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Actio, Passio et Creatio in the Endliche und Ewige Philosophie of Edith Stein

A Poetico-Personal Response to the Challenges of Postmodernity

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Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU,volume 52)


What Jean-François Lyotard essentially expresses about the phenomenon called postmodernity is a temporal sense of “loosening”. This “loosening” or “slackening” is liberating in that it frees the individual from rigid pre-established rules governing various forms of thinking. There is a sense that human thinking is transcendent, a sort of itérabilité, in that it cannot be contained by the contrived universal categories of critical judgement of the Academy. “Un artiste, un écrivain postmoderne est dans la situation d’un philosophe: le texte qu’il écrit, l’oeuvre qu’il accomplit ne sont pas en principe gouvernés par des règles déjà établies, et ils ne peuvent pas être jugés au moyen d’un jugement déterminant, par l’application à ce texte, à cette oeuvre de catégories connues”.1 With the rejection of rigid systems of determination, the subject is free to actualise its unique difference. Concomitant with this loosening of the rules of subjective determination, there is also the loss or slackening of the possibility of any foundational ground in which one can root one’s common experience of subjectivity. Lyotard expresses this reality when he proclaims the death of all grand narratives. In phenomenological terms, Lyotard’s insights render the grounding of Einfühlung (a common feeling of oneness) a near impossibility. The subject, in his or her difference, is rendered isolated or cut off from the larger community, despite Lyotard’s appeal for smaller communities of difference. Postmodernity, in emphasising difference, has rendered difference a universal logical category which has eclipsed the grand narrative of the being of the human person.


  • Human Person
  • Logical Category
  • Grand Narrative
  • Empty Category
  • Painful Reality

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Nous sommes dans un moment de relâchement, je parle de la couleur du temps ...

Sous la demande générale de relâchement et d’apaisement, nous entendons marmonner le desir de recommencer la terreur, d’accomplir le fantasme d’étreindre la réalité. La réponse est: guerre au tout, témoignons de l’imprésentable, actuons les différends, sauvons l’honneur du nom.

Jean-François Lyotard, Le Postmoderne expliqué aux enfants, Editions Galilée, Paris, 1988, pp. 9–27.

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  1. Lyotard, Le Postmoderne expliqué aux enfants, pp. 26–27. Hereafter referred to as Lyotard. Paris: Editions Galilée, 1988.

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  2. See Jean-François Lyotard’s L’Enthousiasme. Paris: Editions Galilée, 1986.

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  3. Edith Stein,“Endliches und ewiges Sein”, in Werke,vol. II, E. Nauwelaerts, Louvain, 1950, p. 35. Hereafter cited as EES.

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  4. Diese Seinsgewißheit ist eine `unreflektierte’ Gewißheit, d.h. sie liegt vor allem ‘ruck-gewandten’ Denken, mit dem der Geist aus der ursprünglichen Haltung seines den Gegenständen zugewandten Lebens heraustritt, um auf sich selbst hinzublicken. Versenkt sich aber der Geist in solcher Rückwendung in die einfache Tatsache seines Seins, so wird sie ihm zu einer drei-fachen Frage: Was ist das Sein, dessen ich inne bin? Was ist das Ich, das seines Seins inne ist? Was ist die geistige Regung, in der ich bin und mir meiner und ihrer bewußt bin?“ EES, p. 36.

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  5. Die Angst ist freilich durchschnittlich nicht das beherrschende Lebensgefühl. Sie wird es in Fäen, die wir als krankhaft bezeichnen, aber normalerweise wandeln wir in einer großen Sicherheit, als sei unser Sein ein fester Besitz“. EES, pp. 55–56.

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  6. We must realise that freedom or liberty is not to be understood in the tradition of German idealism as a fir sich,but as conditioned by interior and exterior forces. Stein is very conscious of the possibility of living under circumstances which inhibit the full realisation to auto-determine oneself. Stein develops this idea in her treatment of the state. For further information on this subject the reader is encouraged to consult Stein’s Ober den Staat in Jarbuch für Philosophie and phenomenologische Forschung 7 (1925), 1–117.

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© 1998 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

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Calcagno, A. (1998). Actio, Passio et Creatio in the Endliche und Ewige Philosophie of Edith Stein. In: Tymieniecka, AT. (eds) Phenomenology of Life and the Human Creative Condition. Analecta Husserliana, vol 52. Springer, Dordrecht.

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