Volume 3, 2011
The Terror and Hope
Jan Patočka’s Transcendence to the World
This essay examines Czech philosopher Jan Patočka’s phenomenology as a philosophy of freedom. It shows how Patočka’s phenomenological concept
of worldliness, initially cast within a largely philosophical framework as the domain of human action and transcendence, turned toward a philosophical history of the modern age, viewed as increasingly post-European. Patočka hoped for the moral renewal of a fallen modernity, led first by non-Europeans after the era of decolonization and then by a “solidarity of the shaken” during the dark 1970s of Czechoslovak normalization. The essay starts and concludes by considering the relation between his thought and his dissidence, a link that is more tenuous and indirect than some commentators suggest.