Sacrifice as a political problem
Jan Patočka and sacred sociology
The question arising from this article regards the meaning of sacrifice within the frame of Jan Patočka’s philosophy. Is human sacrifice aimed at reinforcing an institution or state of things as in the case of the Unknown Soldier narrative, or is it rather – as Patočka maintained – an essentially destabilizing deed, which has the power to shatter people’s knowledge and existence? In order to answer this question, I contrast Patočka’s standpoint with those of Émile Durkheim and of the main representatives of the so-called “sacred sociology”: Roger Caillois, Georges Bataille and other members of the Collège de sociologie. In conclusion, I show how Patočka’s approach to the theme of sacrifice helps to understand whether and how a “proper sacrifice” can actually become an instrument of political dissent within human societies.
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