The Faith by Václav Havel

Milan Balabán

The president of the CR Václav Havel is considered as a well-known playwright, but he is not seen as a philosopher. But his book Letters to Olga proves that he is also a philosopher of a great range. – In the background of Havel’s meditations are hidden various conceptions of some scientists from the sphere of biology, zoology, etology, ecology etc. – From the theological point of view Havel appears as a humanist sui generis, neither a typical homo religiosus nor a homo agnosticus fanatic believing that there is no God.

In Havel’s book is FAITH formulated as a state of spirit, the spiritual condition of human existence. Faith does not embrace the whole kosmos. It is a human affaire which can not be sought before the start of reflection.– In order not to be imprisoned in the pure being, it is necessary to be related to any horizon which is Being itself; but Havel does not think of it as an indefinite and not differentiated summary of (all) beings. This relationship to an absolute horizon is called faith. Faith supposes that man makes a jump over his status quo. And this is Havel’s understanding of transcendence. It is necessary to realize that faith, in Havel’s conception, is without some image of subject character. Nevertheless Havel feels, that faith based on the ground of the biblical message, cannot be without of categorie of specific personality. For Havel the absolute horizon is some sort a categorical imperative (Kant) and at the same time it is something intimate, something like a friend with whom it is possible to speak in urgent dialogue.It is possible to demonstrate that Havel himself experiences a concrete sense of guilt when facing this horizon. From the absolute horizon it is possible to hear the voice of Being. Havel tries to be in position to receive the „broadcasting“ of the biblical message. Nevertheless it is not possible to claim that he would participate in the experience of Pascal’s God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. – It is very important to realize the negative delimitation of his faith. Non-belief is a loss of sense, resignation, laziness (inertia) of spirit. It is the conviction that the status quo is not to be changed. The opposite kind of the faith is always trying to improve the world, to make it become should be. He believes that it is not necessary to revere God in a cultic manner; it is necessary to respect the force (dynamis) hiding behind the objectification of God. And in this sense it is possible to understand the Havel’s fundamental thesis: The deepest reason of every ethical responsibility is the condition of the absolute horizon.