Ľubica Učník (Perth)
The Current Crisis – The Engineering of Consent: Jan Patočka on the Radical Supercivilisation

In this paper, I will start with the elimination of acting human beings from the space of the political, now reconfigured on the abstract model of market relations, to look at the crisis in and of the world. What we have recognised previously as social problems that we need to address on the level of society are now reconfigured as ‘psychological traits’ in each of us, supposedly responding to a self-running and self-knowing market. Individuals are stripped of every other human characteristic. We are self-sufficient, self-driven, self-interested ‘rational’ atoms driven by the entrepreneurial spirit. Informed by Patočka’s understanding of modern society as technological civilization, I will argue that to limit ourselves to the ‘current crisis of Europe’ is to miss a world crisis, defined by neoliberal economic domination of the world. The present-day crisis is not only European; it is not only a crisis of rational and spiritual European culture: it is a crisis that affects us all. Modern society is in crisis, and this crisis is not only political, economic or environmental but is also, fundamentally, a crisis of meaning.

Francesco Tava (Leuven), Darian Meacham (Bristol)
The Crisis of the European Sciences and the European Crisis

With this paper we are going to try to present the contours of our argument in favour of using the phenomenological concept of crisis, as developed by Husserl and Patocka, as a heuristic or interpretive tool to understanding certain aspects of the present European political landscape. The phenomenological idea of Crisis is not the key to understanding all aspects of the current European crisis, nor is its use as a heuristic limited to the European sphere, but that is the scope of this current investigation. Our presentation will have the following structure: we will first provide a sketch of the general structure of the phenomenological concept of crisis in its salient aspects. Here we will focus on Husserl’s understanding of the term and Patocka’s critique of Husserl’s concept – tied in with a critique of Husserl’s understanding of the lifeworld – and his further political and ethical development of these two intertwined concepts: crisis and lifeworld. In the second part of the paper, we will look how the politicized crisis concepts can be applied to aspects of the contemporary European crisis. Finally, we will briefly examine how the phenomenological interpretation of the European crisis stacks up to other (predominant) lines of thought in contemporary political theory, namely Habermasian critical theory and the constitutional and intergovernalist position put forward by Richard Bellamy and his co-authors.

Jakub Homolka (Prague)
Jan Patocka's Heritage at the Beginning of the 21st Century. Historical Paths, Present Problems, and Future Challenges

This paper deals with the problems of the interpretation of Jan Patočka’s heritage, emphasizing the motif of the crisis of Europe. More precisely, the paper is composed of two parts: (1.) Firstly, I want to highlight the unique character of Patočka’s work, which causes problems with its publication as well as with its interpretation. (2.) Secondly, I will outline my own way of reading of Patočka’s work – emphasizing the motif of the “crisis of Europe“, which I propose as a way of understanding Patočka’s heritage as a whole.

Part 1: Jan Patočka’s Heritage

The first part of the paper focuses on the following points: (1.1) the introduction of the unique character of Patočka's heritage, including the description of the historical circumstances of the philosopher's life, which influenced the character of his work; (1.2) the reconstruction of the story of the preservation, editorial work, and publication of Patočka’s writings, incl. the summary of the discussions about the conception of the Collected Works; (1.3) the elaboration of the obstacles connected with the interpretation of Patočka’s work, pointing out some partial examples (such as Martin Cajthaml’s book Europe and the Care of the Soul, 2010), which should illustrate its problems as well as its challenges.

Part 2: The Crisis of Europe

In order to give a response to some of the previously mentioned challenges, I want to propose my own reading of Patočka’s work. More precisely, I will introduce the motif of the crisis of Europe as a way of reading and understanding Patočka‘s work as a whole – it is my argument that the motif of the crisis of Europe, and of the crisis of modernity in general, goes through different thematical parts of Patočka's writings, incl. phenomenological studies, philosophy of history, lectures on Greek philosophy etc.

In this way, the paper should link the problem of the crisis of Europe to the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Jan Patočka's Archive in Prague, which represents a crucial centre of preservation and publication of Patočka's heritage.

