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A Philosophical Resonance: Hedwig Conrad-Martius Versus Edith Stein

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Hedwig Conrad-Martius

Part of the book series: Women in the History of Philosophy and Sciences ((WHPS,volume 8))

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Abstract

This chapter seeks to unearth the philosophical resonance of the ideas of Hedwig Conrad-Martius’(HCM) with Edith Stein’s thinking and thus to add an element of content to the better-known personal relations between the two phenomenologists. Here, resonance has two meanings. The first is phenomenological and apparent in manifestation of a spiritual communality between the two philosophers. The second relates to the constitutive establishing of a new hermeneutical framework from which new possibilities might emerge for understanding the ideas under discussion. The discussion starts with presenting Conrad-Martius’s and Stein’s basic stance regarding core metaphysical aspects that serve as an introduction to the idea of the I, the explication of which within the writing of both philosophers occupies the bulk of the discussion in this chapter. The discussion presents the dual structure of the I in the thinking of both Conrad-Martius and Stein and analyzes their different stances toward it: While the former regards it as an utmost indication of the realism of the I, the latter illuminates its reconciliation within the Christian religious faith.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The above quotation is taken from the ending essay (without title) by HCM that was added to the volume of the collected letters of Stein to HCM. The essay is based on a lecture that HCM delivered to the Society for Christian-Jewish Collaboration. See especially: HCM (1960, 74).

  2. 2.

    Herbstrith describes Stein’s stay with Conrad-Martius before her baptism, see: Herbstrith (1972, 24–25).

  3. 3.

    This recalls Levinas’ statement: “To meet a man is to be kept awake by an enigma”, however, “Upon meeting Husserl, the enigma was always that of his work” (Levinas 1998, 111. Cited from: Kenaan, 2016, 481; 2018, 17).

  4. 4.

    I have addressed the issue of philosophical resonance regarding Husserl and other figures within the phenomenological discourse. See: Miron (2016b, 2016c).

  5. 5.

    Avé-Lallemant testified that after her religious experiences at the beginning of 1920s (in concomitant with Stein’s), HCM had a big auto-da-fé and in 1929 she burned her poetic writings from that period, see: Avé-Lallemant (2015, 79 n. 45).

  6. 6.

    This aspect of the I is widely discussed in the previous chapter that is dedicated to the duality of the I in HCM’s thinking.

  7. 7.

    For further reading about the relations between HCM and Stein, see: Avé-Lallemant (2015).

  8. 8.

    The above-used expression, hermeneutical efficiency, is inspired by, yet not equivalent to, the Gadamerian “Principle of History of Effect” (Wirkungsgeschichte) that requires “an inquiry into history of effect every time a work of art or an aspect of the traditions is led out of the twilight region between tradition and history so that it can be seen clearly and openly in terms of its own meaning” (Gadamer, 2004, 299).

  9. 9.

    Baseheart emphasizes Stein’s “divergence from Husserl who insisted on philosophy being radically new, a ‘science of beginning’” (Baseheart, 1997, 23–24) and “rare respect for other thinkers – even for those with whom she differed greatly. Yet, Stein remained faithful to Husserl’s idea of presuppositionlessness, excluding preconceived theories and ‘naive’ premises” (Baseheart, 1997, 123ff.).

  10. 10.

    HCM expresses her commitment to the “Existence thesis” also in: HCM (1916, 396; 1963c, 233).

  11. 11.

    For further reading on HCM’s ontology, see: Miron (2017, 99–101), Mohanty (1977, 3–9). HCM later admitted that Husserl never rejected or doubted the reality of the world but regarded it as a hypothetical being (HCM, 1965a, 398). However, unlike Husserl, HCM does not see any problem with the empirical experience (HCM, 1965e, 351) and even regards the then new natural sciences as elucidating the real foundations of such experience (HCM, 1965a, 401).

  12. 12.

