NEWS | Studia Phaenomenologica


(Jan Patocka Archive, Prague)

We will be commemorating in 2007 the 100th birthday of Jan Patocka and the 30th anniversary of his death. I am very glad to see on this occasion a special issue of Studia Phænomenologica devoted to his philosophical thought. The recognition of Patocka’s true importance as a philosopher has been constantly gaining ground since his death. The time has now come for his thought to receive the international reception and appreciation that it deserves.

The idea of Europe is at the heart of both Patocka’s philosophy of history and his political reflections. For him, this idea refers to the possibility of a radical break with the power of myth and the beginning of history in the strongest sense of the word: Europe is the decisive turning point which opens up an arena for politics and philosophy, a space for life in freedom and truth. Neither freedom nor truth should be taken for granted; both are, on the contrary, a task set to us, an achievement and, consequently, something for which we are responsible. This makes Europe a fragile project, which can never be finalised but is ever to come,  and the formation of this coming is precisely our responsibility.

In recent times, subsequently to the 1989 changes, the idea of Europe which Patocka laid such great a stress on — at a time when it was generally looked down upon — has come anew to the fore. For this reason, we are tempted to say that there has never been, in the whole of European history, a better chance to accomplish this idea, and that it is our responsibility to elaborate its various aspects in the most comprehensive way possible, adopting a philosophical approach similar to his.
In this sense, I believe it is of a special significance that this Festschrift for Jan Patocka is published by Studia Phænomenologica, a journal so much devoted to the “old” spirit of Europe and its new interpretations, founded by a group of young Romanian philosophers ten years or so after the fall of communism.

When Hans Rainer Sepp started helping us in Prague to turn our small Jan Patocka Archive into a real phenomenological centre, he invited groups of phenomenological philosophers from different countries in the world to attend workshops in Prague. These activities showed how keenly phenomenological philosophy is being pursued and there turned out to be very promising groups also in post-communist countries — among them, the Romanian group centred around Studia Phænomenologica. When our Romanian friends came to Prague in 2004, they already brought with them the first issues of their journal. Its contents were up to high standards, promising, international. I was therefore extremely pleased when Cristian Ciocan suggested devoting a special issue to Jan Patocka on the occasion of this year’s centenary celebrations and invited me to participate as guest editor. As such, he entrusted me, among other things, with the task of writing this introduction.

Our intention being for the present volume to commemorate Jan
Patocka as thinker of Europe’s future and its problems, we have collected a number of interesting contributions from people all over the world who acknowledge Patocka’s originality and importance for the coming philosophical debate. Translations of several texts by Patocka himself, as yet available only in Czech, illustrate lesser-known sides of his work and the extent of the task still awaiting international scholarship in this respect.

Also published here for the first time is the corpus of philosophical letters written by Jan Patocka to the young Polish philosopher Krzysztof Michalski in the 1970’s. Since, unfortunately, only a very few of Michalski’s answers have been preserved, we have decided not to publish them in this volume. They will appear later in the framework of Patocka’s complete works, edited by the Prague Archive. The letters to Michalski reveal his key role in motivating Patocka 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”.

Among the articles concerning Patocka’s philosophy, a hitherto unpublished text by the late Paul Ricoeur, introduced by Domenico Jervolino (Naples), deserves special mention. I myself have contributed a modest account of my memories concerning the last period of Patocka’s activity and how we started caring for his legacy in Prague after his death.

This volume sets the stage for the week-long Patocka Conference which will be taking place in Prague in April 2007. We hope that our publication will be a suitable introduction not only to this event commemorating Patocka’s centenary but also to other conferences scheduled this year in several other European towns, e.g. Rzeszow (Poland), Naples (Italy), Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium) and Paris (France).

As guest editor, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the true editor, Cristian Ciocan, for his initiative and efficiency in preparing this volume. I see it as proof that our modest efforts are indeed preserving for the future the European heritage which was so important to Jan Patocka.


Jan Patocka, 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 Pato?ka’s fragment Nitro a sv?t (The Inner and the World) which was written in the 1940s and belongs to the so called „Strahov Papers”. The fragment reflects Pato?ka’s early attempts towards a thinking of subjectivity and the world. Thereby Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka, Des deux manieres de concevoir le sens de la philosophie (traduit du tcheque 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 Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka, Ideology and Life in the Idea (translated from the Czech by Eric Manton)
Abstract: Pato?ka’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. Pato?ka 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. Pato?ka 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 Pato?ka, Briefe an Krzysztof Michalski
Abstract: We reproduce here forty previously unpublished letters sent by Jan Pato?ka to the Polish philosopher Krzysztof Michalski between 1973 and 1976. The letters to Michalski reveal his key role in motivating Pato?ka 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 Pato?ka-Archivs
Abstract: This paper presents a short biography of Jan Pato?ka, as well as biographical data of the author in connection to the life and work of Jan Pato?ka. The paper describes Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka Archive was established on the very day of Pato?ka’s death, even before the terrible events around his funeral. Before the official Pato?ka 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 Pato?ka after 1990. ARTICLES

