intellect against the Averroists are undertaken to save the possibility of individual salvation; the eternity of the world becomes a problem because it is opposed to the doctrine of creation. To say that God as truth is the axiom of Thomas’ philosophy amounts to the same thing as characterizing it as theology according to his definition from In II Sententariuin, quoted above. Theology in Thomas’ sense, Christian philosophy according to Stein, “must take God as its object. It must set forth the idea of God and the meaning of his being; moreover, the relationship to God of whatever else that exists, in its essence and existence, and the relationship to the divine knowledge of the knowledge of other knowing beings.”86 Stein has adopted this aim as her own, so that Kaufmann correctly refers to Endliches und Ewiges Sein as a “Summa,”87 since in it Stein uses whatever methods are available to investigate the ultimate truth of  Being, which is God. In the end, for Stein and Aquinas, it is not so important how one reaches the truth, but only that one reaches it.

IX. Stein’s Place in Christian Philosophy

Nedoncelle gives a description of possible forms of Christian philosophy that is useful for the placement of Stein’s work. There are four possible forms: 1) a Christian philosophy that is a preparation to faith: after pursuing the philosophical course, it is natural that one comes to faith. This view reduces philosophy to to a subcatechism, and has the flaw of minimizing the necessity for a gift of faith. 2) A Christian philosophy could be one that has developed under the influence of Christianity, that takes its lead from the dogmas of faith, and sometimes develops demonstrations to prove them. This can reduce the relationship of philosophy and faith to an accidental one of historical coincidences. 3) A Christian philosophy could be one that inherits positions from Christianity, as western philosophy has developed the notion of the person from the Trinity and various moral prohibitions from the ten commandments. Once again, the relationship becomes something merely accidental.88

The final possibility, and the one that is closest to Stein’s position, is that “a Christian philosophy is one which relates itself to Christianity as to an order which is
different from it and superior to it.”89 A Christian philosophy is a philosophy that proceeds by its own lights as far as it can, discovers that there is a void in its understanding,
and makes way for the possibility of a revelation that would fill the void. As philosophy, it proceeds by means of reason. But reason finds that it cannot complete the project of philosophy, which is to have an integrative knowledge of the entirety of beings. So it recognizes the possibility of supplementation by an external source. This is the Blondelian position, says Nedoncelle, and is also the Rahnerian position: a Christian philosophy is one that “refers beyond itself and invites us to assume the attitude of listening to an eventual revelation.”90

Stein does something similar by using the tools of phenomenology and scholastic philosophy to seek out the meaning of Being, while acknowledging the ultimate limit of this approach. Philosophy will always remain at the doorstep to the divine, since there can be no insight. But Stein goes further, however, than Rahner: when she comes to the void in our understanding, she does not just admit the possibility of a revelation, but embraces this revelation as providing a completeness that philosophy cannot supply. The doctrines of faith are not proposed to the reader as facts to be assented to, but as possible solutions or likely stories to explain philosophical problems. The reader is free to accept them or not, consequent on receiving the gift of faith. Stein’s philosophy, then, maintains the distinction between the work of philosophy and the content of faith, but does not set up an artificial boundary. If reason is to seek the comprehension of all beings, it cannot shut itself off from faith. Stein’s later work is indeed philosophical in the manner of its investigation, but it recognizes and embraces the completion that can be given to it by faith.

Stein’s work has some affinities with the work of the so-called “transcendental Thomists” such as Marechal, Rousselot, and Rahner. Whereas the aforementioned philosophers emphasized the necessity of a natural aptitude for God in the human intellect, in Endliches und Ewiges Sein, Stein focuses on the necessary dependence on divine Being that human consciousness finds within itself, the apparent existence of intellectual entities, as well as the final causality present within us that cannot easily be explained without reference to God. So Stein shares the transcendental emphasis on what must be true for humans to exist as they do, but is less dependent on St. Thomas for her final positions; she cannot be considered strictly a Thomist, despite the deep influence of Aquinas on her thought.

