Faith and Radicalism: Edith Stein vis-à-vis Yeshayahu Leibowitz

in Review of Rabbinic Judaism
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This paper confronts Edith Stein’s Christian idea of faith with the Jewish one of Yeshayahu Leibowitz. The discussion begins by uncovering the common starting point of the two thinkers, which anchors religious faith in one’s volitional decision. Yet this commonality appears to be violated by essential differences between their understandings of the religious experience. Delving into the differences between Stein’s and Leibowitz’s idea of faith demonstrates two faces of radicalism in the human religious experience.

Review of Rabbinic Judaism

Ancient, Medieval, and Modern (Formerly: The Annual of Rabbinic Judaism)

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References

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1

Conrad-Martius 1960, 61. Conrad-Martius’ essay on Edith Stein, which appears at the end of the collections of Stein’s letters to her (ibid. 59–83), is based on a lecture that she delivered before the Society for Christian-Jewish Collaboration (undated). For further reading about the friendship between Stein and Conrad-Martius, see Avé-Lallemant 2003.

2

Conrad-Martius 1960, 74. Conrad-Martius served as Stein’s god-mother. Herbstrith describes Stein’s stay with Conrad-Martius before her baptism, see Herbstrith 1972, 24–25.

4

Stein 1950, 311–327; 319.

5

Stein 1965, 209.

6

Stein 1962, 1–2.

7

Stein 1950, 461–462.

8

Stein 1950, 462.

9

Herbstrith 1983, 47–48.

11

Leibowitz 1979, 37–38.

12

Stein 1950, 24–25.

18

Stein 1950, 43f.

19

Stein 1950, 51–52. Hart argued that Stein borrowed here the Heideggerian idea of “Daseins geworffensein” (Hart 2003, 98) but was also critical about it (Hart 2003, 101). Calcagno observed that for Stein, “it is not a matter of finding ourselves in the world, but a matter of creating and reinterpreting the world;” see Calcagno 2007, 127. See also Stein 1962, 15. Regarding the double faces of the life of the I, see ibid., 318f. Baseheart refers to the experience of joy; see Baseheart 1997, 88–90; 115. In establishing the living of the I within its experiences, Stein relies on Conrad-Martius; see Stein 1950, 36.

20

Stein 1950, 318–319 (my emphasis).

22

Stein 1950, 36.

23

Stein 1950, 395.

25

Stein 1929, 326. Among others in the early realistic circle in Göttingen, Stein was influenced by the early Husserlian method of “intuition of essence” (Wesensschau); see Ebel 1965, 15–19; Avé-Lallemant 1982, 212; Pfeifer 2005, 49–60. The investigation into the essence of the person is apparent already in Stein’s dissertation on the problem of empathy (Stein 1917), but also in later works: the essay “Individual and Community” (Stein 1922, 116–284), the essay “The ontic structure of the person and its epistemological problematic” (Stein 1962b, 137–197), and obviously Finite and Eternal Being is the most rich source for the issue. Baseheart argues that Stein establishes “an original blend of phenomenological and perennial ways of probing the question of what it means to be human” (Baseheart 1997, 30). Baseheart holds that “The thread that runs through all her work from her first study of empathy to the Finite and Eternal Being is that of the ontic structure of the person” (ibid., 29). This argument pervades Baseheart’s study, see in particular chapter iii: “The Human Person,” Baseheart 1997, 30–57.

26

Stein 1929, 326.

28

Stein 1950, 3. Baseheart also indicates “The existential character of Stein’s metaphysics” (Baseheart 1997, 32). 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” (ibid., 123).

29

Baseheart 1997, 89.

31

Stein 1950, 146.

32

Stein 1993, 89 (my emphasis).

33

Stein 1950, 25.

34

Stein 1950, 25–26.

35

Stein 1950, 226.

36

Stein 1950, 466–482.

38

Stein 1950, 42–43.

39

Stein 1950, 56–57. See also Calcagno’s reference to this quotation, Calcagno 2007, 145–146, n. 10.

40

Stein 1950, 342.

42

Stein 1993, 90.

43

Stein 1950, 18–28. See also ibid., 101–103; 310–311; Stein 1962b, 137–197. Baseheart interestingly holds that “it seems likely when she [Stein] conceived the idea of Finite and Eternal Being, she may have had in mind the words of René Kremer which she had heard at the Journée of the Sociéte Thomiste at Juvisy: “The question of being can be resolved only by a complete system embracing finite being and infinite being,” see René Kremer “La Phénoménologie,” Journée d’étudees de la Société Thomistei, Cerf, Juvisy, 1932. (Cited from: Baseheart 1997, 110).

44

Stein 1950, 53.

45

Stein 1950, 107. See also, ibid., 109–110; 43f.

46

Stein 1950, 53.

48

Stein 1950, 58.

49

Stein 1950, 461.

51

Stein 1950, 102.

52

Stein 1946, 419 (my emphasis). Stein refers to the search for God, in Stein 1950, viii, 1, and 12.

53

Stein 1946, 419.

55

Ibid., 420.

56

Stein 1950, 102–103.

57

Ibid., 462.

59

Stein 1950, 36.

60

Leibowitz 2002, 211.

61

Leibowitz 1979, 75.

62

Ibid., 37.

63

Ibid., 75.

64

Ibid., 75.

65

Leibowitz 2002, 210–212.

66

Leibowitz 1982, 62–63.

68

See again, Herbstrith 1983, 47–48.

72

Leibowitz 1979, 64.

73

Leibowitz 1976, 31.

74

Leibowitz 1979, 38.

75

Leibowitz 1982, 24.

76

Leibowitz 1979, 15.

77

Stein 1993, 90.

78

Stein 1993, 89. Nevertheless, Stein clarifies that faith in-itself and for-itself is independent of such revelations (ibid.). Leibowitz refers in many contexts to the issue of the holy scriptures. For further reading, see Sagi 1997.

79

Leibowitz 1979, 76.

80

Leibowitz 1982, 53. For further discussion of the differences between the two, see Leibowitz 1979, 142.

82

See again, Stein 1950, 462.

84

Leibowitz 1979, 13–14.

85

Leibowitz 1979, 64.

87

Stein 1950, 102.

88

Stein 1962, 1.

90

Conrad-Martius 1960, 63. The understanding of Judaism as Catholic in its spirit exists also in modern Jewish thinking, in particular Ernst Simon. See Simon 1969. In this context, see also Carm’s discussion of Stein’s thinking vis-à-vis Simon; Carm 1990, 176–185.

91

Conrad-Martius 1960, 68.

93

Leibowitz 1976, 31.

94

Stein 1965, 282. Herbstrith regards this depiction as symbolizing the friendship between Stein and Conrad-Martius; see Herbstrith 1972, 23.

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