Volume 7, 2007
Jan Patočka and the European Heritage
Ideology and Life in the Idea
(translated from the Czech by Eric Manton)
Patočka’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. Patočka 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. Patočka 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.