Concept

Jan Patočka

Summary
Jan Patočka (ˈpatot͡ʃka; 1 June 1907 – 13 March 1977) was a Czech philosopher. Having studied in Prague, Paris, Berlin, and Freiburg, he was one of the last pupils of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. In Freiburg he also developed a lifelong philosophical friendship with Husserl's assistant Eugen Fink. Patočka worked in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic for almost his entire career, but never joined the Communist Party and was affected by persecution, which ended in his death as a dissident spokesperson of Charter 77. Patočka was a prolific writer and lecturer with a wide range of reference, contributing much to existential phenomenology as well as the interpretation of Czech culture and European culture in general. From his Czech collected works, some of the most notable have been translated to English and other major languages. These include the late works Plato and Europe (1973) and Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History (1975), in which Patočka developed a philosophy of history identifying the Socratic-Platonic theme of the care of the soul as the basis of "Europe". Patočka attended Jan Neruda Grammar School. In 1936 he completed his habilitation with a thesis entitled Přirozený svět jako filosofický problém (The natural world as a philosophical problem), the first systematic phenomenological study in the Czech language, which was correspondingly influential on Czech philosophy. In 1937, Patočka took over the post of editor-in-chief of the philosophical journal Česká mysl (The Czech Mind). In 1938 he became a member of the Institut International de Philosophie. His works mainly dealt with the problem of the original, given world (Lebenswelt), its structure and the human position in it. He tried to develop this Husserlian concept under the influence of some core Heideggerian themes (e.g. historicity, technicity, etc.) On the other hand, he also criticised Heideggerian philosophy for not dealing sufficiently with the basic structures of being-in-the-world, which are not truth-revealing activities (this led him to an appreciation of the work of Hannah Arendt).
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