The shattering of meaning. Jan Patočka and his triple concept of history

Continental Philosophy Review 55 (2):177-192 (2021)
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My paper aims at laying out the main tenets of Patočka’s unusual and highly provocative position with regard to the question of history, drawing essentially on his Heretical Essays on the Philosophy of History, while also gathering insights from other works such as Eternity and Historicity and Europe and post-Europe. In the first part, I set in place the overall framework of this analysis, and show that three distinct, yet entwined concepts of history are operative in Patočka’s work: the understanding of history as a specific regime of meaning, as an existential possibility of the human Dasein, and as a “epochal” dynamic. In the second part, I reconstruct the criticism Patočka mounts against the classical philosophies of history and indicate that his rejection of a teleological account of history is compatible with the attempt of establishing an intrinsic correlation between meaning and history. In the final part, I stress the importance acquired by the experience of the “shattering of meaning” for Patočka’s threefold understanding of history and argue for the possibility of crafting a unitary framework which would encompass his analysis.



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Ovidiu Stanciu
Universidad Diego Portales

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Meaning in history.Karl Löwith - 1949 - [Chicago]: Univ. of Chicago Press.
Plato and Europe.Jan Patočka - 2002 - Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

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