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Učník (2016:C4) – o movimento da existência humana

sexta-feira 26 de janeiro de 2024, por Cardoso de Castro


Patočka   aceita a crítica de Heidegger à redução dos seres humanos a coisas que estão objetivamente presentes no mundo. A existência humana não é sustentada por uma substância imutável que persiste através das mudanças nas nossas vidas; ela constitui-se através das oportunidades que encontramos, das possibilidades que actualizamos ou negligenciamos, dos projectos que empreendemos. Patočka alarga as análises de Heidegger, complementando-as com uma ideia aristotélica modificada de movimento. Abandona o substrato aristotélico imutável que persiste através de todas as mudanças, e inverte-o: é através do movimento que a nossa existência emerge. Como Nietzsche   poderia ter dito, não há um fazedor por trás da ação; a ação é tudo. Por isso, Patočka insiste que as possibilidades que somos "fundamentam o [nosso] movimento". É através do movimento da nossa existência que nos tornamos quem somos.


Movement is not   what happens accidentally to some unmoving substratum, but that in which and by which the subject of movement as such is constituted.

To think about human existence, Patočka appropriates and adapts the Aristotelian idea   of movement. His point of departure is Aristotle  ’s insistence that motion is inherent in natural things. As cited above, “Nature is a principle or cause of being moved [. . .] in virtue of itself and not accidentally.”

Patočka accepts Heidegger’s critique of the reduction of humans to things that are objectively present in the world. Human existence is not underwritten by some unchanging substance that persists through changes in our lives; it constitutes itself through opportunities we encounter, possibilities we actualize or neglect, projects we undertake. Patočka extends Heidegger’s analyses by supplementing them with a modified Aristotelian idea of movement. He abandons the Aristotelian unchanging substratum that persists through all changes, and inverts it: it is through movement that our existence emerges. As Nietzsche might have said, there is not a doer behind the deed; the deed is everything. Hence Patočka insists that the possibilities that we are “ground [our] movement.” It is through the movement of our existence that we become who we are.

For Patočka, to think about the movement of existence is also to think about the human body and our relation to others: we are embodied beings. Through the movement of our bodies, we influence things around us, others, and they influence us. Although philosophical tradition   has ignored the body, the body is an important part of who we are.

As noted above, Patočka insists that human existence is essentially historical and situational. His reflections proceed from Heidegger’s explanation of the structure of human existence in Being and Time  . As Patočka explains, Heidegger begins with an analysis of Dasein  , only to abandon it in his later work, leaving the inquiry to be expanded or modified by others.

For Heidegger, we are thrown into the world that was here before we were born and that will be here after we die. We accept the world in which we live and draw meaning from things and people around us. In the first instance, it is through traditional ways of thinking that we draw significance, through which we understand our lives. According to Patočka, this original exposition by Heidegger is predicated on a negative human relation to the world; initially, we are drowned in the world of things, becoming one of them. At the outset, our understanding of life is inauthentic. As Patočka notes, Heidegger’s account is situated “in the dimension of human moral   struggle for one’s own autonomy.” For Heidegger, our original living is inauthentic; we uncritically accept meaning from “them,” from everybody and nobody; the meaning of the public anonym. In this sense, we do not define our own lives: we accept meaning from others without ever questioning it. As Patočka interprets Heidegger, our understanding is debased; we live in decline.

Yet Patočka suggests that to negatively view our original encounter with the world misses the most important aspect of our lives. We are born into the world defenseless; we rely on others to provide our nutrition, to care for us, to teach us how to use those tools—pragmata  —that, for Heidegger, constitute our primary encounter with the world. Heidegger neglects something very important. He overlooks what Patočka calls the first movement of human existence.

Patočka underscores the irreplaceability of others in our lives. Before we can understand the meaning of tools, we need others to teach us about them; “a meaning, once understood, is always already a meaning transmitted by the other, not solipsistically created by myself.” Following from this awareness, Patočka points out that our initial encounter with the world is always located in the past—“the past which is ever inevitably with us”—because we rely on others to help us to “sink the roots,” “to anchor” our existence in the world with them. The home is our place of warmth, where others take care of newcomers. We are helpless; we need others to care for us, to cater to our needs, to protect us, and to teach us how to be a part of the community into which we are born.

Patočka’s second movement of existence is the movement of atomization, the “movement of self-sustenance,” by which we become a part of the world, losing ourselves in things, while using them and other humans for our projects. Patočka formulates this insight by drawing from Arendt  ’s anthropological analysis of the human condition and her concept of labor and work, as well as Heidegger’s understanding of inauthenticity. The second movement of human existence is inauthentic; we concentrate on only the things that surround us, thereby “coming to terms with the reality we handle.” It is the movement of work and struggle with others: we use others for our ends. This movement is defined by utilitarian concerns. We accept public opinion  , never questioning the inherited meaning passed on by the public anonym. Life is geared toward only things, the life of consumerism: carpe diem, enjoy the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future! Its temporal   dimension is the present.

Patočka’s third movement extends Heidegger’s understanding of the leap from the accepted way defined by the public anonym to an authentic way of life. This third movement is freedom from the given. The temporal dimension of this movement is the future. By confronting the possibility that is ours only, the possibility that we die and that no one can take our death from us, nor die for us, we realize that we are finite and that we must take responsibility for the only life we have. Life is not easy, but it is ours; we must be responsible for it. This realization is freedom. We are not only free in relation to the world, to the meaning given to us by others, but also free to become who we want to be, if we are willing to take up the harshness of living. The third movement is the movement of freedom, the proper movement of existence. We realize that we can be responsible; that we can transcend the utilitarian rule of the public anonym; that we can reject being defined by things only. We confront our finitude in order to realize that it is we ourselves who must give meaning to our lives and take responsibility for ourselves, others, and the world. Human life is never given; it has to be wrested from the public anonym’s utilitarianism through the realization that it is our never-ending task to become who we want to be. We also realize the importance of others. We recognize that we have to give to others instead of taking. It is “a task for all of life in its integrity.”

These three movements of existence are not separate, and they are not always actualized by us. But they encompass, for Patočka, the possibility to speak of a human existence that is not reduced to “thingness.”

Ver online : Jan Patocka

[UČNÍK, Ľubica. The crisis of meaning and the life-world: Husserl, Heidegger, Arendt, Patočka. Athens (Ohio): Ohio university press, 2016]