Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 19, Issue 1, Fall 2014

Golfo Maggini
Pages 103-125

Europe's Janus Head
Jan Patocka’s Notion of “Overcivilization”

Jan Patocka’s idea of Europe can be viewed as a continuation of Edmund Husserl’s reflections on the issue. Still, the differences are numerous and worthy to be studied, especially in today’s critical times for Europe’s future. Patocka doubts the teleological, rationality-based determination of Europe’s identity, and, following that, the diagnosis of Europe’s current crisis as a deficiency in rationalization, which could be in its turn overcome by a surplus of rationalization. Patocka’s early differentiation from Husserl’s intellectualist account of European humanity will lead to an integral, phenomenology-inspired philosophy of the European civilization. For Patocka, the prevailing of the “hegemonic” against the “universalist” Europe means a fall behind the standards of European humanity, to that of the mere biological level, as specified by today’s preponderant economy-oriented discourse. For him, the seeming victory of the “hegemonic” over the “universalist” Europe is false, because it already contains the seeds of its self-destruction.