The nostalgic movement of responsibility in Patočka's later teaching

Peter Mcdowell

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Paper published in Proceedingspeer-review


    In evaluating Jan Patočka’s last writings, Erazim Kohák discerns a subtle deviation from the phenomenological programs established by Husserl and Heidegger, namely the absorption of elements readily identifiable as Romantic or Nietzschean or otherwise attributable to Heidegger’s later thinking; or classical motifs, like the tradition of consolatory writing after Augustine (and reappearing in Comenius). 
    While not wishing to invalidate Kohák’s interpretation, the paper claims that these components reflect, more fundamentally, a nostalgic dimension within Patočka’s late philosophy, which, rather than signalling, say, an apocalyptic fissure in his philosophical style, derives instead from the abstract regulation of European civilisation (as Patočka conceives it).

    The paper argues that Patočka’s final works, especially Plato and Europe and the Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History , comprise coordinated attempts to establish a ‘teaching’ that challenges contemporary ph ilosophy to recapture the dire significance of technologically-mediated cultural decadence, and to appreciate that varieties of nostalgia, and consonant acts such as sacrifice, form an important means of disturbing the status quo.

    As a teaching, a substant ive philosophical curriculum emerges, centred around the interdependent topics of “care of the soul”, phenomenology of history, the concept “Europe”, and the metaphysics of phenomena (supported by clarifying investigations of the life-world). A dialogic pedagogy accompanies this curriculum, interleaving philosophical responsibility with sustained reflection. Moreover, recalling Patočka’s earnest attempts to reconfigure Aristotle’s philosophy of movement, autochthonous transitions between the three movements of human existence punctuate the general progression of topics, systematically so in Body, Community, Language, World.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationJudgement, Responsibility and the Life-World Perth Workshop 2011 Conference Proceedings
    EditorsL Ucnik, A Williams
    Place of PublicationMurdoch University, WA
    PublisherMurdoch University
    Number of pages9
    ISBN (Print)978-1-921877-03-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    EventJudgement, Responsibility and the Life-World: Perth Workshop 2011 - Perth, WA
    Duration: 28 Nov 201129 Nov 2011


    ConferenceJudgement, Responsibility and the Life-World: Perth Workshop 2011


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