2018-2020: Finitude and Meaning.

Phenomenological Perspectives on History in the Light of the Paul Ricoeur Jan Patocka Relationship.


This project aims to capture the complexity of the phenomenological perspectives on history by focusing on Paul Ricœur and Jan Patočka’s theories on this topic. The premise from which this research work starts is that intertwining the historical life and the reflection on history (or in other words the finitude and the meaning) provides new insights in the understanding of history. To this end, the systematic philosophical analysis of Ricœur and Patočka’s views on history will be here combined with a historical-biographical approach, pursuing not only to sketch out their alternate role as a victim, actor and witness of history, but to discover and to outline their intellectual ties throughout the XXth century, expressed through readings, introductions and interpretations related mainly to the phenomenology of history. Our project involves three directions of research: by studying the unpublished documents from the Ricœur and Patočka Archives, we will clarify some important aspects less known of the relationship between the two philosophers. A special emphasis will be laid here on the degree of involvement Ricœur had in supporting the philosophical dissidence from Prague, and on the reception of the French phenomenology in Prague’s intellectual milieu, due to Patočka’s seminars and writings. At the second level of research, we’ll take into consideration the main phenomenological sources of Ricœur’s and Patočka’s theories on history, but also the critic and innovative approaches of the two thinkers to the phenomenological tradition. On this basis, we will finally elaborate upon a series of convergence and divergence points between the theories of Ricœur and Patočka, in regard to the methodology of historiography, the historicity of human existence and the problematic nature of the past.