Emancipation Between the Nation and Humanity
Interview with Jan Svoboda, by Joseph Grim Feinberg (Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences)
Kontradikce. Časopis pro kritické myšlení III, č. 2 (2019): 141–168
Keywords: T. G. Masaryk, national liberation, humanism, Austrian philosophy, positivism, Marxism
For this volume of Contradictions, in the wake of the widely celebrated but less deeply reflected upon hundredth anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia, Joseph Grim Feinberg sits down with Jan Svoboda from the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences to discuss the work of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the philosopher and sociologist who became the first president and leading intellectual advocate of the Czechoslovak state. In 2017 Svoboda published a monograph on Masaryk’s thought, Masarykův realismus a filosofie pozitivismu (Masaryk’s realism and the philosophy of positivism; Prague, published by Filosofia), and in 2018 he co-edited (with Aleš Prázný) a volume of commentary on Masaryk’s reflections on the so-called “Czech question”: Česká otázka a dnešní doba (The Czech question and the contemporary age, published in Prague by Filosofia; an English edition of the book is currently in preparation). Masaryk is widely referenced in Czech political discourse. For some he is viewed as an idol of modern history; for others as an empty symbol that legitimates the current social order. For many non-Czech readers, meanwhile, this foundational figure in Czech intellectual history remains virtually unknown. In this interview, Svoboda explains the central tenets of Masaryk’s thought and presents a complex picture of a theorist who engaged in productive debates with the influential thinkers of his age, including Karl Marx.
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