Phenomenology 2010

Volume 5, Issue Part 2, 2010

Selected Essays from North America Part 2

Hwa Yol Jung
Pages 175-193

Vaclav Havel’s New Statecraft of Responsible Politics

Vaclav Havel is a playwright who turned into a statesman of extraordinary courage, wisdom, and morals by the exigency of his time. He has been the most prominent voice in post-Communist Eastern Europe. His close fellow-traveller was Jan Patočka who was a student of Husserl and Heidegger, and closely read the phenomenological ethicist Emmanuel Levinas who earmarked dialogical ethics as “first philosophy.” Havel’s signature essay “living in truth” marks the heart of his morality in politics, that is, the confluence of morality and politics. For him, politics as “the art of the impossible” defies politics as “the art of the possible” or Realpolitik. Responsibility as “first politics” is a moral alternative to violence whose ultimate telos is to destroy the Other.