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Jan Patocka

Philosophy and Selected Writings

One of the most important Central European philosophers of this century, Jan Patocka (1907-77) was a student and heir of Masaryk, Husserl, and Heidegger as well as a philosopher and historian of ideas in his own right. Patocka, who was forced to retire prematurely from Charles University in Prague for his political convictions, died of a brain hemorrhage while under Czech police interrogation for having signed the human rights manifesto Charta 77. Although many of his works are available in French and German, in this volume Erazim Kohák has translated Patocka’s central philosophical texts into English for the first time.

As a student and personal friend of Husserl, Patocka was keenly aware of the focal role of reason in the constitution of experienced reality. Simultaneously, as a student of Heidegger, he was no less aware of the irreducible autonomy of that reality. This double recognition led Patocka on a lifelong philosophical quest for a synthesis that would bridge modernity’s split between the freedom of humans and the givenness of the world and, more broadly, between the Enlightenment and romanticism. For the philosophical reader, Patocka’s perceptive writings provide the most helpful key to understanding the basic modern dialogue acted out by Husserl and Heidegger. Yet Patocka, widely respected for his writings on culture and the arts as well as for his studies of J. A. Comenius and the history of science, offers much more: a comprehensive attempt to come to terms with our intellectual heritage and our divided present.

Kohák, as well as translating the writings, provides a comprehensive introduction, covering the full scope of Patocka’s thought, and a complete bibliography of his writings. The result is an intellectually rich volume equally well suited as an introduction to Patocka, an advanced study in phenomenology, and a historical insight into philosophy behind the Iron Curtain since 1938.

400 pages | 6.00 x 9.00 | © 1989

Philosophy: General Philosophy

Table of Contents

Note on Pronunciation
Part One - Jan Potocka: A Philosophical Biography
The Death of a Philosopher
The Beginning: Husserl and Masaryk
The Philosophical Vocation
The Idea of the "Natural" World
The Idea of History
The Idea of Reason
Humanity and Culture
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle
The End of Metaphysics and Negative Platonism
From Ancient Cosmos to the World of Modern Science
The Heritage of Comenius
Second Beginning: Husserl and Heidegger
Husserl’s Philosophy and Phenomenology
Husserl’s Transcendental Turn
The "Natural" World and the Subject-Body
The Hardness of the Real
The Danger of Technology: Heidegger and Plato
History and Transcendence
Thought and Deed: Charta
Jan Patocka—An Appreciation
Part Two - Jan Patocka: Selected Writings on Philosophy and Phenomenology
1. Titanism (1936)
2. Masaryk’s and Husserl’s Conception of the Spiritual Crisis of European Humanity (1936)
3. Two Senses of Reason and Nature in the German Enlightenment: A Herderian Study (1942)
4. Negative Platonism: Reflections concerning the Rise, the Scope, and the Demise of Metaphysics—and Whether Philosophy Can Survive It (circa 1955)
5. Husserl’s Transcendental Turn: The Phenomenological Reduction in The Idea of Phenomenology and in Ideas I (1965)
6. Edmund Husserl’s Philosophy of the Crisis of the Sciences and His Conception of a Phenomenology of the "Life-World" (Warsaw Lecture, 1971)
7. The "Natural" World and Phenomenology (1967)
8. The Movement of Human Existence: A Selection from Body, Community, Language, World (1968-1969)
9. Cartesianism and Phenomenology (1976)
10. The Dangers of Technicization in Science according to E. Husserl and the Essence of Technology as Danger according to M. Heidegger (Varna Lecture, 1973)
11. Two Charta 77 Texts (1977)
The Obligation to Resist Injustice
What We Can and Cannot Expect from Charta 77
Part Three - Jan Patocka: A Bibliography
Patocka’s Writings in World Languages
Secondary Sources and Bibliographies
A Basic Bibliography
Index of Names
Index of Topics

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