X. Conclusion

How should the unbeliever receive Stein’s philosophy? What good is this sort of philosophy that makes use of the doctrines of faith to the unbeliever, even if they are used only as hypotheses? We have seen that the possibilities raised by Christian philosophy can help give likely explanations and can cast doubt on other explanations. But why should the unbeliever pay any attention? Can those without faith gain anything from the Christian philosophy of Edith Stein?

Marianne Sawicki has remarked that from a phenomenologial point of view, the post-baptismal work of Stein is lacking insightfulness, in the Husserlian sense:

“Stein relinquished (or abdicated) the capacity of her own flowing to register the coherence of an argument…. There can be no phenomenological intelligibility to such a choice.”91

In a work of phenomenology, one follows the description of some phenomenon in the hope that through reflection one will gain an Anschauung or insight into the essence of the thing. Stein notes that this insight does not occur as some sort of magical vision, but is the result of hard philosophical work: “the phenomenologist does not sit down at his desk to await mystical enlightenment, but that it is a question of acquiring ‘insights’ through painstaking intellectual effort.”92 This is the meaning of the Husserlian motto “Back to the things
themselves!” The phenomenologist looks for insights into the essences of experiences. Sawicki’s complaint is that no such insights arise in the Christian philosophy of Edith Stein.

But knowledge gained by faith is, according to its very nature, lacking in such insights. Faith gives knowledge of the divine, which surpasses the comprehension of any created intellect. It is knowledge because it has the highest certainty of all, but it does not provide an intuitive glimpse of its object. Stein says “Though the philosopher can work with this ‘dark light’ of faith and mystery, philosophical intelligibles are only left in an unintelligible background, an ungroundable ultimate ground of all  being.”93 Any Christian philosophy is going to touch on areas of mystery. Consider Stein’s earlier example of the historian of science who discusses Einstein’s theory: the theory will be mysterious to those readers who are not well-versed in physics, just as the philosophy of the ultimate ground of being will be mysterious to those to whom the fullness of God is not present (which certainly includes all humans). One would not reject the history of science out of hand, merely because the subject matter is beyond one’s knowledge. Similarly, it would be an error just to dismiss a Christian philosophy because it speaks of things beyond the realm of experience. This would be the fallacy of ignorance. Thus, the non-believer cannot have any objection to the reading of a work of Christian philosophy based only on the inaccessibility of some insights.

It would indeed be a problem if Stein insisted that non-believers accept the inclusions from faith. But Stein does not make such a demand. Stein herself notes that because of the inability of insight to reach to the essence of God, the arguments of her Christian philosophy can never be indisputable, but can only be suggestive. Stein says “Theological consideration can lead to no purely philosophical solution of the philosophical difficulty, that is, to no unevasively conclusive ‘insight.’ However, it opens the prospect of the possibility of a solution beyond the philosophical boundary post. …”94
There is no claim to the construction of ironclad proofs incapable of being doubted. Stein is limited in her claims, and so can succeed within these limits. The philosophical inclusion of items drawn from faith is not supposed to be conclusive, but persuasive. It is in this light that Stein’s work in Endliches und Ewiges Sein must be viewed: it is an attempt to show that the universe of beings, meanings, and pure forms makes more sense when viewed in the light of a creator. This is an attractive solution, but one that must be accepted or rejected according to the faith of the hearer. Because it proposes to go beyond the extent of reason, Stein’s appeal to the content of faith must stay in the realm of suggestion, not proof. But if one is open to the possibility of faith as a legitimate source of knowledge, then Stein’s philosophical inclusion of this content of faith can be of great value.


