Wheaton logo 2020 color version also for mobile

Faculty Profiles

Sarah Borden Faculty Headshot

Sarah Borden (Sharkey), Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy

On Faculty since 2001


Before coming to Wheaton as a freshman, I was intrigued by philosophy. One of my aunts taught philosophy at the University of Dayton, and short holiday conversations sparked my curiosity. But I had no intention of doing more than a few classes, or maybe a minor - if it proved really interesting. It did. So I followed the introductory course with Arthur Holmes's History of Philosophy course, although the original impetus for signing up was as much because I had a little time and a friend talked me into it, as interest. But before it was half over, I was captivated. Philosophy raised questions that I had (much less clearly) asked for many years and offered models and structures for reflection. At the end of that year, on the final day of classes, I dropped my IDS major in film and dramatic arts, canceled my slot at a semester film program in LA, and decided that I wanted a Ph.D. in philosophy. I did both the MA and Ph.D. at Fordham University in Bronx, New York. Fordham's program strongly emphasizes the history of philosophy, and between coursework and exams, I developed an interest in the relationship between medieval and contemporary thought.

I am struck by the beauty and elegance of Thomas Aquinas's synthesis of Augustine and Aristotle, as well as his concern for the relationship between philosophical and theological pursuits. On the other hand, the philosophical method and approach of phenomenology strike me as, in broad strokes, correct. I wrote my dissertation on Edith Stein, someone who was deeply formed by the early 20th century phenomenological school yet also developed a great love for medieval metaphysics. The work on Stein's thought has deepened both of these interests, and much of my work has centered around questions regarding essences and essential structures, the problem of universals, individual and universal forms, individuality and uniqueness, and the nature of emotions and value.

Fordham University
Ph.D., Philosophy, 2001

Fordham University
M.A., Philosophy, 1998

Wheaton College
B.A., Philosophy, 1995

  • Feminist Theory
  • Edith Stein
  • Phenomenology
  • Thomistic Metaphysics
  • International Association for the Study of the Philosophy of Edith Stein (IASPES)

Keynote presentation, "The Interior Castle: The Soul and Competing Visions of the Church"
Society of Christian Philosophers, Houston Baptist University
October 13, 2017

Keynote presentation, "Edith Stein's Concept of Soul Revisited"
International Association for the Study of the Philosophy of Edith Stein (IASPES) biennial conference, University of Portland
June 10, 2017

Paper presentation, "Capacity or Castle?: Thoughts on Stein's Creative (Carmelite) Contribution to Discussion on the Soul"
International Association for the Study of the Philosophy of Edith Stein (IASPES) biennial conference, Vienna & Heiligkreuz, Austria
October 24, 2015

Keynote presentation, "Edith Stein: Suffering for the Cross"
Annual Carmelite lecture at Washington Theological Union, sponsored by the Carmelite Institute, Washington, DC
March 26, 2011

Keynote presentation, "Eternal Rest: The Beauty and Challenge of Essential Being"
Edith Stein's Finite and Eternal Being, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, OH
April 23, 2010

Keynote presentation, "How Does One Limit Being?: W. Norris Clarke on Thomas's 'Limitation of Act by Potency'"
Metaphysics Colloquium, St. Anselm College
June 10, 2009

Paper presentation, "Matter and Why It Matters to Women and Men"
Mulieris Dignitatem and the Church's Social Vision: The Feminine Genius in the Pursuit of the Common Good conference, University of St. Thomas, MN
October 23, 2008

Keynote presentation, "Edith Stein on Analogy"
Annual Faith and Philosophy Lecture at North Park University
April 22, 2008

Paper presentation, "Edith Stein's Response to the Darwinian Challenge"
34th annual Lonergan Workshop at Boston College
June 2007

Keynote presentation, "The Meaning of Being in Edith Stein and Thomas Aquinas"
Aquinas Lecture at University of Ireland Maynooth
March 10, 2007

Paper presentation, "Edith Stein and Thomas Aquinas"
International St. Thomas Society
December 28, 2006

