Jan Patočka and Charter 77

Jan Sokol

The strong political engagement of the Czech philosopher in the civic rights movement in 1977 was a big surprise for many, as his rather sceptical judgment on practical politics both in the pre-war and post-war Czechoslovakia was generally well known. The article tries to analyse his opinions on public affairs and on the Polis more precisely.
The result is an important distinction between the practice of democratic policy as a struggle among parties for power on the one hand and the basic responsibility of a philosopher for a good arrangement of public affairs on the other. Out of this permanent and firm conviction stems Patočka‘s idea of „unpolitical politics“, too, an idea which has often been misunderstood, but meant for him an actualization of the Platonic idea of the „care of the soul“.