JAN PATOČKA AND THE EUROPEAN HERITAGE
Ivan Chvatík: Introduction: Jan Patočka and the European Heritage [OPEN ACCESS]
Jan Patočka: Das Innere und die Welt: (aus dem Tschechischen übersetzt von Sandra Lehmann, Einführung von Ana Cecilia Santos)
Abstract: Presented here is the German translation of Jan Patočka’s fragment Nitro a svět (The Inner and the World) which was written in the 1940s and belongs to the so called „Strahov Papers“. The fragment reflects Patočka’s early attempts towards a thinking of subjectivity and the world. Thereby Patočka’s approach is phenomenological, but also integrates motives of German Idealism. The critical impact of the fragment lies in its orientation against the scientific biologism of its times.
Jan Patočka: Des deux manières de concevoir le sens de la philosophie: (traduit du tchèque par Erika Abrams)
Abstract: The essay “On the Two Conceptions of the Meaning of Philosophy”, published in 1936, links up with other early writings such as “Remarks on the Wordly and Other-Wordly Stance of Philosophy” (1934) reflecting Patočka’s initial approach to the question of philosophers’ moral commitment. He distinguishes here an “autocentric” (Aristotle, Descartes, Hegel) and a “hetero-” or “sociocentric” (Plato, Enlightenment philosophers, Comte, Nietzsche) conception of the meaning of philosophy, characterizes its possible influence on human life as either “apperceptive” or “magical” and concludes on a vision of “autonomous life” as “the divinity struggling with its intrinsic peril” which heralds later writings on freedom and sacrifice.
Jan Patočka: Ideology and Life in the Idea: (translated from the Czech by Eric Manton)
Abstract: Patočka’s text from 1946, right after World War II and before the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, analyzes the important historical events he was living through from a philosophical perspective. Patočka describes the crisis in Enlightenment-based social humanism, which even though having won the war, was left battered and distrusted for not preventing the disaster. With this branch of social humanism being discredited, people turned towards its Eastern manifestation, i.e., Socialism or Communism. Patočka distinguishes the various aspects of Socialism that exist undifferentiated within the term: the concept of Man, ideology, and the Idea. The liberation of the Idea is twisted when combined with a material concept of Man as just one force among other forces, which the ideology then uses and abuses for an external aim.
Jan Patočka: Briefe an Krzysztof Michalski
Abstract: We reproduce here forty previously unpublished letters sent by Jan Patočka to the Polish philosopher Krzysztof Michalski between 1973 and 1976. The letters to Michalski reveal his key role in motivating Patočka to formulate his ideas concerning the philosophy of history and present them first in a series of underground lectures in Prague and finally on paper in his last samizdat book, the Heretical Essays on the Philosophy of History.
Ivan Chvatík: Geschichte und Vorgeschichte des Prager Jan Patočka-Archivs
Abstract: This paper presents a short biography of Jan Patočka, as well as biographical data of the author in connection to the life and work of Jan Patočka. The paper describes Patočka’s academic activity at Charles University between 1968 and 1972, how he continued by giving private underground seminars in the dark years of 1972 to 1976, and how his engagement culminated in the dissident movement Charter 77. The author explains how the unofficial underground Patočka Archive was established on the very day of Patočka’s death, even before the terrible events around his funeral. Before the official Patočka Archive was founded on the 1st of January, 1990, many volumes of his works were edited secretly during the period of 1977 to 1989. This made it possible to continue successfully publishing the series of the Complete Works of Jan Patočka after 1990.
Paul Ricœur: Jan Patočka: De la philosophie du monde naturel à la philosophie de l’histoire
Abstract: We reproduce here the text of a lecture held by Paul Ricoeur at Naples in 1997. Ricoeur sees in Patočka’s work an elliptical movement with two foci: the phenomenology of the natural world and the question of the meaning of history. Ricoeur evidences the new features of Patočka’s a-subjective phenomenology compared to Husserl’s transcendental idealism and Heidegger’s existential analytics. The transition from the phenomenology of the natural world to the problematic of history suggests in any case a substantial dialectical thread that starts from the phenomenology of the movement of life, weaves through the problematic and tragic character of history and ends in the idea of the solidarity of the shaken.
