Jan Sokol (philosopher)

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Jan Sokol
Jan Sokol.jpg
Minister of Education, Youth and Sports
In office
2 January 1998 – 22 July 1998
Prime MinisterJosef Tošovský
Preceded byJiří Gruša
Succeeded byEduard Zeman
Member of Parliament for Prague
In office
7 June 1990 – 4 June 1992
Personal details
Born (1936-04-18) April 18, 1936 (age 84)
Prague, Czechoslovakia
Alma materCharles University

Jan Sokol (born April 18, 1936) is a Czech philosopher, former dissident, politician and translator. He briefly served as Minister of Education, Youth and Sports in 1998 under Prime Minister Josef Tošovský. From 1990 to 1992 he was Member of Parliament for Prague. From 2000 to 2007 he served as the first dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Charles University in Prague. Sokol ran for President of the Czech Republic in the 2003 election but lost to Václav Klaus.

Life and work[edit]

Born in Prague in a Catholic family, he was not allowed to study and worked as a goldsmith, precision mechanic and software developer. Sokol studied mathematics in evening courses, translated numerous books on philosophy and religion to Czech (Lévinas, de Chardin, Gadamer, Eckhart, Foucault, Heidegger, Casper, Landsberg etc.), participated on the Czech Ecumenical Bible translation (1963–1979) and was one of the first signataries of the Charta 77 manifesto for Human rights.

In 1990 he was elected as a Member of the Czechoslovak Parliament, becoming vice-chairman of the Chamber of Nations and spokesman of the strongest faction Civic Forum (OF). In 1993 he obtained an MA in Anthropology, 1996 Ph.D. in Philosophy and since 2000 has been a full professor of philosophy. In 2000 Sokol became the first dean of Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague, vice-dean in 2007 and in the same year was appointed as an Officer of the Légion d'honneur. In the Fall Semester 2008 he was a Senior Fellow at CSWR, Harvard University, lecturing on Religion, Ethics and Human rights.

He has been influenced mostly by his father-in-law Jan Patočka, Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Lévinas and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Works in Philosophical Anthropology, Phenomenology, Anthropology of Religion and of Law and in the theory of Human Rights. Published several books, articles in Czech and in other languages and has delivered many guest lectures in various European countries and in the US, mostly on philosophy, religion, ethics and on European questions.

In a 2020 interview, Sokol stated that he frequently edits Wikipedia in order to reach young people.[1]

Some publications[edit]


In Czech:

  • Cílek - Sokol - Sůvová, Evropa - náš domov (Europe - our home). Albatros, Praha 2018, 132 p. ISBN 978-80-00-05206-9
  • Sokol, J., Naděje na neděli (Hope for Sunday). Praha 2017. 280 p. ISBN 978-80-7429-818-9
  • Sokol, J., Dluh života. Články - eseje - glosy (The debt of life). FHS UK, Praha 2016. 668 p. ISBN 978-80-87398-86-9
  • Sokol, J., Člověk jako osoba (Man as a person). Vyšehrad, Praha 2016. 3rd. ed. 280 p. ISBN 978-80-7429-682-6
  • Sokol, J.: Moc, peníze a právo (Power, money and law). Vyšehrad, Praha 2015. 2nd. ed. 304 p. ISBN 978-80-7429-638-3
  • Sokol, J.: Etika, život, instituce (Ethics, life and institutions). Vyšehrad, Praha 2014, 264 p. ISBN 978-80-7429-223-1
  • Sokol, J.: Malá filosofie člověka (A Small Philosophy of Man). Vysehrad, Prague 2010, 6th. ed. ISBN 978-80-7429-056-5
  • Sokol, J.: Čas a rytmus (Time and Rhythm). Oikumene, Prague 2004, 2nd. ed. ISBN 80-7298-123-4
  • Sokol, J.: Člověk a náboženství (Man and religion). Portal, Prague 2004. ISBN 80-7178-886-4
  • Sokol, J. - Z. Pinc: Antropologie a etika (Anthropology and Ethics). Triton, Prague 2003. ISBN 80-7254-372-5
  • Sokol, J.: Filosofická antropologie (Philosophic Anthropology - Man as a Person). Portal, Prague 2002. ISBN 80-7178-627-6
  • Sokol, J.: Mistr Eckhart a středověká mystika (Master Eckhart and the Medieval Mysticism). Vysehrad, Prague 2008, 3rd. ed. ISBN 978-80-7021-880-8.

In English::

  • Sokol, J.: Ethics, life and institutions. English by N. Cairns a M. Pauzerová. Praha: Karolinum 2016. 258 p. ISBN 978-80-246-3429-6
  • Sokol, J.: Thinking about ordinary things. English by M. Pauzerova. Praha: Karolinum 2013. 236 p. ISBN 978-80-246-2229-3

In German::

  • Sokol, J.: Mensch und Religion : Ursprünge - Wege - Orientierungen. Übers. J. Ostmeyer. Freiburg im Breisgau: Alber Verlag, 2007. 320 S. ISBN 978-3-495-48264-3.
  • Sokol, J.: Philosophie als Verpflichtung. Manutius Heidelberg 2014, 208 S. ISBN 978-3-944512-02-0

In Chinese:

  • Sokol, J.: Xiao zhexue: ruhe sikao putong de shiwu. (A small philosophy). Peking University Press 2018, 249 p. ISBN 978-7-301-29887-9