    HCM refers to Husserl’s phrase “nulla ‘re’ indiget ad existendum” on several occasions, see: HCM (1916aN, 1, 3, Parker, 2019, 217–218; 1963e, 21; 1963a, 195; 1963c, 229; 1965c, 370; 1965e, 353). In connection to the first mention from 1916, which is considered as an indication of HCM’s response to Husserl’s Ideas I (Husserl, 1952a, 2012a) Stein indicates (in a letter to Ingarden from 9 April 1917) that HCM’s “notes on the question of Idealism […] are however, not a refutation of Husserl’s position. In fact, the main argument seems to me to be based on a misunderstanding of his exposition” (Stein, 2001, 53; 2005, 58). However, this evaluation of Stein seems to communicate her general attitude to Husserl’s phenomenology than illuminate HCM’s view of the matter that in this regard can be encapsulated in her fundamental “thesis of existence (Daseinsthesis)” that she discussed throughout the entire early manuscript (HCM, 1916N, 5–8, 11–12). Moreover, HCM further elaborates this thesis in her subsequent writings, that were established on the “unbridgeable and absolute opposition between real being and nothing” (HCM, 1923, 162; see here also: HCM, 1963d, 93–94) and on the postulate that “real existence is not one ‘form of existence’ (Daseinsform) among others but something plainly and absolutely new thing (Neues)” (HCM, 1923, 163). Finally, HCM’s explicit rejection of Husserl transcendental reduction in favor her above-discussed idea of real reality (wirkich Wirklichkeit) clarifies her dismissal of the most essential foundation of his Idealism that she depicts as “hypothetically bracketing the real Being and thereby seeing the world (in the reduction) stripped (enthoben) of the real reality (wirkich Wirklichkeit)” (HCM, 1965a, 397).

  13. 13.

    See in particular: Husserl (1952a, §35–§47/2012a, §35–§47). Becker regards Husserl’s transcendental turn as a result of his reassessment of the issue of intentionality: Becker (1930). In this context, see also: Vendrell Ferran (2008, 71–78).

  14. 14.

    Stein refers here to the theme of “constitution” (Konstitution) that Husserl explored in Ideas-II (Husserl, 1952b, 2002a). In this regard, Ricci writes: “In her duties as an assistant to Husserl, she had been given the responsibility of organizing Husserl’s random papers into a coherent form for publication. […] not only did Husserl expressly define her task of making sense of his writings, but that she also had difficulties getting Husserl to review her work” (Ricci, 2010, 422–423). In this connection, Moran states the following: “During 1912, Husserl had written extensive drafts for the planned two subsequent volumes of Ideas, now known as Ideas II and Ideas III. Subsequently, Edith Stein prepared drafts of Ideas II from 1916 to 1918 and, in 1924–1925, Ludwig Landgrebe took over the job of preparing Ideas II for publication” (Moran, 2012, xx).

  15. 15.

    For further reading, see here: Ingarden (1962), Ricci (2010).

  16. 16.

    HCM cites these words from the theologian Peter Wust, to whose Book Dialektik des Geistes from 1928 she mentions as sharing the spirit of her discussion. See HCM (1963b, 261 n. 6).

  17. 17.

    Both HCM and Stein relate to the orientation then called “the turn to the object” (“Die Wende nach Objekt”), which implied the reconsideration of the idea of “intention” as it appeared in Husserl’s Logische Untersuchungen. Moritz Geiger well characterized this orientation as follows: “[…] while in the past people almost always saw the objects as images of the I, now the tension between the I and the object in accordance with its law returns. [We seek] what is in front of the I, the object. Overcoming the tension between them cannot be achieved through absorbing the object into the subject but through turning to the object itself, as a result of which the construction of the world that is given in an unmediated manner receives a different gaze” (Geiger, 1933, 13).

  18. 18.

    See also: HCM (1963b, 257–258).

  19. 19.

    The expression perfectum opus rationis indicates a science of ultimate realities. This science is essentially incomplete not only because of the being of ultimate realities but also due to the restrictedness of the human mind. See in this regard, Lebech (2011, 146f.).

  20. 20.

    Concerning the relation of philosophy and theology, see also: Stein (2014, 119–142) (First appeared in: Stein, 1929; English translation: Stein, 1997).

  21. 21.

    See my discussion of “the gateway of reality” in: Miron (2014, reprinted in this volume as Chapter 4).

  22. 22.

    HCM’s idea of reality assumes a fundamental structure of the real being that is composed of two inseparable constituents: the essence (die Washeit) or the “whatness” of the thing, and the “bearer” (Träger) (this term is discussed extensively in: HCM, 1916, 407, 482, 497–498, 514, 525–526). The relation of the essence to its bearer is of “unbreakable (unzerreißbar) formal cohesion (Zusammenhang)”, and is reciprocal, i.e., the bearer is specified by the essence that in turn is carried to the extent that it specifies its bearer (HCM, 1923, 167–168).

  23. 23.

    Elsewhere, I have discussed at length the internal elements of being in HCM’s thinking. See: Miron (2016c, an earlier version of Chapter 12 in this volume).

  24. 24.