Caterina di Fazio (Paris/Prague)
Le mouvement de l’histoire. Conquête spatiale et lutte contre la déchéance

In this paper, I will try to demonstrate that a phenomenological conception of space as champ phénoménal corresponds to a political conception of the space as the place of intersubjectivity. What Patočka names “public space” is the meeting place of phenomenology and political thought. The public space is a phenomenological space in the sense that it is a space of appearance. In such space every constitution of power and every awareness of people depends on appearance. Action is the only way one appears to another. Hence if politics is essentially constituted by acts and actions, and action is the mode of my appearance to others, politics and appearance reveal themselves as intrinsically related. So that we’ll have to call the public space of Patočka’s third movement of existence, public space of appearance. Indeed, the third movement of existence is indistinctly the movement of the access to appearance and the act of the institution of a political life. It is the movement by which we create a community, to be more exact it is the movement of the institution of a community in and through the relationship to appearing. Now, if political space and phenomenological space coincide, it is yet still to be understood how, in this place characterized by the conflict, men can not only live together but also, as Patočka writes, live one for the other. That is to say, how a community may be founded.

If Europe could reign undisputed and maintain a state of balance for two thousand years, even through “struggles and suffering”, it has been thanks to the heritage of the polis, the “care for the soul”. But Europe destroyed itself with its own forces. In other words, the disappearance of Europe is due to the change of nature of the care for the soul, which since the seventeenth century has become “care for world domination”. In the twentieth century, the power that man had stockpiled, escaped his hands. Now, if the spiritual life, in the contemporary situation, is characterized by alienation, its other side is the will to power, a will deprived of a subject. The question becomes then whether this heritage called “care for the soul” is still that which makes possible a glimpse of a world and of a time for contemporary humanity.

If, as Patočka writes in the Conférences de Louvain (1965), history is determined on the one side by chance, contingency, and on the other side by what he calls “the logic of the spiritual time to come”, if Europe has gained power through the fulfilment of “the ideal of modern science” – the ideal of a “total rationalisation of reality”, of a transformation of contingency into sense and of conflict into order – and if this same overpowered subject who could master the world and reduce it to an object, now finds itself deprived of a world, then we will have to come back to the history of this ideal of modern science, in order to reunify the scientific world and natural world, by going back till the moment in which natural and mathematical sciences were not yet detached from the life-world.

The question is now whether it is possible to retrace backwards down this path. Is there any reversal point? And once this reversal and junction point is discovered, do we find a world stripped of objectification, a space before the conquest of space where all opposites, including subject and object, can be together, as they originally were in polemos? The solution may lie in the formulation of a genealogy of the modern scientific ideal, that will reach the horizon of conflict – the conflict between the life-world and its objectification – and achieve a creative synthesis of seventeenth century tensions, which traced the future of the modern age and culminated in the contemporary crisis.

Even if we accept the crisis as definitive, still, in the middle of this negativity, the space of understanding opens up. The crisis itself can not mean the end of culture, nor the end of history itself, just as the crisis of Europe does not imply the political end of Europe, or the disappearance of the political space called Europe in which we still live. Hence, we will have to reflect on the means and ends, given by this crisis, to overcome it once we would have understood it. Everything depends on the possibility of completing a synthesis in the middle of conflict. There is no history without conflict, because conflict is the place of history, its inner essence. And the history of Europe is the history of the struggle against decline, a struggle which is all to be done.

“Si nous voulons nous-mêmes exister, il nous faut croire que l’Europe existera encore – l’Europe des idéaux humanistes, ceux-ci fussent-ils formulés autrement que par le passé, transformés, approfondis et éclaircis par les luttes et les souffrances de l’heure actuelle. […] Ils ne nous décevront pas. Ils ne pourront pas décevoir, car ils resteront partie intégrante de l’Europe” .

Ce qui a permis à l’Europe de régner incontestée et de maintenir un état d’équilibre pendant deux mille ans, même à travers “les luttes et les souffrances”, est l’héritage de la polis, le “soin de l’âme”. Mais l’Europe s’est anéantie avec ses propres forces. En d’autres termes, la disparition de l’Europe est due au changement de nature du soin de l’âme, qui depuis le XVIIe siècle est devenu “soin de la domination du monde”. Au XXe siècle la puissance que l’homme a accumulé est échappée des ses mains. Or, si la vie spirituelle, dans la situation contemporaine, est caractérisée par l’aliénation, son autre face est la volonté de puissance, une volonté restée dépourvue de sujet. La question est donc de savoir si cet héritage qu’on nomme “soin de l’âme”, est-il encore ce qui rend possible l’entrevision d’un temps et d’un monde pour l’humanité contemporaine.

