Volume 94, Issue 4, Fall 2020
Edith Stein’s Conception of Human Unity and Bodily Formation
A Thomistically Informed Understanding
The problem of human unity lies at the heart of Edith Stein’s investigation of the structure of human nature in her mature works. By examining her resolution of this problem in Der Aufbau der menschlichen Person and Endliches und ewiges Sein, I show how Stein incorporates two teachings of Thomistic anthropology—namely, the rational soul as principle both of substantial unity and of bodily formation—while reinterpreting the meaning of these teachings through performing a fresh phenomenological investigation. Although this investigation leads Stein to propose a conceptually different explanation of human unity and bodily formation than that given by Aquinas, I argue that this difference should not be understood as if Stein and Aquinas stand squarely opposed on these important anthropological questions, but rather that Stein’s proposal lies in decisive continuity with the received teachings of Aquinas even while it represents an expanded conception of these teachings that also includes some contrast and disagreement.