Re-thinking Europe in a Post-European Age


Jan Patocka in the early 1970’s

“Europe” is a key concept in Patocka’s writings, extending over his diverse investigations into the history of philosophy, the meaning of the Enlightenment, modernity, modern war, technology, and European history. That philosophy and the idea and task of Europe are intimately tied is a basic thesis which he develops into a challenging perspective. It has broad implications for contemporary debates concerning the philosophy of history, the idea of Europe and its future political shape. Especially promising is the close relation of his thought to civilizational analysis, i.e. to questions of globalization and the current postcolonial debate, since Patocka is maybe one of the first thinkers who fully addressed the problems of what he calls “the Post-European” epoch.
The basic idea is to stress and explore the “after” in ‘Europe after Europe’, and undertake a positive (as opposed to defensive or exculpatory) articulation of Europe. The project is not meant to advocate “Eurocentrism”. Taking seriously the idea of a “Europe” after Europe, it on the contrary intends to open the debate for different cultural perspectives and ask what the idea of Europe might mean in the globalized world of today.
Research will be conducted around three rubrics or aspects: a) Europe as a philosophical idea or principle; b) Europe as political and social reality; c) Europe as heritage and historical responsibility. The three aspects also require the contributions of different academic approaches: philosophy; political science and sociology; historiography.