Domenico Jervolino: Ricœur lecteur de Patočka
Abstract: In this essay, Domenico Jervolino summarizes twenty years of Ricoeur’s reading of Patočka’s work, up to the Neapolitan conference of 1997. Nowhere is Ricoeur closer to Patočka’s a-subjective phenomenology. Both thinkers belong, together with authors like Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, to a third phase of the phenomenological movement, marked by the search for a new approach to the relation between human beings and world, beyond Husserl and Heidegger. In the search for this approach, Patočka strongly underlines the relation between body, temporality and sociality. Central to this new encounter of Patočka and Ricoeur is the discovery of an idea of inter-human community based on a a-subjective conception of existence.
Françoise Dastur: Réflexions sur la «phénoménologie de l’histoire» de Patočka
Abstract: This paper is dedicated to the analysis of some important points of Patočka’s Heretical Essays on the Philosophy of History in order to question his major thesis of the common origin of philosophy, politics and history shared by Hannah Arendt and based on Husserl’s and Heidegger’s phenomenological conception of the Greek beginning. It tries to show the complexity of Patočka’s conception of Europe, which on one side can be understood as falling into Eurocentrism, but on the other side brings to light the dark face of modern European nihilism and planetary domination and tries to find a remedy for it by appealing to a philosophical conversion leading to the recognition of the diversity of human culture.
Renaud Barbaras: L’unité originaire de la perception et du langage chez Jan Patočka
Abstract: This article explores some indications in the texts of Patočka that point towards a concept of language which no longer takes it to be a derived layer of an original perceptive basis: he disassociates intuition from origin, and establishes a co-origin of language and perception. It is this co-origin whose meaning and limits this article seeks to determine.
James Mensch: The a priori of the Visible: Patočka and Merleau-Ponty
Abstract: Jan Patočka and Maurice Merleau-Ponty attempted to get beyond Husserl by focusing on manifestation or visibility as such. Yet, the results these philosophers come to are very different — particularly with regard to the a priori of the visible. Are there, as Patočka believed, aspects of being that can be grasped in their entirety, the aspects, namely, that involve its “self-showing”? Or must we say, with Merleau-Ponty, that being can only show itself in finite perspectives that can never be summed to a whole? At stake in their attempts to speak of appearing as appearing is, I propose to show, nothing less than the question of the finitude of being.
Lorenzo Altieri: À même les «choses mêmes»: La jonction de sentir et mouvement dans la phénoménologie de Jan Patočka
Abstract: In this paper I would like to reconstruct Patočka’s effort to give a faithful account of the phenomena, without betraying these phenomena with an objectivistic theory of perception. Only by remaining close to the things themselves will we be able to understand them as an appeal, as a call, while understanding ourselves as a response to this call. On the basis of this “ontological rehabilitation of the sensible”, which reveals Patočka’s affinity with Merleau-Ponty as much as his departure from Husserl, I will criticize the idealism of Husserlian phenomenology and reconsider the a priori of correlation in a different fashion. World and subject will then find a different articulation, grounded in the ontological couple of movement and feeling. The analysis will consist of three parts: in the first part I will introduce the problematic of the opposition between phenomenological and physical space; the second part will deal with the notion of movement; the third part will concentrate on Patočka’s new account of subjectivity, the a-subjective cogito, arising precisely from the fundamental coupling of κίνησις and πάθος. Embodiment, qua original phenomenon, will be constantly present in the background of this analysis.
Ana Cecilia Santos: Die Lehre des Erscheinens bei Jan Patočka: Drei Probleme
Abstract: In this article the author attempts to establish whether we can find a “theory of appearance” in the philosophy of Jan Patočka. The “appearance” for Patočka is basically composed of two elements. First there is a “primeval movement” which accounts for an infinite possibility of phenomena. The second element is the relation of this movement with an “addressee”, the subjectivity. If we begin to analyse the unity of these two elements we fundamentally come across three problems: what is it that appears, when appearance presupposes a certain totality of appearance; how does this total appearance come forth; and, finally, is this whole “structure of appearance” taken as a free movement, kept once and for all within the boundaries of phenomenology, which is founded on a precise and positive term of “appearance” — or do we have to stipulate a special “experience” as the starting point of a phenomenology, which accepts the abyssal impossibility to control its frame?
