Religiöse Kulturen im Europa des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts




Dissertationsprojekt: Jan Patočka and Modernity

My PhD thesis Jan Patočka and Modernity deals with the work of Jan Patočka (1907–1977), probably the most important Czech philosopher of the twentieth century. In brief, Patočka nowadays is mostly known as a phenomenologist, a student of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, or as a spokesman of Charta 77 (Charter 77), a Czechoslovakian human rights movement. Most of the time of his academic career, Patočka was banned from teaching and could not freely publish his writings. For that reason, a notable part of his work consists of originally unpublished manuscripts or samizdat-publications.

My main concern is Patočka’s analysis of modernity, which can be followed through philosopher’s whole work, including the manuscripts, working notes or personal correspondence. More precisely, I would like to formulate my own interpretation of this dimension of Patočka’s work, emphasizing its historical background, multiple influences and continuous development. In addition, my aim is to put Patočka’s ideas on modernity into the context of contemporary historical sociology, especially through the perspective of civilizational analysis.

One of the important parts of my thesis is Patočka’s interpretation of religion: I would like to show that Patočka’s work includes an original attempt to define the historical meaning of religion. Moreover, it is my argument that Patočka’s philosophical concept of religion, which is reflecting also sociological and historical perspectives, is not outdated and could represent an interesting contribution to the contemporary discussions on secularization, resacralization, political religion etc.