Edith Stein: Abstraction Serves the Living Whole

"Everything abstract is ultimately part of the concrete. Everything inanimate finally serves the living. That is why every activity dealing in abstraction stands in ultimate service to a living whole."

Edith Stein a.k.a. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942) was a German Jewish philosopher specializing in phenomenology who later converted to Roman Catholicism, became a nun, and was murdered by the Nazi regime at Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Stein completed her doctoral thesis in 1916 and worked under philosophers Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl. She later taught at a Catholic school until Nazi policies forced her to leave the position. She and her sister Rose became Discalced Carmelite nuns and eventually fled to the Netherlands, where they were arrested in 1942. They both died at Auschwitz one week following their arrest. Stein was canonized in by Pope John Paul II in 1998.


"Everything abstract is ultimately part of the concrete. Everything inanimate finally serves the living. That is why every activity dealing in abstraction stands in ultimate service to a living whole."

from The Ethos of Woman's Professions (1930)  Wikiquote

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