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20. století

Jan Patocka

One of the most significant Czech philosophers and a prominent phenomenologist
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He was most likely the most significant Czech philosopher of the 20th century and one of Edmund Husserl’s last students. Patocka is one the few Czech philosophers who achieved worldwide recognition. He was much involved in fighting against totalitarian regimes, particularly communism.
He studied Slavic philology, Romanistics and philosophy at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University. In 1928 he met E. Husserl in Paris and later, in Freiburg, he studied phenomenology under him and M. Heidegger. In 1936 he successfully defended his excellent habilitation thesis entitled “The Natural World as a Philosophical Problem,” which greatly influenced the phenomenological community. During the war he taught in high-school (the universities being closed) and was later assigned a job in the construction industry. During communism he was famous enough

to keep his position at the Charles University, but was however greatly persecuted, and even more so after he signed the Charter 77, to which he also contributed with fundamental texts. He was repeatedly interrogated by the StB (communist Secret Police) and it is believed that the professor succumbed to a stroke and died as a result of psychologically exhausting interrogations and poor health.
Patocka was an original author, who in his work contemplated the phenomenology of Martin Heidegger and developed it in his own way. In addition he was greatly inspired by Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology. His more significant works include Negative Platonism and primarily, Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History. He also wrote massive Commeniological Studies. Patocka was an excellent translator of classic works from French and German.


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