In English:

  • Europe speaks. Linguistic Diversity and Politics. In: Angelaki: Journal of Theoretical Humanities. Vol. 15/3, 2010, p. 185–193. ISSN 1469-2899 (electronic) 0969-725X (paper)
  • Language and experience. In: Dynamic structure. Language as an open system. Prague : Litteraria pragensia, 2007. p. 27-35. ISBN 80-7308-139-3.
  • What does freedom look like? In: Int. J. Prenatal and perinatal psychology and medicine, Stockholm. Vol. 17, 1/2 (2005), p. 181-187. ISSN 0943-5417
  • The market as a place of rules. In: M. T. Vogt (hsg.), Kulturen in Begegnung. Wroclaw – Görlitz 2004. ISBN 83-7432-018-4. p. 239-243.
  • The Two Faces of Time. In: European Review, Vol. 9, No. 1, p. 11-18 (2001). ISSN 1062-7987.
  • An Address from Elsewhere (The Message of Lévinas). In: Philosophy Today, Chicago, 43/2 (1999), p. 143-150, ISSN 0031-8256.

In German:

  • Nachbarschaft – Nähe und Abgrenzung aus anthropologischer Sicht. In: Theologie der Gegenwart, Erfurt, Vol. 50 (2007)/3, S. 162–171. ISSN 0342-1457
  • Die dreifache Verantwortung der Universität. In R. Gepp et al. (Hsg.), Bildung zwischen Luxus und Notwendigkeit. Wien : LIT-Verlag Wien, 2006. P. 21–27. Schriftenreihe der WA. Bd. 1. ISBN 3-8258-9360-X.
  • Eine Ethik für alle Menschen? In: Schmidinger – Hoff (hsg.), Ethik im Brennpunkt. Tyrolia, Innsbruck 2005, S. 181–200. ISBN 3-7022-2710-5.
  • Was ist Geld? In: Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensethik 5/2 (2004), S. 176–185. ISSN 1439-880X
  • Europa spricht. Sprachenvielfalt und Politik. In: Osteuropa 5-6/2004, Berlin, S. 276–283. ISSN 0030-6428.
  • Was ist Geld? In: Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensethik 5/2 (2004), S. 176–185. ISSN 1439-880X
  • Was ist Geld? In: M. T. Vogt (hsg.), Kulturen in Begegnung. Wroclaw – Görlitz 2004. ISBN 83-7432-018-4. S. 189–198.
  • Der zweifache Schöpfungsbericht als hermeneutischer Schlüssel. In: Pokorný, P. (ed.): Philosophical Hermeneutics and Biblical Exegesis. Tübingen 2002, ISBN 3-16-147894-0., S. 238–244.
  • Leben als Bewegung. Jan Patočka und die Philosophie der Erziehung. In: Jahrbuch fuer Bildungs- und Erziehungsphilosophie, 3 (2000), S. 223–229. Schneider Hohengehren, ISBN 3-89676-328-8.

In French:

  • Jan Patocka et la Charte 77. La nouvelle alternative, Paris, 22, 1, p. 29-34, 5 s. ISSN 0029-4705. 2008.
  • Les regles: conditions de la liberté concrete. In: Philosophie de l'action. Cluj 2005, ISBN 973-7913-43-4, p. 173-181.
  • Novotný, K. – Sokol, J.: Jan Patočka, penseur d'une dissidence philosophique et politique. In: Delsol – Maslowski – Nowicki (eds.): Dissidences. PUF Paris 2005. ISBN 2-13-054334-0. p. 15-34.
  • L'obligation et la vie. In: Pouvoir et vie. Actes UEE de Nice. Cluj : Idea Design & Print, Editura, 2004. p. 117-125. ISBN 973-7913-27-2.
  • D'ou vient l'idée de l'obligation morale? In: Quelle conception de l'homme aujourd'hui? Zuerich 2003. ISBN 3-908544-50-5. p. 119-130.
  • La pensée européenne de Jan Patočka. In: Delsol - Maslowski (ed.): Histoire des idées politiques de l'Europe centrale, p. 496-510. PUF Paris 1998. ISBN 2-13-049071-9

In other languages:

  • Zijn mensenrechten natuurlijk? Filosofie ond Praktijk, Budel (NL) : Damon, 28/2007, 4, p. 43-53, ISSN 0167-2444. 2007.


Further reading[edit]

  • Koumar, J. (2017). "Unnatural as a Category in Sexual Ethics". Človek a Spoločnosť. 20 (3): 60–69.
  • Luxmoore, Jonathan; Babiuch, Jolanta (1992). "Truth prevails: The Catholic contribution to Czech thought and culture". Religion, State and Society. 20: 101–119. doi:10.1080/09637499208431534.
  • Ramet, Sabrina Petra (1991). "The catholic church in Czechoslovakia 1948–1991". Studies in Comparative Communism. 24 (4): 377–393. doi:10.1016/0039-3592(91)90012-U.
  • Tucker, Aviezer; Jakeš, Karel; Kišš, Marian; Kupcová, Ivana; Losman, IVO; Ondračka, David; Outlý, JAN; Stýskalíková, Věra (2000). "From Republican Virtue to Technology of Political Power: Three Episodes of Czech Nonpolitical Politics". Political Science Quarterly. 115 (3): 421–445. doi:10.2307/2658126. JSTOR 2658126.

External links[edit]