Epoché and institution: the fundamental tension in Jan Patočka’s phenomenology

Darian Meacham, Francesco Tava*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article examines the relation between two key, but seemingly opposed concepts in Jan Patocka's thought: epoche and the concrete institutional polis. In doing so it attempts to elucidate the inextricable relation between phenomenology and politics in the work of the Czech philosopher, and illustrate more broadly the possibilities for approaching the political from a phenomenological perspective. The article provides a phenomenological interpretation of "care for the soul" as closely linked to Patocka's reformulation of the core phenomenological notion of epoche. It argues that in Patocka's work, the epoche, traditionally conceived as a radical stepping back from the world must be rendered differently, not only as a negative freedom, but as the foundation of positive politics. Thus, the authors argue that there is a thematic and conceptual continuity between Patocka's phenomenological studies and his political work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-326
Number of pages18
JournalStudies in East European Thought
Issue number3
Early online date7 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Husserl
  • Jan Patočka
  • Phenomenology
  • political philosophy
  • ka
  • Politics
  • Epoch&#233
  • Institutions
  • Jan Pato&#269
  • Edmund Husserl

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