Exploring the Underground Writings of Jan Patočka: Part II

This is the second lecture of the series. “History is not intelligible without free responsibility.” This is one of Patočka’s many “heretical” convictions. It is in stark contrast to materialist theories of history (notably, the Marxist) that he asserts “the primacy of freedom” in history. And what is freedom for? “Freedom,” we read in his second essay, “is freedom for truth.” This is a startling conclusion. Yet it is because of this conclusion that Patočka links the origins of “history” to the origins of European philosophy – by which he means, in the first place, the thought of Socrates and his protégé Plato. On Patočka’s telling, history and philosophy are both quests for truth.