Who is a Person? Responsibility and Self-Constitution in Husserl and Patocka

Wednesday, 25 September 2013, 4:00pm - 6:00pm, IWM library
In this seminar, I will explore the question of what, or better, who is a person through the prism of Jan Patocka’s and Edmund Husserl’s ethical thought. Based on the insight that a person does not coincide with any of the roles, or faces, it assumes, I shall inject three guiding ideas from Husserl’s writings on ethics during the 1930s into Patocka’s own form of existential humanism: the idea that an ethical life requires the continual self-performance of an ethical reduction; the idea that to be a person entails an ethical striving for increased self-constitution and self-renewal; the idea that an ethical life is formed around a solicitude towards others, a responsiveness towards ethical values and responsibility towards “the Good.” My comments will conclude with a set of brief remarks on the ultimate parting of philosophical ways between Husserl and Patocka, despite a certain common philosophical cause, as well as on what is philosophically at stake with such a divergence.

Nicolas de Warren is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Leuven, Belgium; He stayed at the IWM as part of the project „Polemical Christianity: Jan Patočka’s Concept of Religion and the Crisis of Modernity“ supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), grant no. P22828-G15.