Alessandra Pantano: Vers les moments de l’apparaître
Abstract: The main theme of this article is the phenomenality. Jan Patočka’s asubjective phenomenology distinguishes itself by the description of the plan of phenomenality, where beings can appear and that is independent from everything which appears in it. Only by an universalization of the phenomenological epoché, it is possible to turn our eyes towards the phenomenality itself and to understand its independence. To put the theme of the world and the consciousness between brackets means to discover the structure of the phenomenality, which is constituted by what appears, to which something appears and the way of appearance. The world is the transcendental field of appearance. Everything appears in the world. It is the whole, always given and opened to the human being. The subjectivity is a moment of phenomenality that presupposes the relation with the world. It has a role that makes it an “existence”. It is that to which something appears. Finally the way of appearance: the characters of the phenomenality are “objective mediators”. Mediators because they show the strings that build up the field of appearance, objective because wordly. What they show, even if in the darkness of the absence, is the relation with the world.
Darian Meacham: The Body at the Front: Corporeity and Community in Jan Patočka’s Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History
Abstract: This paper investigates the relation in Patočka’s thought between the concepts of the “front” and the “solidarity of the shaken”, which we find in the Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History, particularly the sixth essay, “Wars of the Twentieth Century and The Twentieth Century as War”, and the phenomenological analysis of corporeity that we find in Patočka’s work from the late sixties, namely, “The Natural World and Phenomenology” (1967). We argue for a reading of the “front” and the “solidarity of the shaken” that emphasizes the importance of the body and intercorporeity. Based on this we argue for an interpretation of Patočka’s “absolute” as life’s transcendence of itself.
Peter Trawny: Die Moderne als Weltkrieg: Der Krieg bei Heidegger und Patočka
Abstract: In the article “The Modern Age as World War” Heidegger’s and Patočka’s considerations of the First and the Second World War are interpreted as a reflection on the modern age. The historical background of this reflection goes back through an important influence of Ernst Jünger to Heraclitus’ thought of an all-ruling πόλεμος, which brings forth the close affinity between Heidegger and Patočka. Here it is unavoidable to pay heed to the question, whether war that is understood on the basis of the Heraclitean πόλεμος is a historical (geschichtliches) event or not. Besides this, Heidegger’s and Patočka’s philosophical approaches to the world war are set back in the context of their thoughts, which we can find by Hobbes, Kant, Hegel, or Clausewitz. In the end, we argue that Heidegger’s and Patočka’s thinking of war is a contribution to the almost refused self-knowledge of the modern age itself.
Marc Crépon: La guerre continue: Note sur le sens du monde et la pensée de la mort
Abstract: “The Continuous War: note on the sense of the world and the thought of death” is a free commentary on the last chapter of Heretical Essays, “Wars of the Twentieth Century”. It takes as a guiding thread a reflection on the reasons for which, as Patočka suggests, “even in peace, war continues”. It finds these reasons both in the way in which we are bound to the fear of death, and in the sense of the world determined by that bind. It poses the question as to the extent to whichthis calls for another meaning of the world.
Lubica Učník: Patočka on Techno-Science and Responsibility
Abstract: Starting from Patočka’s understanding of history as a reflective confrontation with the “shaken present”, I will examine his understanding of human responsibility. For Patočka, human responsibility is impossible to think if the basis of our investigation is couched in the formalised scientific explanation. To think about human responsibility is to recognise that our lives are not something in the world, unchanging and open to investigation by formalised knowledge as a tree or rocks are. We must be responsible for the way we live. In that sense, science is incapable to account for the meaning of life. However, this does not mean that to speak of the meaning of life is meaningless. The life one leads is an achievement. What kind of an achievement it is depends on the way we understand the world and our place in it, who we want to be.
Emilie Tardivel: La Subjectivité dissidente: Étude sur Patočka
Abstract: Patočka has never developed the political and historical concept of dissidence. But trying to sketch its phenomenological foundation in the writings of the Czech philosopher, who experienced human liberty as an act of dissidence, could be an original way in qualifying his alternative idea of the modern subjectivity in phenomenology: between finitude and autonomy. The first part of the article presents the radical criticism aimed by Patočka to the transcendental subjectivism of Husserl, and thinks the requirement of a split between autofoundation and autonomy. Then, it is analysed the articulation between the movement of life and the movement of existence, in which lies the very idea of dissidence. In a third and final part, one shows to what extent the dissident subjectivity fully reveals itself in the political life.
