Towards an Understanding of Trauma in Light of Edith Stein’s Philosophy

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Abstract

This paper explores the potential ways in which the philosophy of Edith Stein might inform and elucidate our multifarious understandings of the concept of trauma. The use of the term “trauma” has undergone multiple revisions over time, the most significant being its extension from the medical to the mental realm in the 19th century. The phenomenon has also been theorised from diverse perspectives in humanities scholarship over the last several decades. Given the peculiar positioning of trauma as straddling the disciplines of psychology and the humanities, this paper contends that Stein’s phenomenology offers a layer of analysis that is unique and highly applicable to trauma. Her Philosophy of Psychology and the Humanities (2000, first published in 1922) comprises two treatises: the first discusses the psyche and the law that governs it (psychic causality) and the second concerns the mind, or spirit, and the law that governs it (motivation) (Lebech 2004). The two treatises were intended to delineate the disciplines of psychology and the humanities respectively. This paper presents the case that, for this reason, Stein’s work is particularly relevant to the study of trauma, to the extent that trauma is a boundary phenomenon which spans and transcends the areas of both psyche and meaning.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationEdith Stein's Itinerary: Phenomenology, Christian Philosophy and Carmelite Spirituality
Pages451-460
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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