Edith Stein

Thank you Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Edith Stein Knowledge and Faith

More than a decade ago, as the earliest shoots of my writing broke through the ground, I described what I was about to say as a journey on a trail. I was making the point that the subjective nature of my own experience did not contradict the objective nature of the road itself. I explained that those of us traveling would see different things, see the same things differently, make different mental notes, and be inspired by different views; however, that did not take away from the objective nature of the trail, nor the necessity of staying on it in order to reach our destination safely. Subjective experiences, each of us experiencing the journey differently, did not contradict the objective certainty of dogmatic faith, the necessity of the trail.

That was the best I could do. The philosophy behind such a proposition was beyond me. I have waited patiently for over a decade to find the mental and philosophical map to confirm my intuition.

Enter Edith Stein (now St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), a Jewish philosopher, convert to Catholicism, and Carmelite nun executed at Auschwitz because of her Jewish heritage. Removed earlier to the Netherlands where it was thought to be safer, she continued her philosophical work until the day the Nazis removed her from her convent cell.

In her last years, with the threat of Nazi death gradually encircling her mortal life, she made it her philosophical mission to reconcile her Phenomenological formation under Edmund Husserl with that of medieval Scholasticism, namely that of Thomas Aquinas.

Edith accomplished her mission, brilliantly. She demonstrated how the subjective nature of Phenomenology, the “seeing things differently on the trail” can be reconciled with the objective nature of dogmatic faith and rigorous Scholasticism, the trail leading to our destination.

My prayers have been answered. Edith Stein struggled with my same dilemma. Thankfully she blessed all of us through her mind-talents with this magnificent finale. My own experience had been subjectively Phenomenological. My faith was Scholastic and dogmatic. How to reconcile?

Thank you Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.


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