James Dodd

Fellowships

Fellowships
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This project seeks to illuminate what it meant to do philosophy in the years between 1945 and 1989, by way of a comparative study of three thinkers who came to prominence during the Cold War: Jan Patočka, Hannah Arendt, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Each represents a profound engagement with salient questions of the human condition, including the problems of politics, historical existence, and the question of Europe after the catastrophes of war and holocaust. Each also grappled with the question of what it means to do philosophy, and in a fashion intimately woven with a reflection on the contemporary situation of Europe and the world. The guiding thesis of this project is that it is impossible to understand these three thinkers without reference to the historical, political, and spiritual conditions of the Cold War, and vice versa: that it is impossible to understand the human condition of the Cold War without reference to the philosophies that emerged from it.

This Fellowship is associated to the Jan Patočka Research Program.

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My project explores the impact of the Great War, as both experience and historical event, on phenomenology and phenomenological philosophy. Tracing the intellectual biographies of a selection of key figures in the movement from its inception after the publication of Edmund Husserl’s Logical Investigations (1900) to its maturation in the years after the Second World War, I argue that the internalization of the problem of war is an essential moment in the development of the phenomenological tradition, and that it was a central factor as much in play for its founders as it is for its current practitioners.

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My project approaches Patočka’s reflections on Christianity and religion from the perspective of two groups of questions. The first has to do with the general problem of the relation between phenomenological philosophy and religion: to what extent does Patočka’s understanding of phenomenology as a critical philosophical form of existence, one that he sees at the core of European spiritual life, frame his understanding of Christianity? The second has to do with the specific problem of Nietzsche: what for Patočka is left of or for Christianity, in the wake of Nietzsche’s critique? The aim of my project is to develop a dialogue with Patočka’s thinking in the context of contemporary debates on phenomenology and theology, as well as the philosophy of history.

The Jan Patocka Research Program and Archive at the IWM have an ongoing collaboration with the Jan Patocka Archive in Prague. As part of this collaboration, James Dodd spent some time at the IWM during 2014 to participate in network meeting and work on shared projects.

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Europe, Critique, and Religious Life. Jan Patočka’s Reflections on Christianity - My project approaches Patocka’s reflections on Christianity and religion from the perspective of two groups of questions. The first has to do with the general problem of the relation between phenomenological philosophy and religion: to what extent does Patocka’s understanding of phenomenology as a critical philosophical form of existence, one that he sees at the core of European spiritual life, frame his understanding of Christianity? The second has to do with the specific problem of Nietzsche: what for Patocka is left of or for Christianity, in the wake of Nietzsche’s critique? The aim of my project is to develop a dialogue with Patocka’s thinking in the context of contemporary debates on phenomenology and theology, as well as the philosophy of history.

The Jan Patocka Research Program and Archive at the IWM have an ongoing collaboration with the Jan Patocka Archive in Prague. As part of this collaboration, James Dodd spent some time at the IWM during 2013 to participate in network meetings and work on shared projects.