Phenomenological Reviews

Book | Chapter


Edith Stein and "secretum meum mihi"

are religious conversions necessarily private?

Ken Casey

pp. 253-266


When asked for an explanation of her conversion Edith Stein remarked to a good friend, secretum meum mihi, "my secret is mine." In some philosophers like St. Augustine there is a trajectory that has a philosophical logic. Augustine recounts his move from skepticism to Platonism as a kind of logical move. Following Platonism leads to Christianity as a kind of reasonable next step. Although some trajectories can be detected in Stein's development, they are not discursively neat when compared to someone like Augustine. Stein's own niece claims to be baffled no small amount despite Edith recording that she explained herself to her. This paper begins with similar puzzlement. It looks at Stein's writings and life to determine the nature of her conversion and what is revealed publically and what is not and perhaps cannot be publically revealed. The paper also explores the prior use of the secretum formula as a possible explanation about the limits and dangers of describing human and divine interaction. Finally, it will close with a consideration of Stein's Science and the Cross in an effort to show that Stein's explanation of the life and thought of St. John of the Cross in many ways mirrors both the potential for publicly speaking about an interior life and the necessary limitations that accompany such an attempt.

Publication details

Published in:

Calcagno Antonio (2016) Edith Stein: women, social- political philosophy, theology, metaphysics and public history: New approaches and applications. Dordrecht, Springer.

Pages: 253-266

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-21124-4_20

Full citation:

Casey Ken (2016) „Edith Stein and "secretum meum mihi": are religious conversions necessarily private?“, In: A. Calcagno (ed.), Edith Stein: women, social- political philosophy, theology, metaphysics and public history, Dordrecht, Springer, 253–266.