The author examines Jan Patocka's claim that T. G. Masaryk's national philosophy proved a failure. National philosophy here means a conception of history's intelligibility and of the place of a national community in it. Masaryk presupposed a morally ordered history gradually realising the ideals of humanity. He guided Czechoslovakia accordingly and, according to Patocka, left it unprepared for the wars of the 20th c. Yet Patocka's conception, though sustaining individual defiance, offers little guidance for a community. Thus neither can be considered simply a failure. One was successful as a programme, the other as a consolation, but neither can serve adequately in an age whose ultimate metaphysical problem concerns the relation of humankind to the world of all life.
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