Jan Patočka via Jacques Derrida: Phenomenology, Deconstruction and the European Eidos

  • Abstract:
    According to Jan Patočka, the phenomenon of the universum (whole) is first a matter of the thinkability and experience of existence. The history of Europe, for Patočka, denotes the movement towards ‘the care of the soul’. Patočka’s post-Husserlian parallelism with transcendental ideality of world-experience is disclosed as an appeal to ‘truth’, which has already been embodied within the soul of Europe, as the idea of Europe. Patočka’s world-experience was inaugurated both as the phenomenological experience of the world which has already been manifested and as a gnoseological epitome of the ‘unknown’. Patočka’s vision of the European eidos is strictly associated with the figure of the humanity ‘to-come’. In other words, Patočka’s ‘heretical’ cosmos of Europe provides a critical potentia of generating an alternate meaning of European humanity today. Interpretation of the European eidos, the idea of Europe, has become a critical debate in contemporary political philosophy. This paper sets out to read Patočka’s Platonic impulse for the European eidos, by going through Jacques Derrida’s notions of deconstruction, trace and différance. The paper, accordingly, aims to interpret the critical relation between Derrida’s concept of the appeal ‘to-come’ and Patočka’s pursuit of the ‘soul’ for Europe.