Patočka and the “Disenchantment of the World” Linking Patočka to the Contemporary Discussions of Religion and Secularism

JVF Conference Papers

This working paper deals with the term “disenchantment of the world” which was originally introduced by the German sociologist Max Weber (1964–1920) in the lecture Science as a Vocation (1917).

More precisely, my main aim is to ask whether the contemporary discussions on religion, modernity, and secularisation developed around Weber’s term could be linked to the work of the Czech philosopher Jan Patočka (1907–1977). In order to achieve this aim, the paper outlines three main goals: (I.) to introduce Weber’s original formulation of the problem of “disenchantment of the world” as well as its contemporary reading within the discussions on “secularisation”; (II.) to discuss the existing philosophical interpretations of Patočka’s concept of religion, with an emphasis on the role of Christianity, and (III.) to outline my own reading of Patočka’s work; pointing out the links to classical sociology, which can be most notably found in his writing Supercivilization and Its Inner Conflict (1950s) and subsequently followed in the Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History (1975).

In this way, the paper outlines an interpretation of Patočka’s work which highlights its potential to contribute to the contemporary reception of the distinction between “disenchantment”, on the one hand, and “secularisation”, on the other.

Download pdf