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Open Theology

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The Phenomenology of Sacrifice in Marion, Patočka and Nancy

Petr Kouba
Published Online: 2019-10-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2019-0027


The phenomenon of sacrifice has been analyzed by Hegel, Kierkegaard, Bataille and many other philosophers. In my paper I intend to examine this phenomenon from the phenomenological point of view as outlined by Jan Patočka, Jean-Luc Nancy and Jean-Luc Marion. With their help I differentiate several kinds of sacrifice (strategic, moral, political, and religious), but above all, I am interested in the limits of sacrifice. Provided that the fields of morality, politics and religion are opened by sacrifice, is there any morality, politics and religion without one? And if so, what is the meaning of morality, politics and religion that are not based on some kind of sacrifice? These questions seem essential in our time, when the meaning of sacrifice is compromised by acts of terrorism. It is relatively easy to denounce terrorism and its propaganda, which uses the concept of martyrdom, as an inauthentic approach to the experience of sacrifice (Marion). But how can we break its spell if we believe that sacrifice brings our existence to completeness (Patočka)? How can we avoid inauthentic forms of sacrifice, if we believe that without sacrifice we must fall into nihilism and indifference?

Keywords: the unsacrificeable; coexistence; terrorism; politics; religion


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About the article

Received: 2019-04-16

Accepted: 2019-09-02

Published Online: 2019-10-05

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 377–385, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2019-0027.

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© 2019 Petr Kouba, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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