This book is far more interesting than I thought it would be. I’ve read her three most important works and am working on the fourth. I set this one aside because I’m not really interested in psychology itself; I’m interested in Stein’s phenomenology. But this is going to be a real page turner.
I do not think that the world understands the enormity of Edith Stein’s contributions to life. Few know that Edith Stein is one of six patron saints of Europe, one of three women: St. Bridget, St. Catherine of Sienna, and St. Edith Stein.
Stein was an atheist Jewish woman who turned from atheism to whateverism while studying under Edmund Husserl, the father of modern day phenomenology. She was contemporary to another famous student of Husserl’s, Martin Heidegger, with whom she shared ideas. Stein is said to be the main editor of Husserl’s Ideas despite Heidegger getting more of the credit. She advocated for women’s rights, was neither royalist nor republican – just a loyal German.
Despite her voluminous writings and prestigious associates, she converted to the Catholic faith by reading one book over the course of one night – The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, the foundress of the Discalced Carmelite Order (the same as St. Thérèse of Lisieux). Edith became a Carmelite nun, later was taken by the Nazis from her convent, and executed at Auschwitz.
She converted because she sought truth, and she recognized it in Teresa of Avila’s story. This is one of her great contributions to modernity – the desire to seek truth. I always took it for granted that people were seeking for truth. In modern society I have come to the conclusion that most people are not. Most, I think, have given up on the idea of truth for a Nietzschian nihilism.
Stein can kindle in us the desire for truth, a desire the world has long since abandoned.