Upanisads and Edith Stein - A Dialogue on Models of the Person

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PREFACE

The aim of this book, which we entitled Upanisads and Edith Sein: A Dialogue on Models of the Person, is to explore anew the concept of the person but from two contrasting - the Oriental and the Occidental - perspectives. The term "Oriental" denotes here 'Indian Upanisadic Philosophy', while the word "Occidental" represents 'the philosophy of Edith Stein', whose views are greatly indebted to the great Western traditions of Christian and Enlightenment thought. This research attempts a dialogue to nurture east-west nuances such as inter-cultural, inter-philosophical and inter-religious perspectives which constitute towards an integral understanding of the human person which is being questioned even at the early decades of third millenium.

At the center of this investigation, firstly, are the philosophical insights contained in the archetypal rational surveys and its notions, which are of equal significance to those of person [Brahman, atman; Purusah] in the three principal Upanisads, i.e., in the Brhad-aranyaka, Chandogya, and lsa Upanisads': The Upanisads bring out for us the Eastern philosophical perspective by highlighting the 'innovations' included in their presentation of reality, which is perceived to be free of rituals. This research examines, in detail, the anthropological orientation in the Upanisads. This orientation attempts to reflect the ultimate roots of Reality [Brahman] in their pursuit of truth. They show the differentiation and recovery of the essential from the ephemeral, and the revitalization of the universal idea of person, by eliminating presuppositions and avoiding dogmatism regarding the need for intelligible and scientific information about reality. The Upanisads have a unique approach to the external objects of knowledge as well as to the internal subjects of consciousness. They state clearly the supremacy of the human being in the phenomenal world, nurtured by the Ultimate Reality. The Upanisads aim to diffuse a practical understanding and appraisal of the immanent world. They endeavor to attain to a deeper knowledge of the dual forms [apara and para] of the Single Reality [Brahman] in relation to the person. This effort imparts wisdom, and freedom from apparent illusions, enriching the research by furnishing a rational understanding of what a person is -atman. The absence of a logical order in its archaic writing style, and the consequent structural difficulties, which this presents in treating metaphysical questions in an orderly manner must be acknowledged as far as the Upanisads are concerned. They do not fail, however, to answer the pivotal question of the metaphysical implications underlying multiplicity, i.e., 'of things in themselves' - the transcendental subject-object Reality - Brahman.

Secondly, an attempt is made to fully delineate the cardinal characteristics of Edit Stein's philosophy of the person, especially in her philosophical treatise Endliches un Ewiges Sein [Finite and Eternal Being]. Stein's vision proposes an anthropological an true-life solution guided by her phenomenological sound, metaphysically oriented philosophy concerning the foundation, meaning, and dimensions of the person. In her 'Introduction to Philosophy', she seeks to lead us towards <<understanding the world [«die Welt zu Verstehen»] and to explore the profound structure of the human being perceived to be the finite or dependent person in an Infinite Being. Her work represents an enrichment of the traditional notion of being-person. Stein's precise understanding of the finite person finds its perfect realization and expression in the Summum Bonum of the scholastic tradition, the Being that gives ultimate meaning to the finite world. The finite person appears as a bearer of some 'given values' inherent in this Infinite Being. The created person is capax Dei, has the capacity to receive God, though s/he limited in essence and existence. The paradigm shift from Divine-Person or God to the rational physical and spiritual-human, finite structure of the person reveals the latter's analogic: perfection. Thus, Edith Stein's thought, enables us to search for an indispensable ontological structure and a unifying Infinite Being that is foundational to the human person.

The central aim of this research, therefore, is to promote an in-depth discussion about the nature of the person, a research we want to be interconnected within a meta-cultural perspective and, thus, able to lead us into a new form of dialogue among cultures, or we would like to designate as inter-philosophical. Indeed, our research strives to overcome the cultural, linguistic, and terminological barriers of human cognition towards a foundational understanding of one's identity in the context of a notion, being-person that might truly be inter-philosophical. In this sense, our goal is , promote dialogue while at the same time celebrating the unique communitarian existence of every individual understood as person and, therefore, as a bearer , profound meaning. In a fragmented world of clashing ideologies, practical hegemonies divisions and multi-form disputes, philosophy plays a pivotal role in challenging hum, thought and in promoting the dignity of the person. The undertaking of comparing contrasting, and establishing a dialogue between the Upanisadic and the Steinian views presupposes a deconstruction of the different, cultural heritages and suggests that better understanding of the human person is not only possible, but also needed and mo desirable.

**Contents and Sample Pages**