Volume 4, Issue 1, Fall 2013
Selected Papers on The Legacy of Edith Stein’s Finite and Eternal Being
Faith, Reason, and the Place of ‘Christian Philosophy’ in Edith Stein
Paul Ricoeur claims that the tradition of philosophy is Greek by birth and, as such, encounters the Hebrew and the Christian always as an ‘other.’ The contemporary philosopher approaching issues of faith in the Judeo-Christian tradition, true to his or her Greek philosophical origins, can only approach the content of faith and the experience of the believer in a neutralized form and not in the mode of positive belief, rendering the idea of an explicitly ‘Christian philosophy’ impossible. In contrast, the philosopher Edith Stein argues for a strikingly different conclusion. Faith, entering into the framework of philosophical discussion, does not require a neutralization but stands as an authentic source of knowledge and phenomenological experience of God without which philosophy remains fundamentally impoverished on a variety of fronts. ‘Christian philosophy,’ for Stein, is not only a possibility, but is a philosophical necessity for the ultimate success of the philosophical project as a whole. This paper explores the nature of Christian philosophy, as articulated by Stein in Finite and Eternal Being and her essay, “Ways to Know God,” in its relation to Greek thought; in particular, the way in which philosophy is naturally dependent upon faith, and the way in which faith forms the positive basis for a fulfilled intention of God that can be worked into philosophical analysis without violating the nature of philosophy.