1 John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (1998), #74.
2 Edith Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” in Knowledge and Faith, vol. VIII, trans. Walter Redmond,
The Collected Works of Edith Stein (Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 2000), 1-63.
3 Edith Stein, Endliches und Ewiges Sein, vol. II of Edith Steins Werke (Freiburg: Herder, 1950).
4 The English language lacks the tools necessary to express the distinctions between “a being” (ens, Seiend)
and the act of being (esse, Sein). I will use the word “being” to refer to the entity that is, and will capitalize the word
to refer to the is. Thus “das Sein des Seienden” would become “the Being of a being.” If I speak of the meaning of
being, I am referring to the structure that is common to all entities. If I speak of the meaning of Being, I am speaking
of that by which all beings “be.”
5 Stein, Endliches und Ewiges Sein, 24.
6 English translations of Endliches und Ewiges Sein will be from an unpublished translation by Augusta
Gooch, unless otherwise noted.
7 Karl-Heinz Lembeck, “Glaube Im Wissen? Zur Aporetischen Grundstruktur der Spatphilosophie Edith
Steins,” in Denken Im Dialog: Zur Philosophie Edith Steins, ed. Waltraud Herbstrith (Tubingen: Attempto Verlag, 1991), 170.
8 Hildegard Maria Gosebrink, “Edith Stein. Philosophie auf dem Hintergrund von Thomas v. Aquin und
Edmund Husserl.” (Wurzburg: Julius-Maximilians-Universitat, 1995), 77-78.
9 Edith Stein, Einfuhrung in die Philosophic, vol. XIII of Edith Steins Werke (Freiburg: Herder, 1991), 36.
10 Edith Stein, “Was istPhilosophie? Ein Gesprach Zwischen Edmund Husserl und Thomas von Aquino,” in
Erkenntnis und Glaube, ed. Michale Linsenn O.C.D. and Lucy Gelber, Vol. XV of Edith Steins Werke (Freiburg: Herder, 1993), 19-48.
11 Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” 16A.
12 Ibid., 17.
13 Ibid., 13A.
14 Edith Stein, “Die Ontische Struktur der Person und Ihre Erkenntcustheoretische Problematic,” in Welt und
Person, Beitrdg Zum Christlichen Wahrheitsstreben, vol. VI of Edith Steins Werke (Freiburg: Herder, 1962), 188.
15 St Thomas Aquinas, Truth, trans. Robert W. Mulligan (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1952), Q.14, 2c.
16 Ibid., Q. 14, a.l, ad.7.
17 Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” 21A.
18 Stein, Endliches und Ewiges Sein, 29. 19Ibid., 23-24.
20 Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” 20A.
21 Gosebrink, “Edith Stein. Philosophic auf dem Hintergrund von Thomas v. Aquin und Edmund Husserl,” 34.
22 Stein, “Die Ontische Struktur der Person und Ihre Erkenntnisttheoretische Problematic,” 186.
23 Ibid., 187.
24 Ibid.
25 Ibid., 188.
26 Ibid.
27 Ibid., 189.
28 Ibid., 188.
29 Edith Stein, “Die Seelenburg,” in Welt und Person, Beitrag Zum Christlichen Wahrheitsstreben, vol. VI of Edith
Steins Werke (Freiburg: Herder, 1962), 67.
30 Stein, “Die Ontische Struktur der Person und Ihre Erkenntnisttheoretische Problematic,” 192.
31 Ibid.
32 Ibid., 189.
33 Ibid.
34 Ibid., 192.
35 Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” 21A.
36 Stein, Endliches und Ewiges Sein, 15.
37 Plato, Complete Works (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1997), Letter VII, 344c.
38 Aristotle, Metaphysics, in The Complete Works of Aristotle (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 982bllff.
39 Stein, Endliches und Ewiges Sein, 15.
40 Ibid., 16.
41 Ibid., 17.
42 Note that Dr. Gooch’s translation does not capitalize the word “Being” to mark the difference between Sein
and das Seiend. I have changed the capitalization here and will continue to do so for clarity.
43 Edmund Husserl, Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy, trans. Quentin Lauer (New York: Harper and
Row, 1965), 87.
44 Stein, Endliches und Ewiges Sein, 19.
45 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Westminister: Encyclopxdia Britannica,1952), 11-11 Q.45, a. 2.
46 Stein, Endliches und Ewiges Sein, 20.
47 Husserl, op. cit., 97.
