Saturday, March 01, 2014

Potentiality and Actuality

In what I am now there lies something that I am now not actually, but will become actually at some time in the future. And what I now am actually, I already was previously, but not actually. My present being contains the possibility for future actual being and supposes a possibility in my earlier being. My present being is at once actual and potential being; and insofar as it is actual, it is the actualization of a potency that already exited earlier. As modes of being, actuality and potentiality are contained in the sheer fact of being [schlichte Seinstatsche] and from it they are to be inferred.

St. Edith Stein, Potency and Act, Redmond, tr. ICS Publications [Washington, DC: 2009] p. 12.

I have very little serious German. I take it that 'schlichte Seinstatsche' literally means something like 'definitive apprehension of being'? [ADDED LATER: Arsen notes that it's a typo (mine, rather than Redmond's) -- it should actually be 'Seinstatsache', which means pretty straightforwardly 'fact of being'.]


  1. John Farrell7:08 AM

    What a delightful parallel between this passage and Augustine's discussion of the nature of Time in Ch. 11 of the Confessions.

  2. branemrys9:17 AM

    There's a lot of similarity between Augustine's and Husserl's approach to time (as Husserl and Heidegger also recognize). While Stein doesn't refer here to Augustine on time, she did, a few pages before, refer to Augustine on doubt, so it might well be that she's using Augustine to bridge the gap between Aquinas and Husserl.

  3. Arsen Darnay7:53 PM

    That word, Seinstatsche, appears to be a misspelling. If spelled Seinstatsache, it would simply mean 'a fact of being.' Tatsache means 'fact.' I've never encountered the word as spelled above. Seins translates as 'being's.' Tatsche has no meaning...

  4. branemrys7:57 PM

    That does make a lot more sense. It turns out I wrote it down wrong; so the garbling is my own fault.


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