† Paul Ricoeur, Jan Pato?ka: De la philosophie du monde naturel a 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 Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka’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, Ricoeur lecteur de Pato?ka
Abstract: In this essay, Domenico Jervolino summarizes twenty years of Ricoeur’s reading of Pato?ka’s work, up to the Neapolitan conference of 1997. Nowhere is Ricoeur closer to Pato?ka’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, Pato?ka strongly underlines the relation between body, temporality and sociality. Central to this new encounter of Pato?ka 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 Pato?ka
Abstract: This paper is dedicated to the analysis of some important points of Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka
Abstract: This article explores some indications in the texts of Pato?ka 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: Pato?ka and Merleau-Ponty
Abstract: Jan Pato?ka 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 Pato?ka 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, A meme les «choses memes»: La jonction de sentir et mouvement dans la phénoménologie de Jan Pato?ka
Abstract: In this paper I would like to reconstruct Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka’s new account of subjectivity, the a-subjective cogito, arising precisely from the fundamental coupling of kinesis and pathos. Embodiment, qua original phenomenon, will be constantly present in the background of this analysis.

Ana Cecilia Santos, Die Lehre des Erscheinens bei Jan Pato?ka: Drei Probleme
Abstract: In this article the author attempts to establish whether we can find a “theory of appearance” in the philosophy of Jan Pato?ka. The “appearance” for Pato?ka 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 Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka’s Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History
Abstract: This paper investigates the relation in Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka’s “absolute” as life’s transcendence of itself.

Peter Trawny, Die Moderne als Weltkrieg: Der Krieg bei Heidegger und Pato?ka
Abstract: In the article “The Modern Age as World War” Heidegger’s and Pato?ka’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 polemos, which brings forth the close affinity between Heidegger and Pato?ka. Here it is unavoidable to pay heed to the question, whether war that is understood on the basis of the Heraclitean polemos is a historical (geschichtliches) event or not. Besides this, Heidegger’s and Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka 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 which this calls for another meaning of the world.

Lubica U?ník, Pato?ka on Techno-Science and Responsibility
Abstract: Starting from Pato?ka’s understanding of history as a reflective confrontation with the “shaken present”, I will examine his understanding of human responsibility. For Pato?ka, 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 Pato?ka
Abstract: Pato?ka 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 Pato?ka 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, Pato?ka on Ideology and the Politics of Human Freedom
Abstract: This essay examines Pato?ka’s reflections on the ideological battles in the middle of the 20th century and the nature of ideology as such. Drawing on Pato?ka’s texts from around the time of the Second World War and the Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia, the essay describes Pato?ka’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 Pato?ka’s analysis of the human situation 60 years ago under various types of totalitarianism is still relevant today.

Kwok-Ying Lau, Jan Pato?ka: Critical Consciousness and Non-Eurocentric Philosopher of the Phenomenological Movement
Abstract: By his critical reflections on the crisis of modern civilization, Jan Pato?ka, 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, Pato?ka 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, Pato?ka’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. Pato?ka und die Frage nach dem Sinn
Abstract: This paper attempts to compare the positions of Jan Pato?ka and Pavel Kouba concerning Friedrich Nietzsche and thus to show the role of his philosophy in the Czech phenomenology. The difference between Pato?ka and Kouba is that Pato?ka (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.


Frank Schalow, Locating the Place of Translation
Abstract: This paper argues that Theodore Kisiel, in his article published in Studia Ph?nomenologica, 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 forthcoming new 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.


Rolf Kühn, Innere Gewißheit und lebendiges Selbst. Grundzüge der Lebens-phänomenologie (Gabrielle Dufour-Kowalska); John Wrae Stanley, Die gebrochene Tradition. Zur Genese der philosophischen Hermeneutik Hans-Georg Gadamers (Radegundis Stolze); Gisbert Hoffmann, Heideggers Phänomenologie. Bewusstsein – Reflexion – Selbst (Ich) und Zeit im Frühwerk (Antonio Cimino); Dean Komel (Hg.), Kunst und Sein. Beiträge zur Phänomenologischen Ästhetik und Aletheiologie (M?d?lina Diaconu)

EXTENDED DEADLINE: Studia Phaenomenologica vol. 22 (2022): GESTURES

Guest Editors: Christian Ferencz-Flatz & Delia Popa In recent years, gestures have moved into the center stage of theoretical interest. Prepared by various forays in the field of psychology, sociology, anthropology, and linguistics, which led to an increased focus...