Phenomenology, Metaphysics, Existentialism, Husserl, Stein, Heidegger
Written in the early 1930s as an Appendix for her Finite and Eternal Being (1935–36), Edith Stein’s “Martin Heidegger’s Existential Philosophy” comprises a critical review of Heidegger’s first major publication Being and Time (1927), his next book Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (1929), and his two short texts The Essence of Reasons (1929) and “What is Metaphysics?” (1929 lecture, published 1930), all works which Heidegger considers as works in phenomenology. In her review, Stein argues that a critique of Heidegger’s “existential philosophy” in phenomenology is not only possible but also necessary to realise the very goal that Heidegger had set in Being and Time to bring phenomenology into accord with the tradition of metaphysics. This leads Stein to argue that phenomenology can be and must be advanced in the direction of the question of the meaning of being as articulated along the lines of a Christian metaphysics in Finite and Eternal Being, and not along the atheistic lines of thinking as advocated by Heidegger in his “Denkweg” about “die Seinsfrage” in his published texts (to date). This link between metaphysics in general, Christian metaphysics and (Heidegger’s) phenomenology, with which Stein struggles in the Appendix, is, arguably, one with which many thinkers in Ireland also struggled, when phenomenology arrived on its shores. Yet Heidegger, following Husserl, is doing something different in his way of thinking about the question of the meaning of being to Stein’s way of thinking about the question of the meaning of being. Hence this article argues that the resolution of traditional metaphysics with twentieth century (post-Kantian) phenomenology is not possible for Stein in Germany, or for anyone anywhere, Ireland included, and that this has forced a starker choice for thinkers in Ireland to do phenomenology beyond Husserl and Heidegger’s phenomenology and traditional metaphysics than perhaps many Irish philosophers have recognised.