Volume 82, Issue 1, Winter 2008
Terrence C. Wright
Artistic Truth and the True Self in Edith Stein
This paper explores Stein’s treatment of truth and art as a way of approaching her philosophy of the self. Stein argues that one can distinguish between the truth
of what something is and the truth of what something ought to be. She maintains that the work of art helps us to understand this distinction because it can serve as a revelation of the truth of what something is, but the work of art only succeeds when it also reflects what its subject ought to be. Stein makes an analogous distinction regarding the self as it is and as it ought to be. In her anthropology she argues that human beings are individuated not only by matter but also by form and that understanding our individuating form is the key to becoming the person we ought to be. Stein develops the theory that persons are called to be their true selves through their relationship to the divine. The paper argues that for Stein art and life are related in such a way that striving to be one’s true self transforms
one’s life into a work of art.