ONLINE: Ivan Landa: Dialogue between Marxismand Christianity in Prague of 1960s

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In my talk, I am going to tackle – historically and systematically – the topic of Marxist-Christian dialogue that was taking place intensively in East Central Europe during 1960s, confining myself solely to the situation in Czechoslovakia. I shall briefly sketch the main themes at stake in the dialogue, such as transcendence, theism and atheism, freedom, subjectivity, time and eternity, human practice etc., mentioning prominent figures from both Marxist and Christian camp, who actively participated in that dialogue (e.g. Vítězslav Gardavský, Ladislav Hejdánek, Milan Machovec, Jiří Němec and Milan Průcha).Challenging the dominant narrative, I argue that the dialogue cannot be perceived as a mere result of some transfer of ideas, concepts, or problem complexes, and should not be therefore interpreted as an imported intellectual phenomenon. Firstly, I’ll introduce a unique tradition of Platonist thought that was ripening in Czech Lands over the centuries, since I assume such a tradition resonated in a dialogue. Various philosophical theories unanimously stressed that the Idea is not real and objective, but rather non-real: “which is not, but has to be” (Emanuel Rádl), a sheer negativity of the chórismos(Jan Patočka), or as non-objective, normative appeal (Ladislav Hejdánek). Further, I’ll demonstrate how such emancipatory Platonism was employed both in interpretation of Marx’s practical Materialism, which he promoted in Theses of Feuerbachand in making sense of Marx’s critique of the religion as “opium of the people”. Such interpretations resulted in a thought-provoking understanding of social critique, basically derived – by Vítězslav Gardavský or Ladislav Hejdánek – from the reassessment of the Old Testament’s idea of the prophecy. Finally, I’ll concentrate on the (dis)agreements between Christians and Marxists atheism, focusing on the toposof the “Death-of-God”, coming back to the idea of the emancipatory Platonism that stresses non-being, non-reality or non-objectivity of the Idea.

Ivan Landa: Researcher and head of the Department for the Study of Modern Czech Philosophy at the Institute for Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic