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Thinking with the heart: solidarity according to Edith Stein

Alexander von Humboldt-Fellow Elodie Boublil carries out her research project at the a.r.t.e.s. Research Lab

by Dr. Elodie Boublil

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  • Edith Stein as a student in Breslau (1913–1914)
  • Out of one of Edith Stein’s notebooks (Photo: Elodie Boublil)

I joined a.r.t.e.s in summer 2018 after being awarded a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to carry out a project on personhood and solidarity. My work relies on phenomenology and philosophical anthropology. My research focuses notably on the works of Edith Stein whose Archives are in Cologne and who happened to be a significant figure of the phenomenological movement as she was first the assistant of Edmund Husserl before carrying out her philosophical work, at the intersection of phenomenology and Christian theology.

Stein’s philosophy is genuinely interdisciplinary. She drew on theoretical resources from psychology, sociology, anthropology, and the humanities. In this sense, the spirit of a.r.t.e.s and the resources of the Research Lab help deepen my research and understanding of her philosophical method and inquiry.

My philosophical research notably focuses on the concept of the heart (Gemüt, Herz) in her works and in the works of several philosophers of her time (Pfänder, Scheler, Strasser). In March, I had the chance to participate in a three days workshop in Bielefeld, organized by Prof. Thiemo Breyer, on the topic of “Hostile emotions”. Confronting contemporary theories of the role played by emotions in agency and interpersonal relationships with early 20th century theoretical approaches have been very fruitful. I also participated in a reading group meeting with colleagues from a.r.t.e.s analyzing the dynamics of intersubjective relations in the works of 20th-century German phenomenologists. I then presented the first results of my research work, notably in Germany, Denmark, Canada, and the United States. I will discuss my findings in the coming months in one of the a.r.t.e.s seminars organized by Prof. Thiemo Breyer, engaging graduate and postgraduate researchers.

In August, the University of Cologne hosted the bi-annual international conference of the International Association for the philosophy of Edith Stein. Organized by Prof. Harm Klueting, this conference gathered 60 researchers from all over the world, working on the philosophy of Edith Stein. It brought into dialogue philosophy and theology, and the keynote address given by Prof. Andreas Speer showed the influence of Aquinas on Stein’s thinking.

The resources of a.r.t.e.s. as well as the events and collaborative spirit of the University of Cologne make it a breeding ground for developing my research project.