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

Mariéle Wulf

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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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