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Jan Patočka

phenomenology of practice

Ilja Srubar

pp. 311-325

Thinking phenomenologically requires beginning with the phenomenon itself. But what is the phenomenon when we reflect on a philosophical approach to ethics? Speaking empirically, on the one hand, ethics or morality in the sense of a normative order is a feature that occurs in all societies, and thus can be seen as a universal characteristic of the lifeworld. On the other hand, there is no doubt that such normative orders very seldom emerge from philosophical reflection. Ethical systems as formulated by philosophers usually lack the capacity of being transformed into practical rules of life in the natural attitude, and when they are realized, they seldom fulfill the original intentions of their philosophical founders. So the philosophical approaches to ethics—and that includes phenomenology as well—reveal a paradoxical structure. Philosophy is able to formulate ethical principles and it is able to describe the general need for them as well. But as a speculative system of knowledge, philosophy usually does not bridge the gap between the realm of reflection and that of pragmatic life. Even if it calls itself a "practical philosophy," it seldom becomes a practiced one.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-015-9924-5_16

Full citation:

Srubar, I. (2002). Jan Patočka: phenomenology of practice, in Phenomenological approaches to moral philosophy, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 311-325.

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