Chapter 4 Modernism and Transcendence from the Perspective of Masaryk’s Realism

In: Recalling Masaryk’s The Czech Question
Jan Svoboda
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According to Svoboda, Masaryk’s realism is a modernist concept which assumes a rationally-grounded conviction that the modern, educated and critically reflective, person finds themselves in deep existential crisis. The reason for this crisis is the loss of belief in transcendence – in that which goes beyond the individual and provides a guarantee of the universal meaning of life. Masaryk’s realist project thus intentionally hinges on two levels of transcendence, the level that dynamically creates the ‘real’ consciousness of our existence, and the level of our reflective relationship to the objective world, which is the domain of the exact sciences. Masaryk understands both of these levels in a metaphysical sense. On the one hand, he understands metaphysics as the ultimate framework of all sciences, on the other hand, metaphysics plays an important role in his concept of psychology. This is not narrowly conceived as a special discipline, but rather justifiably acknowledges its metaphysical dimension precisely in connection with his conception of ethics and, as a necessarily epistemological consequence, also of religion. Masaryk’s realist conception of ‘scientific’ metaphysics thus presents itself as an admirable attempt to bridge the two separately perceived areas to which a person fundamentally relates in reality as a conscious subject: the ‘fallibility’ of science and the ‘certainty’ of faith. Of equal significance, it reflects Masaryk’s lifelong effort to achieve the closest possible connection between theory and practice, which in the mid-1890s he characterised as ‘political’ realism, and which on the eve of World War I resulted in his activist-oriented anthropology.

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Recalling Masaryk’s The Czech Question

Humanity and Politics on the Threshold of the Twenty-First Century

Series:  Value Inquiry Book Series, Volume: 381 and  Central European Value Studies, Volume: 381


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