Department for the Study of Modern Czech Philosophy

Chair: Ivan Landa, Ph.D.

Deputy chair: Jan Mervart, Ph.D.

The Department for the Study of Modern Czech Philosophy carries out basic research on the history of Czech philosophy from the beginning of the 19th century through the end of the 20th century, within the broader context of European intellectual history. It works in fields that have been the object of considerable scholarly interest, in addition to other fields that have often been ignored. Members of the department concentrate on the following themes:

(I) Czech Marxist philosophy

(II) Czech non-Marxist philosophy

(III) Czech philosophy and society up to 1948

Within these areas of study a number of specific projects are underway (each involving original research as well as the publication of critical editions of important texts). These projects include:

1) Marxist humanism in Czechoslovakia (Feinberg, Kužel, Landa, Mervart, Tomek).

This project's principal goal is to investigate the character, intellectual context, and impact of Marxist humanism in Czechoslovakia. Special attention is given to the work of Karel Kosík, Robert Kalivoda, Vítězslav Gardavský, Ivan Sviták, and Lubomír Sochor.

2) Philosophy of the dissident movement (Feinberg, Kužel, Landa, Mervart).

This project's principal goal is to map out the intellectual world of participants in the dissident movement. Special attention is given to a number of principle representatives of Czech dissent, including Václav Benda, Václav Havel, Ladislav Hejdánek, and Jiří Němec.

3) Philosophical and social scientific thought in the Czech Lands between 1800 and 1948 (Svoboda, Ševeček, Tomek).

This project's principal goal is to prepare a bibliography of source material on the history of Czech thought (on the basis of work left unfinished by Karel Urianek). The bibliography will contain, among other things, a bibliography of works by Jewish and German authors working in the region, as well as a bibliography of writings from the Russian immigrant community living in Czechoslovakia between 1918 and 1949. Another goal of the project is to systematically investigate the history of Czech Hegelianism, anarchism, Herbartism, and structuralism and their position within the history of ideas in Central Europe.

The department's output in the coming years will include critical editions of source material in the form of anthologies and the selected or collected works of individual authors (Kosík, Gardavský, Sviták, and others); original scholarly studies and reviews in Czech as well as international journals; individual and collective monographs; translations; and bibliographies. The department also organizes conferences, workshops, seminars, and public lectures for scholarly and non-scholarly audiences.

The Department for the Study of Modern Czech Philosophy openly collaborates with researchers, universities, archives, and other research institutions within the Czech Republic and abroad.

24-11-2013 19:08:18

Upcoming events

  • 14.11.

    Filosofické dědictví událostí let 1968 a 1989

    10.00 ve Francouzském institutu, Štěpánská 35, Praha 1.

    Zveme vás:

    International conference on the philosophical legacy of the events of 1968 and 1989 / MEZINÁRODNÍ KONFERENCE O FILOSOFICKÉM DĚDICTVÍ UDÁLOSTÍ LET 1968 A 1989.



    Vstup volný
    Konference je simultánně tlumočena do češtiny.

    On an anonymous poster distributed during the "Velvet Revolution" of 1989, there were two numbers: 89 and 68. These two numbers symbolized two main popular uprisings in Czechoslovakia as well as two promises of alternative forms of socialism. The poster was designed to be read from two different perspectives; a bold-printed number 89 could be turned over and read as 68 as if the autumn 89 were a mere inversion of spring 68. 1989 promised to be a new, more successful 1968.

    1968 was distinctive for its transnational nature, as uprisings spread through such places as Mexico, the United States, China, and Senegal. In Europe, 1968's most striking and symbolically intense moments were France's "Mai 68" and Czechoslovakia's "Prague Spring." Each of these moments was marked by its own kind of hopes and its own attitude toward state power: on the one side (in France), a clear opposition to state power, and on the other (in Czechoslovakia), an effort to create a new coalition between state power and the people.

    The "events of 1968" became a paradigmatic moment for an entire generation of philosophers. Philosophy reflected the events through a new set of philosophical concepts. Words like "the event" and "equality" became prominent in a new philosophical vocabulary. Various thinkers, including Jacques Rancière, directed their attention towards the supernumerary part of every situation and emphasized that struggles over equality are central to questions of politics.