Si, comme Patočka l’écrit dans les Conférences de Louvain (1965), l’histoire est déterminée d’un côté par le hasard, la contingence, et de l’autre côté par ce qu’il nomme “la logique de l’avenir spirituel”, si l’Europe a acquis puissance après puissance à travers la réalisation de “l’idéal de la science moderne” – l’idéal d’une “rationalisation totale du réel”, d’une transformation de la contingence en nécessité et du conflit en ordre – et si finalement cette même surpuissance du sujet, qui l’a rendu capable de maitriser le monde et de le réduire à objet, l’a aussi distancié, d’une façon apparemment définitive, de son monde, il faudra revenir sur l’histoire de cet idéal de la science moderne afin de réunifier monde scientifique et monde naturel, en remontant jusqu’au moment où les sciences mathématiques de la nature étaient encore liées au monde-de-la-vie. La question est maintenant de savoir s’il est possible de reparcourir ce chemin à l’envers. Y a-t-il un point de renversement ? Et une fois découvert ce point de renversement et de jointure, retrouvera-t-on un monde dépouillé de toute objectivation, un espace avant la conquête spatiale où tous les opposés, notamment le sujet et l’objet, peuvent être ensemble, comme ils l’étaient à l’origine dans polemos ? La solution réside donc peut-être dans la formulation d’une généalogie de l’idéal scientifique moderne, qui aille jusqu’au bout du conflit – le conflit du monde-de-la-vie et de son objectivation – et qui parvienne à une synthèse créative des tensions d’une période historique – le XVIIe siècle – qui a tracé l’avenir de l’époque moderne et même son aboutissement dans la crise contemporaine.

Même si l’on accepte cette situation de crise comme définitive, il est bien au milieu de cette négativité que s’ouvre l’espace de la compréhension. La crise en tant que telle ne peut pas signifier la fin de la culture, ni la fin de l’histoire au sens propre. Tout comme la crise de l’Europe n’enveloppe pas la fin politique de l’Europe, ou bien la disparition de l’espace politique qu’on nomme Europe et au sein duquel on vit encore. Il s’agira donc de réfléchir sur les moyens et les fins, donnés par cette crise, pour l’outrepasser dès qu’on l’aura comprise. Tout se joue dans la possibilité d’achever une synthèse au milieu du conflit. Il n’y a pas d’histoire sans conflit. Car le conflit est le lieu de l’histoire, son essence interne. Et l’histoire de l’Europe est l’histoire de la lutte contre la déchéance, une lutte qui est toute encore à faire.

Samuel Abraham (Bratislava)
"Fortress Europe" and Crisis of European Identity

The paper deals with the crisis of European identity and the difficulties of finding out what unites and what divides Europe. If the EU is to survive—there is no guarantee that it will in its current form—and if the economic situation is to be stabilized, and if the power of the center and integration is to increase, the question of European identity will be back on the table. Indeed, in order to legitimize these new arrangements, Europeans across the continent will ask themselves what unites them, why there should be solidarity with people on the other side of the continent and, for that matter, with people trying to Enter Europe from other continents.The concept of ‘fortress Europe’ usually represents physical protection against the outsiders to get in illegally. However, the same expression can be a mental and psychological condition of Europeans refusing to keep out would be immigrants in order to protect their own safety and prosperity in the future. Could it be that in the future fear and protection of material interest would be the source of common identity rather than the values and institututions related to our Hellenistic, Roman and Judeo-Chrisitan heritage?

