McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
faith, ontic core, phenomenology, reason, search, truth
The philosopher Edith Stein (1891-1942) never set down formally an ethical plan. However, in Stein's professional and personal texts, "ethic" is defined as a harmonious matching of internal thoughts and beliefs with external actions, while always moving toward truth. This dissertation seeks to identify the essential components of Stein's ethic.
A search of Stein's philosophical, personal, and autobiographical works suggests that Edmund Husserl, Max Scheler, Adolf and Anna Reinach, Teresa of Avila, and Thomas Aquinas had profound impact on the formation of Stein's ethical stance that included her use of reason as well as faith. Elements of phenomenology and of faith contribute significantly to Stein's ethical framework.
Informed by reason and faith, Stein's ethic is characterized by a fluid and ongoing search for truth that combines a perceiving of a phenomenon of truth, an honoring of relationships, an unfolding of one's personal core, and openness to new horizons. According to Stein's schema, the psychophysical person is comprised of physical, emotional, and mental levels which he/she uses in unfolding his/her personal core or ontic blueprint. The soul, specifically the personal core, individuates the human person. It is at this personal core that God's gifts of nature and grace are found; a person must recognize and use these gifts if his/her potential is to become a reality. It is only when these gifts are used and shared with the cosmic community that human beings move toward the redeemed order wherein all is in right relationship.
In 1933 Stein wrote a letter to Pope Pius XI, asking for an official denunciation of Hitler. She initiated the writing of her mother's memoirs, which later became her own reminiscences; here she gave witness to the truth of Jewish life as she experienced it. Finally, Stein unfolded her personal core by entering Carmel and offering her life as a sacrifice for all people. These actions are evidence that Stein had an ethic by which she strove to integrate her internal thoughts and beliefs with her external actions.
Parsons, J. (2005). Edith Stein: Toward an Ethic of Relationship and Responsibility (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1019