    With the reelection of the general de Gaulle in 1968 and the arrival of the troops of the Warsaw pact in Czechoslovakia, the hopes for a new social order awakened by both movements were progressively foreclosed. Some of these hopes were resurrected during Czechoslovakia's "Velvet Revolution" of 1989, as many participants began to call again for true workers' democracy and a renewed socialism. But the quick privatization of state assets and the liberalization of the market during the 1990s transformed the philosophical significance of 1989 into a primarily negative one, a marking point that was supposed to signal the closing of the historical sequence known as "communism." 1989 became a date symbolizing, for some, the culmination fixed historical processes and end of history; for others, who recalled the hopes that had been foreclosed, it symbolized a strange, incomprehensible catastrophe.

    At the current moment, when the absence of emancipatory politics has opened a space for resurrected forms of xenophobia and nationalism, we see it as vital to rethink the meaning of 1989 in light of 1968. What affirmative aspects of those two events have been forgotten? What was the historical sequence that led to the shattering of the Second World? And ultimately, what did those events bring to philosophical thinking of their time? What new concepts and new philosophical vocabularies were initiated by those events? And how did the visions of France's Mai 1968 differ from similar ideas that emerged during the Prague Spring?

    The goal of the conference: "1968-1989: PARIS – PRAGUE" is to think history along with philosophy, to think philosophy in its historicity, and to think through the emergence of philosophical concepts and truths in historical events. The conference will unite leading historians and cultural scholars working on these dates as well as philosophers investigating the philosophical meaning of historical events. The conference will take place on the occasion of French philosopher Jacques Rancière's first public presentation in Prague. Rancière will deliver a public lecture at the National Gallery in Prague, in addition to a keynote lecture at the conference itself. The conference will unite scholars working on the legacy of Central and Eastern European critical Marxism thought together with scholars focusing on the heritage of 1968 in continental philosophy.[%7B%5C%22surface%5C%22%3A%5C%22page%5C%22%2C%5C%22mechanism%5C%22%3A%5C%22page_upcoming_events_card%5C%22%2C%5C%22extra_data%5C%22%3A%7D]%22%2C%22has_source%22%3Atrue%7D

  • 17.11.

    Evald Ilyenkov and the Battle for Soviet Philosophy

    16:00 v zasedací místnosti Filosofického ústavu AV

    Oddělení pro studium moderní české filosofie

    vás zve na přednášku, kterou přednese

    Prof. David Bakhurst

    (Queen's University at Kingston)

    Punks v. Zombies:

    Evald Ilyenkov and the Battle for Soviet Philosophy

    In May 1954, Evald Ilyenkov and his friend Valentin Korovikov presented a number of "theses on philosophy" to a large audience at Moscow University, where they were both junior lecturers. The subsequent furor pitched Ilyenkov and Korovikov against the Soviet philosophical establishment, controlled by philosophers who had come to prominence at the height of Stalinism. The establishment cast Ilyenkov and Korovikov as "punks", contemptuous of orthodoxy and indifferent to the class character of philosophy. In turn, Ilyenkov, Korovikov and the students they inspired saw the old guard as brain-dead automata, motivated by ideological dictates rather than the deliverances of free thought. The ensuing confrontation, which lasted some eighteen months, had a significant effect, not just on Ilyenkov's own philosophical development, but on an entire generation of Soviet philosophers. While the controversy was long known to have occurred, the text of the theses was lost, and all accounts of events were anecdotal. This situation changed dramatically in 2016, with the Russian publication of fascinating archival research by Ilyenkov's daughter, Elena Ilesh. Drawing on this recent work, this paper tells the full story of the famous theses, examines the provocative conception of philosophy that they defended, and reveals the incident's long-lasting, and ultimately tragic, influence on Ilyenkov's life and work.

    Přednáška proběhne v pátek 17. listopadu 2017 od 16:00 v zasedací místnosti Filosofického ústavu AV

    (Jilská 1, 110 00 Praha 1)

  • 28.11.

    Naše živá a mrtvá minulost – 50 let poté

    9.00 v Akademickém konferenčním centru, Husova 4a, 110 00 Praha 1