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Confronting Totalitarian Minds: Jan Patocka on Politics and Dissidence
by Aspen Brinton
Karolinum Press, 2020
Paper: 978-80-246-4537-7 | eISBN: 978-80-246-4519-3

Jan Patočka was a Czech philosopher who not only lived through the turbulent politics of twentieth-century Central Europe, but he shaped his intellectual contributions in response to that tumult. One of the last students of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, he was a philosophical inspiration to Václav Havel and other dissidents who confronted the Soviet regimes before 1989, as well as being actively involved in authoring and enacting Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia. He died in 1977 from medical complications resulting from interrogations of the secret police, his political involvement cut short by an untimely death.

Confronting Totalitarian Minds examines his legacy along with several contemporary applications of his ideas about dissidence, solidarity, and the human being’s existential confrontation with unjust politics. Aspen Briton puts Patočka’s ideas about dissidence, citizen mobilization, and civic responsibility in conversation with those of notable world historical figures like Mohandas Gandhi, expanding the current possibilities of comparative political theory. In adding a fresh voice to contemporary conversations on transcending injustice, Confronting Totalitarian Minds seeks to educate a wider audience about this philosopher’s continued relevance to political dissidents across the world.

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