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A Study on Jan Patočka’s Conceptualization of Spiritual Person

According to the Czech thinker Jan Patočka, who is also known as a historical figure as the spokesperson of the 77 Declaration, philosophy liberates the person by freeing them from the fixed structures and meanings of life. It does this by making the possibilities of the political and the historical problematic. According to him, this problematization of life is understood in terms of three possible attitudes that can be established with society. The first possibility is to clash with society and go to death, as Socrates did. The second is to withdraw from the people, holding on to the hope of a community like Plato. The third possibility is to be a sophist. Starting from the first two possibilities, Patočka thinks that Socrates and Plato problematized life. Based on theoretical questions such as what is life, he calls the person who acts for freedom in social life as a spiritual person. In this respect, since the spiritual person has the horizon of possibilities, he has an aspect that can not be fully encompassed and known. The intellectual person, who stands against the spiritual person, has a cultural act and is a reflection of certain social realities. From this point of view, Patočka considers that spiritual person corresponds to the philosopher; on the other hand, the sophist corresponds to the intellectual person. It is understood from this opinion that he considers Socrates as a philosopher. However, in Plato's texts, it is seen that Socrates is given the role of a wise rather than a philosopher. The purpose of this text is to explain the ambiguity in Patočka's conceptualization of the spiritual person, taking into account the difference between being a wise and a philosopher.


Jan Patocka, Spiritual Person, Intellectual Person, Socrates, Plato, Wise, Philosopher, Sophist.


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