Edith Stein’s Philosophy of Community in her Early Work and in her Later Finite and Eternal Being: Martin Heidegger’s Impact
Philosophy & Theology
Edith Stein’s early phenomenological texts describe community as a special unity that is fully lived through in consciousness. In her later works, unity is described in more theological terms as participation in the communal fullness and wholeness of God or Being. Can these two accounts of community or human belonging be reconciled? I argue that consciousness can bring to the fore the meaning of community, thereby conditioning our lived-experience of community, but it can also, through Heideggerian questioning, uncover that which remains somewhat hidden from consciousness itself: its own ground or condition of possibility, namely, being—a being that is both one and many, unified, communalised, and very diversified. If my reading of Stein is correct, the traditional understanding of the split between Stein’s strictly Husserlian/phenomenological period and her later Christian philosophical period must be renegotiated, at least when it comes to the philosophical problem of community or human togetherness.