The Experiment of Night: Jan Patočka on War, and a Christianity to Come

Martin Kočí

Abstract


In the wake of the present-day crises, social conflicts and growing divisions, Patočka's reflections on war and totalitarianism appear abiding. Moreover, the enigmatic language, which Patočka uses, especially in his late Heretical Essays, sounds provoking and paradoxical. This article elaborates on the hypothesis that Patočka's reflections provide us with something more than a historical analysis interpreting the wars of the 20th century, and the 20th century as a war. I will argue that Patočka finds an intrinsic link between modernity, as a particular mode of being, and war and totalitarianism as unavoidable consequences of such a mode of being. To describe this situation, Patočka puts forth the dialectic of the light of day and the darkness of night. Paradoxically, in a somewhat mystical turn, Patočka gives preference to the night as the driving force of transgressing modern logic and the defective mode of modern being which throws crowds to the hell-fire of modern warfare. Against this background, this paper will present an innovative reading of Patočka's reflections as a specific search for an adequate spiritual response to the discontents of modernity. I will suggest that the trajectory of Patočka's thought can be read through the lens of a particular philosophy of religion, even though Patočka never elaborated on this avenue explicitly. Thus, I will propose that Patočka's thought opens up the possibility of reconsidering a heretical idea of Christianity that is coming after Christianity.


Keywords


Patočka, phenomenology, atonement, waste, heretiticism

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25180/lj.v19i1.75

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