Volume 9, Issue 2, Spring 2019
Sr. Maria Gemma Salyer
The Unfolding of Gender in the Human Person
Contributions of Edith Stein
This essay evaluates the role of gender in the human person. According to the Thomistic account, gender is an accident of the material body. I suggest that the Thomistic account is in need of revision and examine a modified Thomistic account presented by John Finley, which establishes gender as an inseparable accident stemming from the soul. Finley’s account, which strives to remain faithful to Thomism, is closer to the essentialist position offered by personalist philosopher Edith Stein. I present Stein’s account of gender as essential by focusing on two poignant claims made by Stein: (1) that gender relates to the essence of the person as it unfolds from a spiritual core and (2) that human nature is comprised of a dual species, male and female. I argue that these two claims serve to establish Stein’s essentialist position regarding gender.