Starting from studies included in Jan Patočka and the Heritage of Phenomenology, the author unfolds the thesis that Patočka was fundamentally a thinker in the tradition of the Enlightenment and of the Czech humanist revival. According to the author, Patočka sets out from Husserl’s phenomenology (in the spirit of Austrian positivism), deals with Heidegger’s objections (in the spirit of German idealism), and forges his own synthesis (in the spirit of French phenomenological vitalism). The author considers Patočka’s nihilistic phase, between the heartbreak of the Soviet occupation and the hope of Charta 77, as an extreme attempt to keep faith with the hopes of the Enlightenment in an age that offered no hope.
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The author inquires into the legitimacy of ethnically speciﬁc philosophy. He deﬁnes philosophy as casting doubt on fact and tracing lines of meaning in being as consciousness. Such questioning and seeking can claim ethnic speciﬁcity when it focuses on the lot and task of a given community of pilgrims through history. Precisely by inquiring into the meaning of history, if any, and the task of a given community within it – again, if any – philosophic reﬂection helps constitute a particular set of dwellers of a land and speakers of a language into a community we are accustomed to call a nation. The author completes his study by sketching the way three Czech thinkers of the second half of the twentieth cent¬ury who won European recognition – Jan Patočka, Karel Kosík, Milan Machovec – approached this task