Publication: Thinking After Europe: Jan Patocka and Politics

Thinking After Europe is a comprehensive exposition and analysis of Jan Patočka’s political philosophy, in particular his idea of Europe and concept of ‘post-Europe’, and its continuing relevance to philosophy and contemporary politics. The book was co-edited by Darian Meacham (lecturer in philosophy).

Jan Patočka, perhaps more so than any other philosopher in the twentieth century, managed to combine intense philosophical insight with a farsighted analysis of the idea and challenges facing Europe as a historical, cultural and political signifier. As a political dissident in communist Czechoslovakia he also became a moral and political inspiration to a generation of Czechs, including Václav Havel. He accomplished this in a time of intense political repression, when not even the hint of a unified Europe seemed visible, by showing in exemplary fashion how concrete thought can be without renouncing in any way its depth. Europe as an idea and a political project is a central issue in contemporary political theory. Patočka’s political thoughts offers many original insights into questions surrounding the European project. Here, for the first time, a group of leading scholars from different disciplines gather together to discuss the specific political impact of Patočka’s philosophy and its lasting significance.

Reviews

More than any other volume, Thinking after Europe demonstrates the philosophical and political relevance of Patočka. Not only does it include two new texts written by Patočka, it also presents new essays on Patočka written by the best scholars. Thinking after Europe runs from political dissidence to political phenomenology, to the philosophy of history, and the rethinking of community – in order to arrive at the very question of Europe. This is an immensely valuable collection. Leonard Lawlor, Pennsylvania State University

Thinking after Europe makes important contributions to both phenomenology and political philosophy. Exploring the neglected political dimensions of Patočka’s a-subjective phenomenology, these essays show how its grounding in a provocative rethinking of human historicity affords productive new philosophical resources for engaging critically with vital issues of global significance. With phenomenology at a methodological crossroads and enlightened political thought prone to naïve optimism or undue pessimism, this stimulating reconsideration of Patočka’s ‘heretical’ project is timely and very welcome indeed. Bryan Smyth,, University of Mississippi

Even if the problem of the political, in all its dimensions, was always at the centre of Patočka’s work, it has never before been the object of an exhaustive and profound study. This book, edited by Francesco Tava and Darian Meacham, changes that. For Patočka the question of the political is inseparable from phenomenology itself. This is clear across his theory of the three movements of human existence, but also in the themes of community, dissidence, history, and finally the meaning and current situation of of Europe. This book takes on all these questions in a rigorous, lucid, and profound fashion. It is an indispensable reference for anyone interested in Patočka’s work. Renaud Barbaras (Paris 1)

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