Eric Manton: Patočka on Ideology and the Politics of Human Freedom
Abstract: This essay examines Patočka’s reflections on the ideological battles in the middle of the 20th century and the nature of ideology as such. Drawing on Patočka’s texts from around the time of the Second World War and the Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia, the essay describes Patočka’s analysis of the main philosophical schools of the age, how they conceive of Man, and how they seek to use Man for their own purposes. The essay shows how this external materialization of Man dehumanizes and thus abuses. Only an idea respecting human freedom will do justice to the human experience. Lastly the author reflects on whether Patočka’s analysis of the human situation 60 years ago under various types of totalitarianism is still relevant today.
Kwok-Ying Lau: Jan Patočka: Critical Consciousness and Non-Eurocentric Philosopher of the Phenomenological Movement
Abstract: By his critical reflections on the crisis of modern civilization, Jan Patočka, phenomenologist of the Other Europe, incarnates the critical consciousness of the phenomenological movement. He was in fact one of the first European philosophers to have emphasized the necessity of abandoning the hitherto Eurocentric propositions of solution to the crisis when he explicitly raised the problems of a “Post-European humanity”. In advocating an understanding of the history of European humanity different from those of Husserl and Heidegger, Patočka directs his philosophical reflections back to sketch a more profound phenomenology of the natural world insufficiently thematized in Husserl and absent in Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit. By virtue of its emphasis on the structural characteristics of movement, of praxis, and of the disclosure of the abyssal nature of human existence and of the original nothingness as the (non-)foundation of the phenomenal world, Patočka’s phenomenology of the natural world constitutes an opening towards the reception of Others and other cultures, in particular that of Chinese Taoist philosophy.
Ivan Blecha: Nietzsche in der tschechischen Phänomenologie: Patočka und die Frage nach dem Sinn
Abstract: This paper attempts to compare the positions of Jan Patočka and Pavel Kouba concerning Friedrich Nietzsche and thus to show the role of his philosophy in the Czech phenomenology. The difference between Patočka and Kouba is that Patočka (in a similar way as Heidegger) understands Nietzsche still as a representative of traditional metaphysics (although brought to the utmost frontier), whereas Kouba succeeds to incorporate Nietzsche in the corpus of phenomenological thought and adopt his basic ideas for the specific understanding of the world and of the position of Man in the world. In Kouba’s concept, Nietzsche is not just a figure from the history of philosophy, but an interesting focus around which phenomenological self-reflection can gravitate.
TRANSLATING BEITRÄGE INTO ENGLISH: A DEBATE
Frank Schalow: Locating the Place of Translation
Abstract: This paper argues that Theodore Kisiel, in his article published in Studia Phænomenologica, vol. 5 (2005), pp. 277-285, completely overlooks the “hermeneutic principles” involved in translating philosophical texts when he arbitrarily denounces Parvis Emad’s and Kenneth Maly’s translation of Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis). By locating the distinctive place that translation occupies, this paper argues that the kind of “neologisms” which Emad and Maly employ are not only acceptable, but necessary, insofar as the translation of such an extraordinary work as the Beiträge tests the limits of language where the word emerges from silence.
Thomas Kalary: Some Unaddressed Hermeneutic Issues in Kisiel’s “Review and Overview of Recent Heidegger Translations”
Abstract: In his appraisal of the English translation of the Beiträge by Emad and Maly, Kisiel has not addressed some key issues concerning the translation of this seminal work of being-historical thinking. Emad and Maly have in their “Translators’ Foreword” highlighted a number of hermeneutic issues and challenges which had to be addressed while translating this work. If Kisiel were to be really reviewing the quality of this translation, he would have had to address first the question whether those issues highlighted by the translators are real issues that are to be considered by any translator. If they are real issues and if Kisiel is unhappy with the way the translators have dealt with them, he should have proposed better alternatives, instead of summarily and contemptuously dismissing the “Translator’s Foreword” itself. Literary criticism is surely an invitation to present another point of view, but never a means for expressing contempt.
Theodore Kisiel: In Response to my Overwrought Critics
Abstract: This response defends the relevance and indeed the necessity of the “grassroots archival perspective” in exposing the errors of transcription, omission, dating, etc. in the “German originals”, recording the erratic history of the Heidegger-Gesamtausgabe and its largely posthumous editorial principles, and tracing the genealogy and development of Heidegger’s shifting conceptual constellations. Further suggestions are made toward improving the readability of the forthcomingnew English translation of the Beiträge. A thoroughgoing grammatology of be-ing is offered as a more adequate “alternative” to the verbally superficial framework propounded by the Translators’ Foreword of the Contributions.