On Life and Death: The Conception of Human Being and of the Human Task in Jan Patočka’s Wartime Manuscripts

Jan Puc

The paper provides a survey of Jan Patočka’s philosophical project elaborated in wartime manuscripts, so far unedited. According to Patočka, human beings project their meaningful world due to a fundamental task with respect to which one can either prove oneself or fail. However, the fulfilment of this task is not identical with taking up one’s individuality and finality; rather, Patočka characterizes it as a relationship to an infinite life that grounds every and each individual existence. In order to return to this infinity, a mere „plucking“ out of the conscious life is not sufficient; what is needed is a spiritual transformation that shows the non-objective character of the world, while at the same time maintaining human consciousness.