Universální život a život lidský. K ontologii přírody u Jana Patočky a Maurice Merleau-Pontyho

Martin Rabas


The present article has two objectives. One is to elucidate the philosophical approach presented in the so-called Strahov Systematic Manuscripts of Jan Patočka in terms of consciousness and nature. The other is to compare this philosophical approach with Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s theses on nature, as elaborated in 1956–1961, and to point out some advantages and limitations of both approaches. In our opinion, Patočka’s philosophical approach consists, on the one hand, in a descriptive analysis of human experience, which he understands as a pre-reflective self-relationship pointing towards the consciousness of the world. On the other hand, on the basis of this descriptive analysis Patočka consequently explicates all non-human life, inorganic matter, and finally the whole of nature as life in its own right, the essence of which is also a certain self-relation with a tendency towards consciousness. The article then briefly presents Merleau-Ponty’s theses on nature, and finally compares them with Patočka’s overall theses on nature. The advantage of Patočka’s notion of nature as against Merleau-Ponty’s is that, in Patočka’s view, nature encompasses both the principle of unity and individuality. On the other hand, the advantage of Merleau-Ponty’s understanding of nature as against Patočka’s lies in the consistent interconnectedness of the infinite life of nature and the finite life of individual beings.