A critical study of the philosophy and political practice of the Czech dissident movement Charter 77. Aviezer Tucker examines how the political philosophy of Jan Patocka, founder of Charter 77, influenced the thinking and political leadership of Vaclav Havel as dissident and president. Presents the first serious treatment of Havel as philosopher and Patocka as a political thinker. Through the Charter 77 dissident movement in Czechoslovakia, opponents of communism based their civil struggle for human rights on philosophic foundations, and (...) members of the Charter 77 later led the Velvet Revolution. After Patocka's self-sacrifice in 1977, Vaclav Havel emerged a strong philosophical and political force, and he continued to apply Patocka's philosophy in order to understand the human condition under late communism and the meaning of dissidence. However, the political/philosophical orientation of the Charter 77 movement failed to provide President Havel with an adequate basis for comprehending and responding to the extraordinary political and economic problems of the postcommunist period. In his discussion of Havel's presidency and the eventual corruption of the Velvet Revolution, Tucker demonstrates that the weaknesses in Charter 77 member's understanding of modernity, which did not matter while they were dissidents, seriously harmed their ability to function in a modern democratic system. Within this context, Tucker also examines Havel's recent attempt to topple the democratic but corrupt government in 1997-1998. The Philosophy and Politics of Czech Dissidence from Patocka to Havel will be of interest to students of philosophy and politics, scholars and students of Slavic studies, and historians, as well as anyone fascinated by the nature of dissidence. (shrink)
Czech history defies dominant Western progressive historical narratives and moral evolutionism. Czech free-market democracy was defeated and betrayed three times in 1938, 1948, and 1968. The Czech Protestants were defeated in the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. Consequently, Czechs have a different perspective on the traditional questions of speculative philosophy of history: Where are we coming from? Where are we going? What does it mean? They ask further: where and why did history go wrong?Jan Patocka , the leading (...)Czech philosopher and the author of Charter 77 of human rights, traced the repeated historical tragedies of the Czechs to the origins of their national movement in the imperial liberation of the serfs in the eighteenth century, debating the dominant nationalistic belief in national historical continuity, leading to linguistic nationalism. Patocka accused his nation of being "petty," of low social origins and interests, unlike their elitist neighbors. Despite his obsession with aristocracies bent on any transcendence, Patocka thought that the Czechs should have fought the Nazis in 1938 for the transcendental ideal of democracy. Linguistic nationalism led the Czechs and their leaders to choose life in slavery in their Hegelian conflict with the German masters.The Czech reception of Patocka's philosophy of Czech history has been mixed. I criticize the philosophical, political, and historical shortcomings of Patocka's discussion. Contemporary Czech attitudes to their history are forgetfulness; new Czech historicism tracing a continuity from Jan Hus to Václav Havel; and a search for historical truth and philosphical understanding of history that has political implications. (shrink)
Esej pojednává o koncepci poznání, již zformuloval významný český filosof a ekonom Karel Engliš (1880-1961) a nejuceleněji uložil do monumentálního spisu Velká logika. Toto teprve nyní publikované dílo obsahuje enormně bohatý materiál, a proto se přítomná studie soustředila na několik myšlenkových motivů, jejichž prostřednictvím lze konkrétně posoudit přínos i možnosti Englišova konceptu tří myšlenkových řádů (ontologicko-kauzálního, teleologického a normologického). Jsou to témata lidské vůle a možné svobody, rozlišení logických a empirických poznávacích prostředků a problém účelnosti a užitečností poznání. Tyto tematické (...) okruhy bylo možno zvažovat u Englišovy kritiky představitelů různých filosofických směrů – osvícence Voltaira, voluntaristy Schopenhauera a pragmatisty W. Jamese. Konfrontace jejich názorů s koncepcí myšlenkových řádů dokládá možné kritické použití Englišovy optiky. (shrink)
Among the national scientific groups, it was the Prague Linguistic Circle that had the most decisive affinity to the work of the Moscow-Tartu school. This paper examines the work of one of the most tireless contemporary Czech interpreters of the Lutman school, Vladimir Macura (1945-1999), whose work on Czech literary and historical texts are outstanding examples of the reverberation of Lotmanian semiotics of culture in the Czech Republic. This is particularly the case in Macura's reevaluations of the (...) texts of the Czech National Revival of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, especially in two books, Znamení zrodu (Signs of Birth) (1995) and Český sen (The Czech Dream) (1998). In these works Macura looked at this critical period in Czech national history as a multi-layered semiotic text in both the verbal and visual spheres. The present paper is an attempt at an exploration of Macura's treatment in this manner of the following: the Czech language, the city of Prague, the question of Czech national self-identification in general and as part of a larger category, the world of the Slavs. An important aspect of this project is an examination of Macura's exploration of the value functions of symbolic animals and plants in Czech Revival culture, and its relation to the axiology of Czech (Slavic) cultural identity. The paper is dedicated to Macura's memory. (shrink)
This article aims to elucidate Patočka’s impact on contemporary Czech philosophy. As a preliminary, it presents Patočka’s general conception of the possible impact of philosophy as such. It seems that for Patočka, the clarifying function of philosophy was the most relevant, much more than its possible capacity to stimulate objective or social processes. It then explains what impact Patočka himself expected from his own activity as a philosopher. Here we can see that his main concern was to pass on (...) the great philosophical tradition neglected by Czech intellectuals, primarily ancient philosophy and German Idealism. Finally, it sketches the impact of Patočka’s writings and lectures that can actually be seen today in Czech philosophy—in the study of ancient and Classical German Philosophy, in new philosophical conceptions inspired by him, in phenomenology, and in debates about modern Czech history. (shrink)
