This text presents an assessment of the literary work of Karel Čapek from a perspective that has not yet been discussed. It focuses on analysing Čapek’s works from the viewpoint of their possible inspiration by bioethical issues. Čapek’s philosophy and the powerful ethical charge of his texts tend to be associated with his interest in pragmatism, a subject to which he, however, took an individual and critical approach. One of the most important categories of his way of thinking is life. In his prose works and plays we therefore see motifs that may be associated with the thematic definition of bioethics. These are questions concerning the value and quality of human life, issues concerning the dehumanizing impact of science and technology, as well as reflections upon the moral dimension of man’s relationship to nature and also to the relationship between people and animals. Čapek’s work may therefore provide inspiration from the perspective of the history of the gradual formation of the bioethical point of view.
The paper examines the ethical dimensions of Michel Houellebecq’s works of fiction. On the basis of keen diagnostics of contemporary Western culture, this world-renowned French writer predicts the destructive social consequences of ultra-liberalism and enters into an argument with transhumanist theories. His writings, depicting the misery of contemporary man and imagining a new human species enhanced by technologies, show that neither the so-called neo-humans nor the “last man” of liberal democracies can reach happiness. The latter can only be achieved if humanist values, shared by previous generations and promoted by the great 19th-century authors (Balzac, Flaubert), are reinvented.
The paper focuses on the ethical teachings of Classical Antiquity philosophers in the poetry of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, especially on the parallels between the author’s work and the Cynics and the Stoics. The syncretic nature of Gregory’s work, reflected in the assimilation of the teachings of ancient philosophical schools and the then expanding Christianity creates conditions for the explanation and highlighting of basic human virtues. Gregory of Nazianzus’ legacy also draws on the teachings of such philosophers as Plato and Aristotle, but he always approaches them from the perspective of a strictly Christian worldview. He understands philosophy as a moral underlying basis from which one can draw inspiration for a virtuous and happy life. Gregory thinks that philosophy cannot harm Christians in the pursuit of a virtuous life. Nevertheless, Christian teachings and God are the highest authority. They stand above all philosophical schools or ideas advanced by specific philosophers. Gregory’s moral poetry thus directs his readers, if they are to deserve eternal life, to follow the commandments, which is possible only if one lives a practical and virtuous life.
The work of Hugolín Gavlovič belongs is part of the most influential literary and didactic heritage of 18th century literature in the region of contemporary Slovakia. Even though Gavlovič was not a systematic moral philosopher, the role and importance of ethics in his literary work is significant. He contributed greatly to the debate on moral education, which was (in the context of that time) linked to the fulfilment of God's will and to the accomplishment of a good life. In his extensive poetic work Valaská škola mravúv stodola [Shepherd´s school of morals], the author not only formulated moral norms but, inspired by classical Greek philosophy, he also defined them in the wider ethical context of virtue, morals, and human nature. In this study, the historical context of his work, marked by the literary and cultural transition to the Enlightenment era, will be presented, concepts related to the understanding of good life (as a goal of moral education) will be identified, and the possibility for further philosophical and ethical analysis of Gavlovič’s work will be offered (through a reflexion of Aristotle’s thoughts referred to in Valaská škola). Overall, the paper offers an original point of view on how to interpret the thoughts of Hugolín Gavlovič from the perspective of ethics. This has been, despite the impact of his work, rather omitted.
The paper explores the philosophical treatment of sacrifice in four of Jiří Menzel’s films of the 1960’s, Closely observed trains (Ostře sledované vlaky), Capricious summer (Rozmarné léto), Mr Balthazar’s death (Smrt pana Baltazara), his short film contribution to the anthology film of the New Wave, Pearls of the deep (Perličky na dně), and Larks on a string (Skřivánci na niti). The paper argues that Menzel problematizes romanticized versions of messianic sacrifice as they all too easily disregard the moral significance of mundane relations. By analysing the treatment of sacrifice in each of these films, the paper makes a case for the significance of Menzel’s treatment of sacrifice for current philosophical debates.
