Edith Stein lived an unconventional life. Born into a devout Jewish family, she drifted into atheism in her mid teens, took up the study of philosophy, studied with Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, became a pioneer in the women's...
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Edith Stein lived an unconventional life. Born into a devout Jewish family, she drifted into atheism in her mid teens, took up the study of philosophy, studied with Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, became a pioneer in the women's movement in Germany, a military nurse in World War I, converted from atheism to Catholic Christianity, became a Carmelite nun, was murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942, and canonized by Pope John Paul II. Renowned philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre here presents a fascinating account of Edith Stein's formative development as a philosopher.
MacIntyre is by any reckoning one of the major British philosophers of the post war years. Any new book from him is eagerly awaited and very widely reviewed. MacIntyre is a convert to Roman Catholicism. Edith Stein was an intellectual of considerable importance in the period between the two World Wars. The fact that she was also canonised as a Saint is truly remarkable. A Jewish convert to Roman Catholicism, she died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The ingredients of Stein's intellectual and personal history have proved irresistible to Alistair MacIntyre. In this study of Stein's development as a theologian and philosopher, MacIntyre has revealed many of the fundamental issues in both disciplines and in their cross fertilisation. Stein was a pupil of the phenomenological philosopher Edmund Husserl. She then sought in her own writing to interpret phenomenology in a Thomistic way. In this she was as original and innovative as were the Catholic philosophers - such as Peter Geach and Elizabeth Anscome- who made similar interpretations of the work of Wittgenstein in this country. Stein believed with Husserl that all knowledge claims could be properly grounded openly in phenomenology and she was concerned to articulate the connection between the human and the natural sciences. Her published essays focused largely on the structure of the person and a careful articulation of the essential nature of community and its basis in our nature as persons. This is a book of greatest importance.
MacIntyre gives a detailed account of the philosophical context in which Stein worked, giving a survey of early 20th German philosophy, including the work of major figures such as Husserl, Heidegger and Lukacs.
Although he is most widely known for his book "After Virtue" (1981), with its critique of reason and ethics, Alasdair MacIntyre writes in other areas of philosophy as well, including philosophical psychology, political theory, and philosophy of religion. Born in Scotland, he was educated at Manchester, London, and Oxford universities. In 1969, he went to the United States where he has taught at Brandeis, Boston, and Vanderbilt universities. Since 1988, when he also delivered the Gifford lectures, MacIntyre has taught at the University of Notre Dame. "After Virtue" is one of the most widely discussed of all recent books on moral philosophy. It is the culmination of MacIntyre's deep engagement with the history of ethics. In it he argues that modern ethical theory, as it has developed since the seventeenth century, has been exposed by Friedrich Nietzsche as conceptually bankrupt. To find an alternative, he looks to ancient Greece and especially to Aristotle's concept of virtue. Although his critics consider this alternative to be something of an impossible dream, MacIntyre argues that it is central to a recovery of ethics.