Open Access

The ethical in Jan Patočka’s thought: Sacrifice and care for the soul


In his two works from the 1970s, Patočka proposes a very personal way that the spiritual crisis, which manifests itself as a techno-scientific reality of Gestell, can be overcome. Patočka argues that the only way to escape spiritual decline is through sacrifice. This study examines how the ethical is represented in Patočka’s philosophy. It focuses on his two main concepts of sacrifice and care for the soul and explores the relationship between them. Through a close reading of Plato and Europe (1973), ‘Four Seminars’ (1973), and his essay ‘The dangers of technicization’ (1973), this study reveals how Patočka proposes that the ethical can be implemented within the realm of the political. Drawing a parallel between Socrates’ and Patočka’s lives and fates, this study points to the significance of ethics in political life – both in the ancient Greek polis of Socrates’ time and in communist Czechoslovakia in Patočka’s time. This approach highlights the influence that the philosophy of Socrates had on Patočka’s thinking.