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Chiasmi International

Volume 15, 2013

Existence, Diacritics, Animality

Karel Novotný
Pages 111-126
DOI: 10.5840/chiasmi20131513

Liberté et incarnation. Esquisse des conditions de l’existence humaine selon Jan Patočka

The idea of radical, historical freedom which Patočka, beginning in the 1930s, thought of as a movement of transcendence, cannot be comprehended without taking embodiment – the human being’s corporeal and intercorporeal anchorage in the world – into account. This said, we consider the pertinence and permanence, for both human freedom and corporality, of a moment – to all appearances marginal – that constitutes in reality more of a limit for each of these elements (including the motif of movement itself) and, as a result, allows a link to be posited between them. This moment is the confrontation of the living, embodied soul with the cold and hostile side of the world, with the otherness which is alien to life, with the periphery of nature that is bereft of sense for life and constitutes its ultimate limit. The undermining of sense that can happen in such confrontations gives rise to a vertigo deriving from the extreme form of freedom enacted in them. This makes it possible to explain the rupture between spirit and life, a certain dualism opposing life and spirit, that prompts the question: Is this dualism not specific to European humanity as constructed and called for by Patočka?

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