Eduard Parhomenko (Tartu)
Der Raub der Europa im Lichte der Frage nach dem Anfang der Philosophie

Der Vortrag setzt sich mit der Rezeption vom Denken Martin Heideggers in der russischen neurechten Ideologie am Beispiel der Heidegger-Deutungen von Alexandr Dugin aus. Im Zentrum der Analyse steht der Zusammenhang zwischen der Philosophie und dem geopolitischen Denken. Genauer die Frage: Wie Dugin mit Heideggers Gedanken vom anderen Anfang der Philosophie umgeht, um den heutigen geopolitschen Ansprüchen Russlands eine philosophische Begründung zu liefern und die mit dem Zusammenbruch der Sowjetunion angeblich herbeigeführte Krisis zu “lösen”. Das Problem liegt nicht bloss darin, ob Dugins Heidegger-Verständnis philosophisch ernst zu nehmen ist. Es beunruhigt vielmehr die Vision von der “russischen Welt” (pусский мир), von Europa und der vielpolaren Weltordnung, der man eine philosophische Geltung verschaffen will und die man durch militärische Gewalt zu erzwingen bereit ist, dabei auf Heideggers Denken verweisend. So können wir auch nicht der Frage entkommen, inwieweit das seinsgesschichtliches Denken von Heidegger sich mit der Ontologie des Selbstseins und der Selbstständigkeit der “zwischeneuropäischen” Völker eigentlich verträgt, da bei Heidegger der seinsgeschichtliche deutsch-griechische Bezug als der deutsch-russische sich herauszustellten tendiert (“Die Geschichte des Seyns”, “Überlegungen XII-XV”) und damit die Souveränität der “zwischeneuropäischen” Völker als eine Krisen- bzw. Übergangserscheinung bewerten lässt.

In seinen Büchern “Мартин Хайдеггер: философия другого Началa” (2010), “Мартин Хайдеггер: возможность русской философии” (2011), “В поисках тёмного Логоса” (2013), “Мартин Хайдеггер. Последний бог” (2014) sucht Dugin das seinsgeschichtliche Denken von Heidegger im Sinne der Lehre der nachmetaphysischen vielpolaren Neuanfangen von Philosophien bzw. logoi als die Alternativen zur westlichen eurozentrischen Philosophietradition zu rekonstruieren. Als ein solcher Neuanfang wird die Möglichkeit des ursprünglichen Anfangs der russischen Philosophie lanciert, der geopolitisch zunächst im Gestalt von Neurussland (Новороссия) und damit im Sinne des Anstosses zur “Selbstbefreiung” (bzw. Beraubung) der Europa zu realisieren gälte.

Laut Dugin wäre anhand Heideggers Denken das Europäische bzw. die Philosophie des ersten Anfangs und daraus entstandene Rationalität, Humanismus ebenso wie Liberalismus und Amerikanismus als das das ursprünglich Russische Entstellende und Kolonisierende zu überwinden. Damit geht es um die Befreiung von einer aufgezwungenen Selbstkolonisation, d.h von einem krisenhaften Zustand der Kultur und Gesellschaft (aрхеомодерн) , der ihre historischen Wurzel in den Modernisierungs- und Europisierungsversuchen von Russland hat und sich in den Selbstdeutungsmustern widerspiegelt, die von scharfen reinen Dualismen wie Neues–Altes, Christliches–Heidnisches, Russland—Europa geformt sind. Vor diesem Hintergrund wirft sich aber die Frage auf, ob diese die russische Kultur tief prägenden Dualismen durch die Heidegger-Interpretation von Dugin überhaupt überwunden werden konnten. Und ob es nicht eigentlich um die Intesivierung dieser Dualismen im Sinne einer Weltkrisis gehe?

Mihail Evans (Bucharest)
Crisis? What Crisis? Whose Crisis? Husserl, Habermas and Derrida

Eighty years ago almost to the day the great German philosopher Edmund Husserl gave a lecture in Vienna in which he famously proclaimed a European crisis. Six months later, in the autumn, this was followed by a second to the Philosophy Circle here in Prague. Both these lectures - 'Philosophy in the Crisis of European Humanity' and The Crisis of European Science and Psychology' – link Europe and crisis in their titles and argument. Today, in the years since 2008, we have also got quite used to speaking of 'crisis' and it has become an almost unthinkingly accepted term in our everyday speech. Among philosophers it is Jurgen Habermas particularly taken up the term in his work. My paper will examine what relationship there might be between these two different crises. In elucidating it I will draw on the work of Jacques Derrida, and in particular a much overlooked interview in the late 1990s, which addresses the idea of crisis. I will enlarge on Derrida's suggestion that a discourse on crisis is intelligible only 'in regard to an order'. That is, if we speak of a situation as subject to crisis we imply the existence of an order with a normal and stable state which has been disrupted. Derrida is extremely cautious about deployments of the term 'crisis' and argues that when confronted with a discourse on crisis one should ask: “Who is talking about crisis? Where ? To whom? In what form? In view of what effects or interests?”. In the current European situation we might then be wary of many of the usages of the term 'crisis' that normalise the 'pre-crisis' situation or imply that there was a stability in the past that is now suddenly lacking.

