Thursday, April 19, 2007

Phenomenology connection?

By chance I have had the opportunity to discuss what the Church and Pius XII did during WWII to assist Europe's Jewish population, in order to dispell the slanderous myths which the culture has imbibed so deeply and with such lack of restraint. As such conversations usually do, it wandered quite a bit, so to cut to the chase for the point of this post, I did a search at for Hannah Arendt's book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, and found the following write up from one bookseller:

Book Description: Penguin Books; Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics Ser., Harmondsworth, 1977. Trade Paperback. Book Condition: Fair. Revised and Enlarged Edition. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Reprint, 1977. Tight, clean copy. Worn wraps. Browning. The German-Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) studied philosophy with Martin Heidegger at Marburg University in the mid-1920s and completed a PhD under Karl Jaspers, another professor interested in phenomenology. With the rise of the Nazis, she fled to Paris, and arrived in New York in 1941. Her first major book "The Origins of Totalitarianism" was published in 1951, although she achieved greater notoriety for her examination of the kidnapping of Adolph Eichmann and his subsequent execution by the Israels in "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" (1963). More relevant than ever. Bookseller Inventory # 016600

Now, what I find interesting in this, is that there are two other notable period students of Phenomenology, Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II) and Edith Stein. I don't know if there is more than passing coincidence here, or a story indeed. Hope someone can enlighten me...


  1. Also Dietrich von Hildebrand was involved with Phenomenology and it is interesting to note that many in Germany at the time involved with phenomenology became converts to the Church.

  2. Hi - I'm working on a bio of Stein that shows her contextual history as a Jewish woman, in academe and in the convent.

    Stein did her dissertation under Edmund Husserl in Gottingen, the "father of phenomenology", as did Roman Ingarden. Ingarden later taught in Poland, and Wojtyla was among his students. VonHildebrand was in the Gottingen circle a bit earlier, but it was he who brought Edith Stein to the attention of Fr. Erich Pryzwara, S.J., who saw to it that she frequented the lecture circuit and also commissioned her translations of Aquinas' De veritate into German and Newman's Idea of a University.

    If you read Pope John Paul II's theology of the body and Stein's lecture on the nature and vocation of man and woman (In her Essays on Woman) , you will note the debt that the pope had to her thought in crafting his work.