Karel Kosík

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Karel Kosík
Born 26 June 1926
Prague, Czechoslovakia
Died 21 February 2003(2003-02-21) (aged 76)
Prague, Czech Republic
Alma mater Charles University in Prague
Leningrad University (no degree)
Moscow State University (no degree)
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Continental philosophy
Western Marxism[1]
Main interests
Social philosophy, politics, ethics, aesthetics
Notable ideas
The Pseudo-concrete[2]

Karel Kosík (26 June 1926 – 21 February 2003) was a Czech Neomarxist philosopher. In his most famous philosophical work, Dialectics of the Concrete (1963), Kosík presents an original synthesis of Martin Heidegger's version of phenomenology and the ideas of Young Marx. His later essays can be called a sharp critique of the modern society from a leftist position.


Karel Kosík was born on 26 June 1926 in Prague.

From 1 September 1943 until his arrest by the Gestapo on 17 November 1944, he was a member of an illegal anti-nazi communist resistance group Předvoj (The Vanguard) and a chief editor of an illegal journal Boj mladých (The Fight of Youth). After his seizure Kosík was accused of high treason and repeatedly questioned. From 30 January to 5 May 1945 he was imprisoned in Theresienstadt concentration camp.

From 1945 to 1947, Kosík studied philosophy and sociology at the Charles University in Prague. In the years 1947–1949, he also attended courses at the Leningrad University and the Moscow State University in the USSR. He graduated in 1950 in Prague at the Charles University. In this part of his life he met his future wife Růžena Grebeníčková (later laureate of Herder prize), from this marriage came three children (Antonín Kosík, Irena Kosíková and Štěpán Kosík). In 1963, he published his opus Dialectics of the Concrete, a re-working of Marxian categories in terms of humanist phenomenology, which earned him an international reputation as a leading philosopher of humanist Marxism. During the "Prague Spring" of 1968, Kosík became a leading voice for democratic socialism (a distinction he shared with Ivan Sviták, Czechoslovakia's other prominent Marxist humanist). This political engagement led to Kosík's dismissal from university work in 1970, after the period of democratization had ended. He remained unemployed until 1990, when he returned to public intellectual life as one of Central Europe's few prominent leftist social critics.


  • Čeští radikální demokraté, Praha 1958
  • Dialektika konkrétního (Dialectics of the Concrete), Praha 1963, 1965, 1966
  • Moral und Gesellschaft, Frankfurt am Mein 1968, 1970
  • La nostra crisi attuale, Roma 1969, Barcelona 1971
  • Století Markéty Samsové, 1993, 1995
  • Jinoch a smrt, Praha 1995
  • Předpotopní úvahy, Praha 1997
  • Poslední eseje, Praha 2004


Major works
  • Česká radikální demokracie (Czech Radical Democracy), Praha 1958
  • Dialektika konkrétního (Dialectics of the Concrete), Praha 1963, 1965, 1966
    • English translation: Dialectics of the Concrete, Dordrecht 1976
    • French translation: La Dialectique du concret, Paris 1970, 1978
    • Italian translation: Dialettica del concreto, Milano 1965, 1972
    • Japanese translation: Tokio 1977
    • German translation: Die Dialektik des Konkreten, Frankfurt am Main 1967, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1976
    • Spanish translation: Dialéctica de lo concreto, México 1967
    • Catalan translation: Dialèctica del concret, Barcelona 1970
    • Portuguese translation: Dialética do Concreto, Rio de Janeiro 1969, 1976, 1985, Lisboa 1977
    • Greek translation: Η διαλεκτική του συγκεκριμένου, Αθήνα 1975
    • Slovenian translation: Dialektika konkretnega, Ljubljana 1967
    • Serbo-Croatian translation: Dijalektika konkretnog, Beograd 1967
    • Swedish translation: Det konkretas dialektik, 1979
    • Persian translation: دیالکتیک انضمامی بودن، مترجم: دکتر محمود عبادیان، نشر قطره، 1386
  • Moral und Gesellschaft (Morality and Society), Frankfurt am Mein 1968, 1970
  • La nostra crisi attuale (Our Present Crisis), Roma 1969, Barcelona 1971
  • Století Markéty Samsové (Marketa Samsova's Century), 1993, 1995
  • Jinoch a smrt (Young Man and Death), Praha 1995
    • German translation: "Der Jüngling und der Tod", in: Tschechische Philosophen im 20. Jahrhundert, ed. by. L. Hagedorn, Stuttgart: dva 2002, 349-416
  • Předpotopní úvahy (Antediluvian Thoughts), Praha 1997
  • Poslední eseje (Last Essays), Praha 2004
  • "Dialectic of the Concrete Totality". Telos 2 (Fall 1968). New York: Telos Press.


  1. ^ Martin Jay, Marxism and Totality: The Adventures of a Concept from Lukács to Habermas, University of California Press, 1984, p. 5: "Although such thinkers as the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski (during his Marxist Humanist phase) and the Czech philosopher Karel Kosík were certainly important in their own right, their work was nonetheless built upon the earlier thought of Western Marxists, as was that of the Yugoslav theoreticians published in the journal Praxis."
  2. ^ Kosík, Karel. Dialectics of the Concrete, trans. Karel Kovanda and James Schmidt (Boston and Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1976).

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