Volume 4, Issue 1, Fall 2013
Selected Papers on The Legacy of Edith Stein’s Finite and Eternal Being
David M. Cudnik
How did Homer know Achilles? The Artist as Friend and Parent in Edith Stein’s Finite and Eternal Being
A central distinction which guides Edith Stein’s aesthetics is the distinction between Urbild, or pure form, which is the source of artistic inspiration and Abbild, which is the completed work of art whose source is the Urbild. The exemplary work of art is one which is a clear communication of the Urbild that it copies. The work of art therefore springs from the artist’s knowledge of the Urbild. However, it is not knowledge of a conceptual kind but rather of an essential kind. The human relationship that manifests this distinct kind of knowledge is friendship. In the execution of the work of art, the artist painstakingly constructs a manifestation of the Urbild. In this, the artist resembles a parent who assists the child in calling forth the underlying essence of the child. Thus the knowledge and activity of the artist, as Stein describes it, have analogues in the human relationships of friendship and parenthood, respectively. In the following paper, I will describe how the artist resembles both friend and parent in more detail.