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The Freedom of Thought: Patočka on Descartes and Husserl

Williams, A. (2018) The Freedom of Thought: Patočka on Descartes and Husserl. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 50 (1). pp. 37-49.

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Patočka highlights the central role of Cartesianism in our tradition of thinking. Yet, today, brain scientists often claim to have overcome Cartesian dualism. In this paper, I argue that the Cartesian conceptions of human nature and sensory perception remain presuppositions of brain science, where perception is largely equated with thinking. Equating perception and thinking means that thinking is a determined process, which leads to an erosion of critique. Critique, and the freedom of thought it entails, is essential to Descartes, Husserl and Patočka. I examine the differences, as well as the relationship, between Descartes method of doubt, Husserl’s phenomenological epochē and Patočka’s universalization of the epochē. I also show how Descartes’, Husserl’s and Patočka’s way into critique present different ways to understand self, things and the world. In conclusion, I suggest that Patočka presents a promising way to critique mechanistic understandings of thinking by rethinking both subject and object.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Publisher: Jackson Publishing and Distribution
Copyright: © 2018 The British Society for Phenomenology
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