In the early twentieth century, the body was seen as both an ontogenetic and a phylogenetic entity. In the former case, its individual development, it was manifestly changeable, developing from embryo to maturity and thence to a state of decay. But in the latter case, concerning its development as a species, the question was an open one. Was its phylogenetic nature a stationary snapshot of the slow process of evolution, or was this too mutable? Historians have emphasised that the question (...) of acquired inheritance remained open into the twentieth century; this paper explores how various constructions of the individual as a phylogenetic episode—a stage in the race’s evolution—related to representations of the body in the same period.A discussion of the work of the brothers Josef and Karel Čapek offers a contextualised answer to the question of bodily representation. Karel Čapek explored the nature of the ‘average man’ through two different organisms, the robot and the amphibian, epitomes respectively of corporeal permanence and plasticity. Josef Čapek , along with other members of the Group of Plastic Artists, explored visual representations of the body that challenged cubist Bergsonian norms. In so doing, he affirmed what his brother also held: that despite the constrictions imposed by the oppressive political conditions in which the Czechs found themselves, the individual body was a fragile but fluid entity, capable of effecting change upon the future evolution of humankind. (shrink)
This report characterizes the state of affairs in the field of business ethics in Central and Eastern Europe. It reveals the major problems and challenges brought about by the profound reforms to these societies and economies. It also offers some results of surveys looking at public opinion on morals and ethics, as well as on current business practices. In order to give a complex picture, it presents brief lessons from the history of particular countries. The author, devoting the most attention (...) to the Czech Republic, tries to describe not only the development of business ethics in the theoretical arena but also the first steps taken by the business world itself. (shrink)
The volume represents a selection of the articles which were presented at a colloquium on new research topics in aesthetics at the Austrian Library in Pilsen in September 2010. Their authors, Czech and Austrian scholars, address various topics, ranging from the institutional history of aesthetics to the relationship between philosophical aesthetics and psychology, and from the philosophy of literature to the aesthetics of fine arts, dramatic arts, and architecture.
In the1960s, texts by the prominent German philosopher and musicologist Theodor W. Adorno were translated into the Czech and Slovak language. This was only possible due to the more relaxed social and political atmosphere of those years. The translated essays were published in professionally-oriented periodicals. This paper is aimed to map and evaluate the reception of Adorno’s translated works in Czechoslovakia. Although these texts embraced above all Adorno’s work in the sociology of philosophy, aesthetics of literature and musicology, this (...) paper is mainly focused on Adorno’s musicological texts. Albeit mostly regarded as an original and extremely versatile author in Czechoslovakia, Adorno was also criticised on the background of Marxist-Leninist philosophy. In order to evaluate the reception of Adorno’s ideas in the Czech and Slovak environment, it is methodologically necessary to adopt a broader aesthetic-philosophical perspective that enables us to account for Adorno’s endorsement of the Marxist philosophy pursued at Frankfurt School of Philosophy. (shrink)
Many experimental found footage films base their meanings and effects on an interaction between the figurative content of the image and its material-technological underpinnings. Can this interaction arise accidentally without artistic appropriation? A recently digitised film by the Czech cinema pioneer Jan Kříženecký, Opening Ceremony of the Čech Bridge (1908), presents such an exercise in accidental aesthetics. At one point, the horizontal and vertical trembling of the cinematograph – obtained from the Lumière brothers – translates into a trembling of (...) the figures on the bridge so precisely that the figurative and material spheres appear to cooperate towards a common aesthetic goal. To account for such phenomena, film theory, found footage filmmaking, and archival practice need to join forces with philosophy. More specifically, Gilbert Simondon's notion of transduction, a process based on the intersection of diverse realities within a domain, allows us to conceptualise the paradoxical interaction between the figurative and material dimensions and the unintentional meanings that arise out of it. Transduction enables the distribution of elements between these heterogeneous spheres while maintaining a certain stability within a system. In the case of archival films in which transduction occurs without prior intention or expectation, transduction can be foregrounded and prolonged. The connection between transduction and the “trembling meaning” of Opening Ceremony, understood within the wider context of camera instability in experimental found footage, will uncover the aesthetic potentialities held by the autonomous creativity of film matter and its interferences with the figurative content. (shrink)
The author argues that Hegel in his early manuscript The German Constitution and in the later Elements of the Philosophy of Right develops the theory of the ethical (sittlicher) state. This reading of Hegel's theory of the state challenges wide-spread criticism of Hegel's political theory as, e.g., put forward by Karl Popper in his book The Open Society and its Enemies. (edited).
It would seem reasonable to expect any comprehensive account of consciousness to accommodate two of its most fundamental attributes: that we have a self- centred sense of experience and that this sense is somehow linked to the condition of our physiology. Yet those conversant with post-Cartesian philosophy will know that time and again significant doubts have been raised about any apparently obvious link between mind and body. So of all the questions implicated in the scientific study of consciousness perhaps the (...) most pressing is to what extent, if at all, does our mental life correlate with biochemical activity at the neuronal level? Until this is resolved we will be unable to reconcile the data gathered from phenomenological analysis of introspective experience with that derived from neuroscientific analysis of brain behaviour. The infamous gap will persist. (shrink)