‘I look at him and he looks at me’: Stein’s phenomenological analysis of love

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The Jewish-Catholic philosopher and Carmelite Edith Stein
(1891–1942) offers a rich notion of love, based on an original
phenomenology, which resulted from an active engagement
with her teachers Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler, and was
later enriched and deepened by incorporating religious philoso-
phical and theological ideas. In order to locate Stein’s original
thinking, the essay will first introduce the two thinkers by whom
she was most clearly influenced, and show how Stein contrasted
the ‘nothing’, as it is presented in Husserl’s other pupil Martin
Heidegger’s existentialist analysis, with the fullness of being to
which the human person aspires, and which is given through
love (1). Her phenomenological thinking, based on the intersub-
jective approach to its object, ultimately leads Stein to a triple
philosophical statement about love: Love is a principle of being, a
principle of knowledge and a principle of relationship (2). The
passage through theology verifies what has been said philosophi-
cally about its relationship to God, in whom love ultimately finds
its completion (3). The three basic principles of love complement
and correct each other, to the point not only of issuing in an
analysis of the phenomenon ‘love’ but of also opening up an
ethics of love (4).
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)139–154
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Philosophy andTheology
Issue number1–2
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2017


  • Love
  • Edmund Husserl
  • Max Scheler
  • anthropology


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