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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 82, Issue 1, Winter 2008

Edith Stein

Sarah Borden Sharkey
Pages 87-103
DOI: 10.5840/acpq200882121

Edith Stein and Thomas Aquinas on Being and Essence

In her later philosophical writings, Stein works to synthesize the medieval scholastic tradition and contemporary phenomenology. Stein draws heavily from Thomas Aquinas’s work so that the prevalence of positive references to Thomas have led many to read Stein as a Thomist. On critical questions regarding being and essence, however, Stein is not a Thomist. In addition to mental and actual being, she also affirms essential being, which is properly the being of intelligibilities as well as potencies. Essential being is never separate from an entity with either mental or actual being, but it is a distinct type of being. In this essay, I attempt to contrast briefly Stein’s account of being and essence with Thomas’s position and to bring out the way in which Stein’s affirmation of essential being leads her in a more Scotist than Thomist direction, at least on questions related to essences and universals.

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