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Tang Chun-I Visiting Professorship Department Seminar: The Phenomenological Philosophy of Edith Stein


In this lecture I will introduce the phenomenological philosophy of Edith Stein (1891-1942), who was perhaps the most important female student of Edmund Husserl. Besides editing Husserl’s own texts (especially Ideas II), she was an original phenomenological thinker in her own right with striking accounts of embodiment, feelings and emotions (influenced by Scheler), empathy, the nature of the person and the meaning of spiritual life. She was a convert to Christianity and eventually became a Carmelite nun. As a Jew, she was martyred by the German National Socialists in  Auschwitz in 1942. During her life, she was an activist who campaigned for women’s rights in the workplace and especially for women’s higher education. Stein is known philosophically primarily for her doctoral thesis, Zum Problem der Einfühlung /On the Problem of Empathy (1917; Stein Gesamtausgabe vol. 3), and for her contribution as research assistant (1916-1918) to Edmund Husserl, including editing his Ideas II (published posthumously in 1952 as Husserliana II). But she also published elaborate metaphysical texts, notably Potency and Act (1931) and Finite and Eternal Being (1935). Stein was in vigorous philosophical dialogue, as a respected equal, with leading philosophers of her day, especially Husserl, Scheler, Heidegger, Hedwig Conrad Martius, Roman Ingarden, Jacques Maritain, among others. Her work contains original approaches to empathy, embodiment, the phenomenology of emotional life, the unique nature of the person, the structure of social and collective intentionality, the nature of the state. In her later work, she developed an original philosophy of being and essence (including a defense of ‘individual essences’) that united the resources of phenomenology and Thomist metaphysics.



Stein, E. (1989). Zum Problem der Einfühlung. (Halle, 1917; reprinted München: Gerhard Kaffke Verlag, 1980). Trans. by W. Stein, On the Problem of Empathy. 3rd revised edition. Washington, D.C.: ICS Publication.]

Stein, E. (1922). Beiträge zur philosophischen Begründung der Psychologie und der Geisteswissenschaften. ESGA, Bd. 6. Freiburg, Basel, Wien: Herder 2010. [Engl.: Philosophy of Psychology and the Humanities. The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 7. Transl. by M. C. Baseheart, M. Sawicki, Washington D.C.: ICS Publications]

Stein, E. (1931). Potenz und Akt: Studien zu einer Philosophie des Seins, ESGA, Vol. 10, Wien, Basel, Köln: Herder 2005. [Potency and Act. Studies toward a Philosophy of Being. Edith Stein Collected Works, Vol. 11. Transl. by W. Redmond, Washington D.C.: ICS Publications 2009.]


Delivered in English
All are welcome