Ricœur and Patočka on the Idea of Europe and its Crisis


This paper undertakes to reconstruct the idea of Europe in the writings of Jan Patočka and Paul Ricœur alongside those of their common inspiration, Husserl. In doing so, it shows that one of the main originalities of this standpoint is to characterize Europe’s crisis as being a spiritual crisis, and its potential overcoming as being rooted in a specific attitude. With this ideal description in mind, the paper proceeds to descriptively assess the present day political situation in the European Union and the several challenges it faces, from the deep divisions between debtors and creditors following the 2008–2009 sovereign debt crisis, to the possibility of unraveling initiated by the Brexit process and the so-called populist threat lingering in different countries. Finally, it contends, following some insights by Patočka, Ricœur and Richard Kearney, that in order to avoid the decay or even death of the E.U. a rekindling of Europe’s ideal is needed, one that is not based in a de facto dominance of some countries over others, or even in a totally homogenous and all-imposing narrative, but rather on mutual understanding through the sharing of stories that can perhaps refocus Europe’s different peoples towards the reconstruction of common goals.

Keywords: Crisis, Europe, Hospitality, Human Rights, Husserl, Kearney, Patočka, Ricœur

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