    To this extent, no difference separates between the one who was raised as a Catholic and a person who like Stein has taken the decision to convert to Catholicism. I have discussed the affinity regarding the volitional choice between Stein and the Jewish thinker Yeshayahu Leibowitz. See: Miron (2016a, 119–124, a revised and expanded version is printed in this volume as Chapter 13).

  25. 25.

    Calcagno well described the discussed aspect as follows: “What Stein experiences is not merely the gegebebheiten (givens) of the phenomenologist, but the plenitude omnitudinis (Fülle, or fullness) of creation” (Calcagno, 2007, 127).

  26. 26.

    For further reading, see: Miron 2017, an earlier version of Chapter 11 in this volume.

  27. 27.

    For a comprehensive account of HCM’s philosophy of Being, see: Miron (2015, an earlier version of Chapter 14 in this volume), Miron (2014, an earlier version of Chapter 5 in this volume).

  28. 28.

    For further reading regarding the idea of “light” (Licht) in HCM’s thinking, see: HCM (1965b), Pfeiffer (2005, 61–66).

  29. 29.

    Despite devoting a special attention to the word I, unlike HCM, Stein does employ the word “ego” from time to time. This might be, at least partly, explained by Stein’s greater ambivalence about Husserl’s transcendentalism than that of HCM, who explicitly and remarkably distances herself. In her words: “The entire physical, mental (psychische), empirical, and ideal or else the categorical world in Husserlian phenomenology – be it individual or collective – must descend backwards into the subjective in order to arrive at the mysterious ‘Ego’, out of whose living ‘activity’ the entire validity of Being and meaning is plainly deducible. […however] We cannot go behind this ego […] that is such that constitutes anything and everything” (HCM, 1965a, 400). See Ales Bello’s interpretation of Stein’s idea of the I as closely related to Husserl’s view of the I: Ales Bello (2008).

  30. 30.

    Stein discusses in length the various aspects of the internal element of the human subject, see: Stein (2010a, 189–199). Ales Bello suggested a detailed discussion of Stein’s concept of the soul that is composed of several meanings: psyche, unity of spirit and psyche, an entire autonomous aspect of the human subject. See: Ales Bello (2008, 152).

  31. 31.

    See here the entire section “I, Soul, Person”, in: Stein (2013, 318–323).

  32. 32.

    Schulz argued that in Finite and Eternal Being Stein uses the concept of the “person” to indicate the ontology of spirit. See: Schulz (2008, 170). See also: Schulz (2008, 170–173).

  33. 33.

    This interpretation arises from both English translations of this essay, which add an emphasis on the experience aspect that does not appear in the German original. The first translation characterizes experience of God as such that “all knowledge about God becomes precisely knowledge of God, namely the personal encounter with God” (Cruce and Allers, 1946, 419). The second translation, by Walter Redmond, also stresses the experiential dimension, which “turns any knowledge of God into the Experience: the personal encounter with him” (Stein, 2000a, 116). The translator added in a note at this place that he proposes the expression “experiencing God” (Gottersfahrung) for the expression “knowing God” (Gotteserkenntinis). See: Ibid., 144, notes 60, 75. Either way, both translations offer an interpretation of the original that basically addresses the English-speaking world.

  34. 34.

    See also: HCM (1965d, 111).

  35. 35.

    This insight surely enables Stein to maintain a close and complex dialogue with Husserl. Ales Bello and Baseheart stress the continuity, while Schulz emphasizes the divergence.

  36. 36.

    See in this context Ales Bello’s interpretation according to which Stein is not interested in describing the tension between the internal or “center” and the external or “periphery” but in a “balanced vision of human being” (Ales Bello, 2008, 156). For more about the relations between internal and external in HCM’s early ontology, see the second chapter of this book (ibid., 3–29).

  37. 37.

    For Stein’s use of the image of “apartment”, see: Alfieri (2012, 37), Miron (2013, 102). The consolidation of the most private and personal together with the most spiritual and lofty in Alfieri’s analysis of Stein’s idea of apartment throws much light on the analogy she suggests between the individual personality and the community. See: Stein (2007, 134–158). For further reading, see: Calcagno (2007, 25–44), Baseheart (1997, 30–75).

  38. 38.

    Elsewhere I referred to Stein’s thinking of as “radicalism of immanence”. See the Appendix to this book.

  39. 39.

    The secondary literature that is mentioned in the footnotes can be considered as representative of this view of Stein’s thinking.

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Miron, R. (2023). A Philosophical Resonance: Hedwig Conrad-Martius Versus Edith Stein. In: Hedwig Conrad-Martius. Women in the History of Philosophy and Sciences, vol 8. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-25416-1_11

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