Robert McNamara on the Christian Philosophy of Edith Stein
Robert McNamara, ‘The Concept of Christian Philosophy in Edith Stein’, in American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 94.2 (2020), pp. 323-46.
In this session (which was our first recording!), Dr. Robert McNamara discusses his paper examining the concept of ‘Christian philosophy’ in the mature thought of Edith Stein (St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce), a twentieth century Carmelite martyr and noted philosopher of the phenomenological movement. Over the course of the conversation Dr. McNamara relates the journey of Stein’s life and philosophical engagement, up to and including her conversion to Catholic Christianity and subsequent encounter with the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. In her later thought, Stein presents a provocative proposal regarding Christian philosophy by arguing that the natural limitations of philosophy as a human science means that its investigations lie interiorly open to their completion and elevation through receiving supplementation from the supernatural contents of Revelation. As a result, Stein maintains that the Christian faith and theological truth not only secures the path of philosophy and guides the process of its investigations, but also provides subject matter for further philosophical inquiry that leads to fresh investigations into the meaning of being. Since this position stands in some contrast to the standard Thomistic presentation of Christian philosophy—a position with which McNamara basically agrees, and for which he argues in the paper—McNamara examines Stein’s conception by setting it in contrast to the standard Thomistic presentation (of Jacques Maritain and others), and thereby manifests something of the novel philosophical significance of Stein’s position while simultaneously assessing its philosophical validity.