Dark Light: The Mystical Theology of St. Edith Stein

Olli-Pekka Vainio


In this article, I will examine St. Edith Stein’s theory of religious language. Stein, who was both a professional philosopher and a mystic, and deeply rooted both in the tradition of negative theology and early phenomenology, held a peculiar version of univocity with regard to religious language. On the one hand, our concepts have something objectively in common with the thing they signify. On the other hand, our concepts are merely representations of the real. Therefore, when mystics say that God can be addressed “without words or images,” this does not entail anti-realism or non-cognitivism. Instead, according to Stein, this only means that words are not needed when the thing itself is present without mediation in the mystical experience.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12978/jat.2016-4.1411-65210014a


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The Journal of Analytic Theology is a joint publication of the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame and Baylor University.

ISSN 2330-2380 (online)