James Mensch (Prague)
The Current Crisis in Europe from a Phenomenological/Psychological Perspective

Eighty years ago, in his Vienna lecture, Husserl wrote: “The European nations are sick; Europe itself, they say, is in critical condition.” Asserting the “obvious difference … between health and sickness … for societies, for peoples, for states,” he turned his questioning to Europe. How do we distinguish between its “healthy growth and decline”? Can we find within Europe a recognizable shape, an identifying characteristic whose loss would be a symptom of illness? Then as now, such questions turn on the objective identity of Europe and the disturbances that rend this. Such disturbances recall the most basic sense of crisis (κρίσις), which is that of a dividing or separating. In what follows, I shall analyze the crisis of Europe in this fundamental sense. The context of my remarks will be its current division. This is the divide between economic and political senses of its identity as a monetary union, I shall begin with a psychological and phenomenological description of the splitting of self-identity and then attempt to apply this to Europe’s current situation.

Chiara Pesaresi (Macerata/Paris)
De la positivité des sciences à la négativité de l’esprit

Most of Patočka’s essays about the crisis of science and about the critique of the supercivilization dates back to its philosophical maturity; however, this reflection, which could be described as ethical (as Patočka himself actually did), is based on some crucial issues developed by the author during the Forties and Fifties. My analysis will be especially focused on two texts dating from this period: Kritika Husserlovy fenomenologické filosofie (1950) and certain passages of Věčnost a dějinnost (1947), in which Patočka explicitly deals with the question of the dialectic between the “positive and compulsory” nature of the science and the “negative and free” nature of the philosophical act that originates from the spirit.

First, I would like to develop the issue of the negative nature of the spirit and of the status of this negativity, which is the key to reaching a problematic approach to reality. In Věčnost a dějinnost, Patočka describes the structure of the spirit as intrinsically dialectic and the essence of this dialectic is “a fight against the objectness” and its supposed exclusivity. The spirit expresses the difference and the unpredictability of the thought, which breaks the in-difference of the mathematised world of the positive sciences. However, the assertion of this difference is always a negative act. Starting from some passages of the manuscript and of Negativní platonismus, I will try to describe this negativity conveyed by the spirit according to a triple articulation: as distancing, conversion and overcoming.

We must add that the negative-conflictual – i.e. free and historical – dimension of the existence is denied by science as well as by a certain metaphysical tradition (that for Patočka means any subjectivism or post-Kantian idealism). Therefore, I will speak about the anti-philosophical complicity of metaphysics and science, which is attested by their subjectivism, by their desire to extend the scientific rigor to philosophy and to vest the human kind with a total supremacy on the world. Finally, metaphysics has the same unhistorical, uncritical and positive nature as the exact sciences, even if it originates from an act of freedom oriented to the totality.

Lastly, we need to consider whether phenomenology, as conceived and radicalized by Patočka – in particular by the universalization of the epoché – is able to react to the anti-philosophical instances of a technical-technological and post-metaphysical age. In an interview of 1973 about technical age and sacrifice, Patočka seems to draft a dialectical alliance between crisis of meaning and critical spirit. This alliance is shown by two personalities which represent also the real sense of the sacrifice, Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov, as to express Hölderlin’s famous line: “where the danger is, also grows the saving power”. As a critical reflection on the crisis and a problematic approach to the world, the phenomenological philosophy could represent this ground of salvation.

