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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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Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter

„If I consider the problem as that which the world is turning me into – that is, as a tiny screw in a giant machine, deprived of human identity – then there is really nothing I can do. Obviously I cannot put a stop to the destruction of the globe, the growing stupidity of nations and the repoduction of thousands of new thermonuclear bombs. If, however, I consider it as that which each of us originally is, or rahter what each of us – irrespective of the state of the world – has the basic potential to become, which is to say an autonomous human being, capable of acting responsibly to and for the world, then of course there is a great deal I can do.“

Václav Havel:
Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter, March 6, 1982

What Price Human Rights?