Volume 46, Issue 2, June 2006
Edith Stein’s Understanding of Woman
This essay looks at Edith Stein’s descriptions of the fundamental equality, yet distinct differences between women and men, and attempts to make clear the ontology underlying her claims. Stein’s position—although drawing from the general Aristotelian-Thomistic position—differs from Thomas Aquinas’s, and she understands gender as tied significantly to our form or soul. The particular way in which gender is “written into” our soul, however, differs from the way in which both our humanity and individuality are tied to our soul. Thus, Stein wants to account for gender in a way that does not attribute it primarily to biology, nor does she understand gender as merely socially-constructed. Rather, gender is a significant part of our soul, yet not in such a way that either our common humanity or
our distinct individuality are compromised.