48 Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” 7A.
49 Stein, Endliches und Ewiges Sein, 23.
50 Ibid.
51 Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” 17A.
52 Ibid., 18A.
53 Stein, Endliches und Ewiges Sein, 25.
54 Ibid.
55 Ibid., 111-12.
56 Ibid., 115-16.
55 Ibid., 116.
58 Ibid., 24.
59 mitvollziehen: the sense is stronger than “agree with,”more like “co-perform.” Gooch uses “posit.”
60 Stein, Endliches und Ewiges Sein, 30.
61 This line of thought was suggested to me in conversation by Dr. Alasdair McIntyre.
62 Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, translated by Joan Stambaugh (Albany: State University of New York
Press, 1996), 12 [German pagination].
63 I have adjusted the capitalization to be in line with my use of “being” for “Seiend” and “Being” for “Sein.”
64 Heidegger, op. cit., 186-87.
65 Ibid., 266.
66 Edith Stein, “Martin Heideggers Existentialphilosophie,” in Welt und Person, Beitrdg Zum Christlichen Wahrheitsstreben,
vol. VI of Edith Steins Werke (Freiburg: Herder, 1962), 106.
67 Ibid., 110.
68 Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” 19A.
69 Ibid., 29A.
70 Hildegard Maria Gosebrink, “Wissenschaft Als Gottesdienst: Zur Bedeutung Thomas’ von Aquin Fur
Edith Stein in Ihrer Speyerer Zeit (1923-1931),” in Das Christentum, edited by Jose Sanchez de Murillo, Edith-SteinJahrbuch
(Wiirzburg: Echter, 1998), 525.
71 Leo J. Elders, “Edith Stein und Thomas von Aquin,” in Edith Stein: Leben, Philosophic, Vollendung. Abhandlungen
Des Internationalen Edith-Stein-Symposiums, Rolduc, 2.-4. November 1990, edited by Leo J. Elders (Wiirzburg: Nauman, 1991), 260.
72Peter Volek, Erkenntnistheorie bei Edith Stein, Metaphysische Grundlagen der Erkenntnis bei Edith Stein Im Vergleich
zu Husserl und Thomas von Aquin (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1998), 197.
73 Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” 20B.
74 Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, translated by L. K. Shook (Notre Dame:
University of Notre Dame Press, 1994), 9.
75 In II Sententiarum: Prologue; compare also Summa Contra Gentiles 11.4.1-2 : Philosophi enim creaturas considerant,
secundum quod in propria natura consistunt; unde proprias causas et passiones rerum inquirunt: sed theologus considerat creaturas, secundum
quod a primo principio exierunt, et in finem ultimum ordinantur qui dens est.
76 St. Thomas Aquinas, Creation, vol. II of Summa Contra Gentiles, translated by James Anderson (Notre Dame:
University of Notre Dame Press, 1975), II Q.4, a.4.
77 Aquinas, ST, I Q. 46, a.3.
78 St. Thomas Aquinas, God, Vol. I of Summa Contra Gentiles, translated by Anton C. Pegis (Notre Dame: University
of Notre Dame Press, 1975), 1 q. 9, a 3.
79 Aquinas, Creation, II Q. 35, a. 8.
80 Ibid., II Q. 39, a. 8.
81 Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” 13.
82 Ibid., xiii.
83 Ralph McInerny, “Edith Stein and Thomism,” in Edith Stein Symposium: Teresian Culture, edited by John Sullivan
(Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1987), 78.
84 Jean-Pierre Torell, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Vol. I The Person and His Work, trans. R. Royal (Washington, D.C.:
The Catholic University of America Press, 1996), 89.
85 Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” 29A.
86 Ibid.
87 Fritz Kaufmann, “Review of Endliches und Ewiges Sein,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 12 (1952): 27.
88 Maurice Nedoncelle, Is There a Christian Philosophy? trans. Illtyd Trethowan (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1960), 100-05.
89 Ibid., 106.
90 Karl Rahner, Hearer of the Word, ed. Andrew Tallon, trans. Joseph Donceel (New York: Continuum, 1994), 16.
91 Marianne Sawicki, Body, Text, and Science: The Literacy of Investigative Practices and the Phenomenology of Edith Stein
(Boston: Kluwer Academic Press, 1997), 218.
92 Stein, “Husserl and Aquinas: A Comparison,” 40-41B.
93 Stein, Endliches und Ewiges Sein, 25-26.
94 Ibid., 116.