When we read The Trial and In the Penal Colony together, we read about the logic of law, crime, punishment, and guilt. Of course, we cannot know the law, or, as Kafka writes, we cannot enter the law. I interpret the idea in this way: the law opens a gate to the truth. Alas, no one can enter the law, or come to know the truth, as Kafka says. The consequences are devastating: one cannot know the name of one’s own crime, which is to say guilt is eternal and permanent; nothing can absolve us. Only one solution exists. Josef K. in The Trial should have committed suicide like the Officer in “Penal Colony.” That is to say, perhaps, that you always are your own judge and executioner. Guilt cannot be doubted and thus, you are doomed. Both narratives are cruel and ruthless in their own way in their moral pessimism.
In Kafka’s literary world, several animals emerge; they belong to an odd and enigmatic fauna, on the edge between violence and artistry but also between stillness and music; according to the writer, scripture represents both the fault and the punishment waiting for the solitary artist. Animals, especially depicted as hordes of small mice or other rodents, also hint to the heterogeneous structure of the Self, who doesn’t manage to keep under control all the divisions in his ambiguous dentity. Through opposition between the point of view of the subject, who considers his own isolation as indispensable to carry on writing, and the multitude of escaping small animals, Kafka also expresses and experiences his own impossibility of “description” (Beschreibung). In the meantime, Kafka’s animals embody the creatural and unconscious sources of imagination the writer draws from that constantly escape his own control and willingness, pushing forwards into an unknown and inhospitable region, towards the wasteland, the eternal winter that can be identified with scripture. In writing, a deep metamorphosis of the Self takes place. Kafka shares this belief with one of the writers he most admired and considered his master, Gustave Flaubert, who firmly thought that, while writing, one loses his previous identity, becoming someone else, even assuming the appearence of the “otherness”. We can state that Kafka’s imagery of animals takes to the extreme the paradox and ambiguity the idea of writing relies on, also reproducing, especially, in his hybrid creatures, the feeling of uncertainty and lack of safety of the assimilated Jewish artist.
The author studies selected fundamental literary records from Great Moravia of the 9th century (The rules of the holy fathers [Zapovědi svatych otcov], Judicial law for laymen [Zakon sudnyj ljudem], Nomocanon [Nomokanon], Adhortation to rulers [Vladykam zemle Božie slovo velit]) presumably compiled, translated or created by Constantine (Cyril) and Methodius, the Thessaloniki brothers. In the context of defining early and medieval Christian ethics, the author concluded that the texts in question contain elements of the Christian code of ethics, by means of which Constantine (Cyril) and Methodius, following the model of the Byzantine Emperors Leo III and Constantine V, wished to form the social morality of Great Moravia. Based on this, the author holds the opinion that the history of Christian ethics in Moravia, Slovakia and Bohemia goes as far back as the activities of Constantine (Cyril) and Methodius and the period of Great Moravia.
The article is devoted to the theme of the moral condition during the Black Death epidemic in Florence within Boccaccio’s group of young people in his Decameron. The disease in the region of Florence caused many existential and moral tragedies. A group of young people transferred the joy of life and moral principles to the gardens outside the city of the disease. They describe different moral and philosophical thoughts in their songs at the end of each day.2 These songs represent ten parts of nature and form the basis on which the allegorical character of the works is further developed. They are also carriers of the laws of nature and natural wisdom.
In the article, the author analyses the impact of the tragic experiences during the Holocaust on contemporary ethics and literature. Such considerations coincide with yet another anniversary – the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, celebrated globally as Holocaust Memorial Day. The article also considers the reasons why testimonies from Holocaust survivors have not had an adequate impact on society. The author argues that trivialisation of the Holocaust tragedy occurred in modern science and it is related to the fact that traditional ethics has not been able to convincingly explain why the Holocaust occurred in the most civilised nations. Thus, Holocaust testimonies should be constantly popularised in society for the good of all mankind. Literature seems to be the best form of mass media for this task and it is also a recorder of human emotions. According to the author, it is essential that humanity is protected this way against the possibility of a similar tragedy occurring in the future.