The victim is a central theme in Patočka’s late philosophy. Patočka first presented his conception of the victim in a house-seminar in 1973; even then it provoked a discussion which pointed to certain problematic features. This article works with the assumption that it is the unexplicated religious implications of the concept of victim that constitute the core problem. The author attempts to show that, in Patočka’s non-religious interpretation, the victim loses the “two-way” character of the religious concept. It is this character which enables it to fulfill a particular wordly aim, while being directed beyond the human. In Patočka’s conception (at least in its most radical formulation) a victim can only have one determination, and it is not clear how victims can be sacrificed for a worldly aim while going beyond the level of worldly entities. A solution to this problem is sought in Jaspers’ conception of conditionless behaviour; this allows us to distinguish between behaviour itself, which can be part of the economy of wordliness, and its motive, which can, at the same time, transcend the sphere of worldly motivation.
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