Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 15, 2015

Early Phenomenology

Francesca De Vecchi
Pages 303-330

Edith Stein’s Social Ontology of the State, the Law and Social Acts: An Eidetic Approach

In her Investigation Concerning the State (1925), Edith Stein takes up some of the main ideas of the social ontology presented by Adolf Reinach (1913), and develops a social ontology of the state, of the law and of social acts. I argue that Stein’s social ontology is an eidetics of the state, the law and social acts. Stein identifies the essential relations that constitute the state, the law and social acts, i.e. pinpoints the parts upon which the state, the law and social acts existentially depend as wholes. In doing so, Stein applies Husserl’s account of wholes and parts to the social domain. I also suggest that Stein outlines a regional ontology of sociality that embodies Husserl’s idea of regional ontology. I focus on the intertwining of the wholes-parts relations, which characterize Stein’s regional ontology of sociality, and argue that there are not only necessary but also possible parts within the wholes. This makes Stein’s regional ontology of the sociality a dynamic ontology.