This is a philosophical biography of a philosopher by another philosopher. To write a proper review of it is above my head.With my comments that follow, I simply wish to organize and preserve my thoughts about the subject.

Edith Stein (1881-1942) was declared a saint by the Catholic church in 1998.She grew up in a loving, religiously observant Jewish family in Breslau, Germany. In her teenage years, she became an atheist. She didn't really reject Judaism itself just the Judaism of her childhood. In college, Edith took an interest in psychology and then philosophy, and she went on to study for a doctorate in philosophy under Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), the founder of the branch of philosophy called phenomenology. Incidentally, he was also a German Jew but had converted to Lutheranism in his early twenties.

In these latter decades of the Kaisereich (before 1918), German Jews were no longer confined to being merchants but were able to enter the professions. Career opportunities for women were expanding as well. However, for a female to get hired as a professors of philosophy—that was another story. To get a professorship in a German university one had to do two doctoral theses, under two different advisers.Both of Edith Stein's theses were originally rejected because her advisers could not accept the idea of a woman as a faculty peer. But Husserl's wife intervened and influenced her husband to approve Stein's thesis (1916).

After Edith Stein had left her teaching assistant position under Husserl, she was succeeded by Martin Heidigger (1889-1976), who quickly became the most influential German philosopher of the 20th century. In 1933, Martin Heidigger joined the Nazi party and remained a member until the end. In his own personal attitudes and intellectual beliefs, Heidigger was not antisemitic, but from his position as a university rector and the most renowned philosopher in Germany, he expressed significant, extensive hatred towards Jews.

Edith Stein had had some knowledge of Catholic thought. While on a summer break from university, she read the autobiography of Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), a Carmelite nun, and it moved her to become a Catholic right away. Not one to take half measures, Theresa also became a Carmelite nun (1933).A sister followed her into Catholicism and the Carmelites as well.

In 1938, as Jewish persecution escalated in Germany, Edith Stein's religious superior transferred Edith and her sister to a Carmelite convent in the Netherlands. But in 1940, the Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands and began to deport the Dutch Jews to the concentration camps. Originally, they did deport Jews who had converted to Christianity prior to the Nazi occupation. However, in July of 1942, the Bishops of Holland wrote a letter condemning the deportation of the Jews and had it read from the pulpit at every Mass in every church in the Netherlands. The Nazis retaliated by deporting all of the Jews that had previously converted.I believe that, like Etty Hillesum, Edith and her sister could have escaped if they wanted. Edith and her sister were gassed about a week after their arrival at Auswitch.

After the war, Heidigger explained his antisemitism by saying that he was trying to preserve the university and philosophy. The married Heidigger had had affairs with two women that were Jewish. He helped one to escape to another country to avoid the Nazi persecution, and after the war Heidigger, sought out and resumed contact with both women. Heidigger never publicly apologized for his antisemitism. There is one record of a private conversation where he expressed regret.

Heidigger's life and philosophy never intersected.His life was never a witness to truth. And I am ashamed to say that he was a Catholic.In stark contrast, Edith Stein's life and beliefs were one and the same, even in the face of the Holocaust.

Phenomenology concerns itself with human experience. The thing that moves me the most about Edit Stein is that a women of her education and intellect, out of compassion for those suffering from the war (World War I), took a break from graduate school to seek training as a nurse and work for the Red Cross in a hospital for wounded soldiers. She served in the ward that took care of soldiers immediately after surgery.If you know anything about the trench warfare of World War I—the suffering that she witnessed is unimaginable to us today. This experience could have only have verified what she believed about life, experience, and empathy. The title of Edith's doctoral thesis was, On the Problem of Empathy. It is because of her unwavering unity of belief and action, in the face of the worst suffering of which humans are capable, that I call her a woman in the full.

Saint Edit Stein, pray for us.