Paper Presentation, "What Do Our Emotions Tell Us? Edith Stein's Theory of Value"
Edith Stein Center of Study and Research, Spalding University, Louisville, KY
November 30, 2006

Philosophy series, "Sex, Gender, and Our Vocation in the Contemporary World," with two public lectures entitled "Difference, Sameness, and the Vocation of Sex: Theoretical Issues" and "Sex as a Vocational Response to the Contemporary World"
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN
April 3-4, 2006

Paper presentation, "John Paul II and Edith Stein on Woman"
Karol Wojtyla's Philosophical Legacy, Saint Joseph College
March 23, 2006

Paper presentation, "What Is Complementarianism?: John Paul II on Women"
Truth, Life and Solidarity: Philosophical Perspectives on the Thought of John Paul II, Boston College
February 25, 2006

  • First Year Seminar: Why Do We Suffer?
  • Phenomenology
  • Feminist Philosophy
  • History of Philosophy
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Phenomenology
  • Feminism
  • Thomistic Metaphysics

The Interior Castle: The Soul and Competing Visions of the ChurchEvangelical Philosophical Society website
(2018, forthcoming).

Values, Emotions, and Edith Stein, Listening to Edith Stein, ed. Kathleen Haney (Washington, DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 2018).
view more

Capacity or Castle?: Thoughts on Stein's Creative (Carmelite) Contribution to Discussion on the Soul, Edith Steins Herausforderung heutiger Anthropologie, ed. Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz & Mette Lebech (Heilgenkreuz: Be&Be Verlag, 2017), 203-214.

Edith Stein's Use of Hering's "Wesenheit" to Move through Phenomenology to Metaphysics, Discipline Filosofiche 26:1 (2016), 193-204.
view more

Reconciling Time and Eternity: Edith Stein's Philosophical Project, Intersubjectivity, Humanity, Being: Edith Stein's Phenomenology and Christian Philosophy, ed. Mette Lebech & John Hadyn Gurmin (Peter Lang, 2015), 7-20.
view more

Stein, Edith, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, 2015.
view more

Eternal rest: The Beauty and Challenge of Essential Being, Quaestiones Disputatae (special volume entitled, Selected Papers on the Legacy of Edith Stein's Finite and Eternal Being), 4:1 (Fall 2013), 45-64.
view more

Edith Stein: Suffering for the Cross, The Sword: A Journal of Historical, Spiritual and Contemporary Carmelite Issues 71:1 (2011), 83-104.

The Meaning of Being in Thomas Aquinas and Edith Stein, Thomas Aquinas: Teacher and Scholar: The Aquinas Lectures at Maynooth, volume 2: 2002-2010, ed. James McEvoy, Michael W. Dunne, and Julia Hynes (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2011), 85-100.
view more

With Christopher Manzer: Feminism and Metaphysics, Journal of Personalist Feminism 1 (2010).
view more

How Can Being Be Limited?: W. Norris Clarke on Thomas's "Limitation of Act by Potency," Saint Anselm Journal 7:1 (Fall 2009).
view more

Edith Stein and John Paul II on Women, Karol Wojtyla's Philosophical Legacy, ed. Nancy Mardas Billias, Agnes B. Curry, and George F. McLean (Washington, DC: The Council for Research in Values in Philosophy, 2008), 265-276.
view more

Edith Stein and Thomas Aquinas on Being and Essence, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 82:1 (Winter 2008), 87-103.
view more

Edith Stein and Individual Forms: A Few Distinctions Regarding Being an Individual, Yearbook of the Irish Philosophical Society (2006), 49-69.

Edith Stein's Understanding of Woman, International Philosophical Quarterly 46:2 (June 2006), 171-190.
view more

What Makes You You?: Edith Stein on Individual Form, Contemplating Edith Stein, ed. Joyce Avrech Berkman (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006), 283-300.
view more



Why Good Will Always Triumph

Does evil really exist, or is it simply the absence of good? In this TowerTalk, Dr. Sarah Borden '95 explains St. Augustine’s privation theory of evil and unpacks its important implications for our understanding of evil, suffering, and God's work in the world.


Banner for Faculty Tabs