La plupart des essais de Patočka consacrés au sujet de la crise des sciences et à la critique de la surcivilisation remontent à sa maturité philosophique ; cette réflexion, qu’on pourrait qualifier d’éthique (d’ailleurs c’est Patočka lui-même qui le fait), me semble pourtant pousser ses racines dans certains noyaux théorétiques développés par l’auteur au fil des années Quarante et Cinquante. Je concentrerai mon analyse surtout sur deux textes qui date de cette époque : Kritika Husserlovy fenomenologické filosofie (1950) et certains passages de Eternité et historicité (1947), où Patočka me semble poser de façon explicite la question de la dialectique entre le caractère « positif et contraignant » de la science et celui, negatif et libre, de l’acte philosophique.

C’est à partir de là que je voudrais dévélopper, dans un premier moment, le discours sur le caractère negatif de l’esprit et sur le statut de cette négativité, qui represente la clé de toute attitude problematisante et, par là, du dépassement possible de l’immediatement-donnée. Patočka décrit en effet la structure de l’esprit comme foncièrement dialectique, l’essence de cette dialectique étant «la lutte contre l’objectité » et sa prétendue exclusivité. L’esprit manifeste la différence et l’imprévisibilité de la pensée qui perce l’in-différence du monde mathématisé envisagé par les sciences positives. Or, l’affirmation de cette différence est toujours un acte négatif ; je tacherai de décrire cette négativité véhiculée par l’esprit selon une triple articulation : comme suspension, conversion et dépassement.

Il faut ajouter que la dimension négative-conflictuelle, c’est-à-dire libre et historique, de l’existence est niée par la science aussi bien que par une certaine tradition métaphysique (entendons par là, avec Patočka, tout subjectivisme de type idéaliste postkantien). Je m’attarderai, dans un deuxième moment, sur la complicité antiphilosophique de la métaphysique et de la science issue du positivisme – complicité attestée par le subjectivisme qui les sous-tende, par la volonté d’étendre l’idée de rigueur scientifique à la philosophie (de Descartes à Husserl en passant par Hegel) et d’investir l’homme d’une suprématie totale sur les choses. Finalement, bien qu’elle naisse d’un acte de liberté voué à la totalité, la métaphysique a le même caractère anhistorique, acritique et positif que les sciences exactes.

Enfin, il faudra se demander si la phénoménologie, telle qu’elle est conçue et radicalisée par Patočka – notamment par l’universalisation de l’epoché, définie comme « plus négative que la négation » – est en mesure de faire face aux instances antiphilosophiques de cette époque technique et post-métaphysiques, sourde à l’appel de la transcendance et aveugle à l’essence négative de l’esprit. Dans un entretien de 1973 sur L’époque technique et le sacrifice, Patočka me semble ébaucher une alliance dialectique entre crise du sens et esprit critique : s’il est vrai que «là où croît le péril croît aussi ce qui sauve», la phénoménologie en tant que réflexion critique sur la crise pourrait-elle représenter ce sol de salut.

Michaela Belejkaničová (London)
The Conversion as a Solution to the Crisis: Patočka’s and Foucault’s Understanding of Metanoia

In The Heretical Essays, Patočka suggests an explicit solution to the problem that is the crisis occurring in humanity. He sees a rescue from this decline, following his own words, in a new gigantic conversion: metanoia.

Patočka’s above solution to the crisis, however, appears to be problematic. Firstly, following Patočka’s own analysis of the concept, it remains yet unclear as to what metanoia is, and what steps metanoia involves for the human being in the concrete world. Secondly, Patočka’s solution to the crisis stems from an exclusively Christian form of conversion, the application of which, either in the back-then era of totalitarianism or in today’s secular world, remains questionable.

Through a close analysis of the key theses about metanoia, I will reconstruct Patočka’s understanding of the concept. I will confront Patočka’s ideas with a view on metanoia, as offered by his contemporary Michel Foucault in the lectures The Hermeneutics of the Subject, and clarify why Patočka sees the solution to the crisis in this particular, exclusively Christian, model of conversion. The objective will be to demonstrate how, and through which passages, metanoia may, ultimately, resolve the crisis.

