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Solidarity of the Shaken: The Ethical and the Political in the Thought of Jan Patočka

Belejkanicova, Michaela; (2021) Solidarity of the Shaken: The Ethical and the Political in the Thought of Jan Patočka. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

In his final work, Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History (1975), Jan Patočka introduces the concept of a novel political community – the solidarity of the shaken. Conventional interpretations argue that this concept laid the phenomenological foundations of the civic initiative of Charter 77 and the politics of dissent. This view, however, reduces the scope of Patočka’s philosophy and undermines the contemporary relevance of his thought. The aim of this dissertation is to abstract Patočka’s ideas on the solidarity of the shaken from the context of Czech dissent and to highlight its relevance in a wider scholarly debate on the concept of community. First, I examine the development of Patočka’s idea of the crisis throughout his philosophical career. I describe the phenomenological foundations of the crisis, as well as Patočka’s critical reflections on the political situation of his time. All these developments of the crisis climax with the emergence of the salvific community – the solidarity of the shaken. Second, I analyse a movement from the experience (Erlebnis) to history. I contrast the solidarity of the shaken with Ernst Jünger’s idea of solidarity as Frontgemeinschaft, both of which emerge from the conditions of the frontline. Patočka observes that Jünger’s Frontgemeinschaft, being founded on the Nietzschean doctrine of will to power, sets a par excellence foundation for a reductively materialist history and is insufficient as a response to the crisis. However, both solidarities are constituted via transcendence. Third, I reconstruct the concept of transcendence described in Jünger’s essay ‘Across the Line’ (1953), which heralds history by ‘extension’ of nihilism and the idea of transcendence in Patočka’s works founded on ethical principles. Finally, I analyse in detail the ethical foundations of the solidarity of the shaken – the concepts of sacrifice and care for the soul – and I focus on the outcomes of these solidarities in the political realm. Patočka defines the solidarity of the shaken in an attempt to revive the positive aspects of solidarity and to break with the regressive (if not sinister) uses to which it was put in the 20th century. More importantly, via the solidarity of the shaken, Patočka responds to the perils of materialist history, which laid the foundations for fascism and the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, and which represents danger regarding how to solve the crisis of democracy and the challenges of neo-liberal globalisation today.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Solidarity of the Shaken: The Ethical and the Political in the Thought of Jan Patočka
Event: UCL
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10132312
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