Jan Patočka's sacrifice

philosophy as dissent

Jérôme Melançon

pp. 577-602

This article attempts to bring together the life, situation, and philosophical work of the Czech phenomenologist Jan Patočka in order to present his conception of philosophy and sacrifice and to understand his action of dissent and his own sacrifice as spokesman for Charter 77 in light of these concepts. Patočka philosophized despite being barred from teaching under the German occupation and under the communist regime, even after he was forced to retire and banned from publication. He also refused the official philosophical categories of communism and, what is more, criticized the very manner in which its ideology allowed it to function. Against the destruction of moral and political life by communist and liberal regimes alike, he outlined the necessity of a "life in the idea" that would be responsive to the notion of sacrifice. Such a position of distance from the things of the world which remains anchored among them is meant to respond to dissatisfaction with the world as it is found and is the very movement of human freedom. Taken together, these three aspects of his philosophical practice made him a dissident, a role he took on more completely when, as part of the Charter 77 movement, he publicly opposed the state, in a course of action that led to his death.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-013-9281-x

Full citation [Harvard style]:

Melançon, J. (2013). Jan Patočka's sacrifice: philosophy as dissent. Continental Philosophy Review 46 (4), pp. 577-602.

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