Nicolas de Warren


Professor, Center for Phenomenology and Continental Philosophy, Husserl Archives at the Catholic University Leuven

(February 2015)


Malraux’s Quest: Fraternity and the Death of Humanism in the First World War

Lecture on 19th February



Previous stays at the IWM:
September 2013, Guest
September 2012, Guest
2011, Guest


Former Project:

Homecoming. Jan Patocka and the First World War

Jan Patocka’s Heretical Essays can be seen as one of the last attempts to divine metaphysical meaning from the war to end all wars. Based on this work, my research aims to develop a framework for a more comprehensive investigation of the impact of the First World War on 20th-century philosophy. I shall be particularly interested in understanding the Heretical Essays in a comparative context with Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition, the writings of Ernst Jünger, Teilhard de Chardin, Heidegger, and Carl Schmitt, as well as the literature of ‘Fronterlebnis’ during the 1920s and 1930s. I shall also look at the genealogy of the relationship between war and experience in 19th-century German thought as well as the relationship between Patocka’s philosophical vision of Europe and his implicit philosophy of religion.

Nicolas de Warren 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.


Malraux’s Quest: Fraternity and the Death of Humanism in the First World War

In this lecture, centered around André Malraux's evocative statement "I am searching for that crucial region of the soul where absolute evil hangs in balance against fraternity," I explore different facets of the destruction of fraternity in the First World War. Through a set of poetical, political, and philosophical meditations on the conflict between fraternity and evil, I propose a conjecture on the challenge of Manichaeism for the 20th century, and beyond.
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The Elder Zosima’s Secret: Patocka and Monotheism

In one of Jan Patocka’s last writings (1976), an essay on the philosophy of religion in Masaryk, Patocka remarks that the lessons from the life of the Elder Zosima in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov may provide essential clues for responding to the contemporary crisis of Christianity. What is striking about Patocka’s pronouncement is his consideration that this central episode in Dostoyevsky’s novel promises a renewed consideration of religion (Christianity) and our relation to “being” more radical than Heidegger’s quest for the meaning of “being” and his critique of its metaphysical tradition.
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