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Jan Patočka: Philosophy and Action

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  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: March 16, 2017, 19:00 – 21:00

Jan Patočka began working on his private seminar “Plato and Europe” in autumn 1973. He characterised philosophy as internal conduct. “The situation of man,” he told his students at a Prague apartment against a backdrop of culminating normalisation, “changes once we become aware of it. The situation is utterly different, depending on whether people who are in distress surrender or don’t surrender.”

Speaking at this seminar marking the 40th anniversary of the death and the 110th anniversary of the birthday Jan Patočka, one of the first spokespeople of Charter 77, will be people who were present at that time: Ivan Chvatík, head of the Jan Patočka Archive; Charles University philosophy professor Miroslav Petříček; Jaromír Kučera, philosophy teacher at the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague; and Jiří Michálek, who teaches philosophy at Charles University’s Faculty of Science. Also taking part will be Markéta Bendová, a postgraduate student at Charles University’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

Martin Palouš, director of the Václav Havel Program for Human Rights and Diplomacy at Florida International University, will deliver the introduction and chair the subsequent discussion.

Seminar prepared in cooperation with the Jan Patočka Archive.

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Speech on receiving the Indira Gandhi Prize, New Delhi

„Many Europeans and Americans today are painfully aware of the fact that Euro-American civilization has undermined and destroyed the autonomy of non-European cultures. They feel it was their fault, and thus feel they have to make amends through a kind of emotional identification with others, through accommodating them, through trying to ingratiate themselves, through a longing to “help” them in one way or another. To my mind, this is a false way of going about it… It contains… the same familiar feeling of superiority… It is inverted colonialism. It is an intellectual spasm. I think we will all help one another best if we make no pretences, remain ourselves, and simply respect and honour one another, just as we are. “

Václav Havel:
Speech on receiving the Indira Gandhi Prize, New Delhi, February 8, 1994

What Price Human Rights?