I will argue that Patočka’s solution to the crisis, as embodied by the exclusively Christian conversion metanoia, is not accidental. Patočka correctly recognised that only metanoia, unlike other parallel models of conversion (Platonic epistrophē and Stoic tekhnē tou biou), equips us with distinctive aspects that are instrumental in the resolution of the crisis. Finally, I will critically assess whether metanoia could benefit us today. I will question whether metanoia can have a realistic application within the social, political and moral crisis we experience in the secular world today.

Camilla Rocca (Paris)
La crise de la problématisation du sens

Dans mon intervention je voudrais analyser le concept même du sens ; pour cela la phénoménologie de Patočka peut nous aider à comprendre celui-ci en tant que essence dynamique. Il s’agit de ne plus essayer de dé-finir le sens, ce qui implique de le figer dans une signification, une formule finie ou dans une Idée conforme au platonisme positif que Patočka, justement, critique. Au contraire, à l’aide de la pensée patočkienne du mouvement, nous pouvons concevoir le sens – qu’il s’agisse du sujet, du monde, des choses ou des valeurs - comme une essence à exposer plutôt qu’à expliquer, à vivre plutôt qu’à nommer. Au lieu d’avoir un sens, le monde a à être son propre sens, exactement comme le sujet ; en ce sens, nous pouvons alors dire que le sens du sujet est sa propre existence.

Cela ne signifie pas de se résigner à l’absurde ou à la non-connaissance : conformément à la théorie patočkienne de la négativité, nier la positivité du sens ne signifie pas affirmer le non-sens ; l’ébranlement du sens donné ne jette pas l’homme dans le règne de la mort de la morale et de la raison, au contraire il ouvre la possibilité de la liberté. En d’autres termes, l’ébranlement du sens n’est pas un renoncement au sens, mais exactement le contraire.

Jean-Luc Nancy, dans son texte Le sens du monde, reconnaît une chance dans l’ouverture de l’abandon du sens : ceci ne laisse pas un vide mais ouvre une demande, un questionnement qui est celui même de la philosophie.

Or, qu’est-ce qui exprime l’affirmation si souvent répétée de nos jours, selon laquelle « notre époque manque de sens et qu’elle est en quête de sens » ? Bien sûr nous nous confrontons aujourd’hui à la fin d’un sens, au sens d’une vision du monde, la vision du monde-objet, objectivé, instrumentalisé, maitrisé et dominé par le pouvoir empirique de la science et de la technique. Nous réalisons enfin que dans cette réification de la totalité omni-englobante, dans cette tentative de l’humanité de mettre fin à sa propre finitude, l’homme même est devenu l’objet de son ambition, rien d’autre qu’un instrument ou un outil. Nous reconnaissons donc que dans cette prolifération technique nous avons oublié le questionnement qui a déterminé la naissance de la philosophie, questionnement jailli de la crise du sens précédemment donné et traditionnellement accepté. En d’autre terme, la crise de notre époque est la crise de la crise du sens, de la problématisation du sens qui coïncide avec la philosophie même. Pour cette raison je crois que, lorsque nous nous interrogeons sur notre condition morale et existentielle, par le fait même de nous interroger, la quête de sens qui caractérise notre époque n’indique pas un manque de sens mais la reconnaissance de la négativité essentielle du sens.

Martin Ritter (Prague): Spiritual Essence of Europe and Un/natural Overcoming of its Crisis. Reconsidering Patočka´s Reflection.

The paper examines Jan Patočka´s notion of the essence of Europe, of its crisis, and of the possibilities of its overcoming. Europe is fundamentally based, according to Patočka, on freedom and historicity of human beings. The contemporary crisis, or the reign of Force, is correlative to the fact that these beings are not able to care for (their) freedom and historicity, for their “souls”; because of that the contemporary history is no history at all. Firstly, the paper explores Patočka´s idea of “the solidarity of the shaken” as the way out of this crisis, or as the solving of conflict in Being by conflict. Secondly, asking the question who are “the shaken” makes it possible to show Patočka´s Eurocentrism: the strict dividing line he draws between the European way of life opened to Being, or appearing as such, and the non-European cultures, which are essentially ahistorical. Finally, with regard to the concept of the three movements of existence, the paper questions the strict dichotomy between the historical (the third movement; Europe) and the ahistorical (the first and the second movement; the rest of the world) part of humanity.