CHAPTER V


CZECH PROTESTANTISM AND
AND PHILOSOPHY



In their works many authors related to Protestantism responded critically to positivism. However, in order to write about their attempt at a "complete" philosophy, i.e., at overcoming the boundaries given by positivism, we must return once again to T.G. Masaryk.

T.G. Masaryk is in many respects--in politics, sociology and philosophy--the point of entry to Czech thinking of the twentieth century. His fate, however, was very incongruous: though considered virtually the official ideologist of the first republic, he had no successor. There were several "Masarykists", but no true "disciple". His influence therefore must be distinguished from mere verbal professions, and true ideological association will have to be determined at a deeper level and in greater detail. Let us try to do so on the basis of an outline of philosophy connected with Czech Protestantism, i.e., with philosophy as represented by Emanuel Rádl, Jan Kozák and J.L. Hromádka. Masaryk converted to Protestantism, Rádl and Kozák tried to keep pace with him; Hromádka wrote a special monograph about Masaryk. Rádl was one of the few successors of Masaryk; Hromádka closely cooperated with Rádl, etc. Were these only personal ties and relationships, or do they reflect deeper ideological and historical associations?

Before we try to answer that question, any misunderstanding stemming from the title of the present chapter must be eliminated. Protestantism has no uniform philosophy, so neither has Czech Protestantism. The title is not meant to divide philosophers according to their religion, but reflects the fact that representatives of one important line of Czech philosophy and their Weltanschauung belonged to Protestantism. This fact deserves attention in a country whose history contains Protestant traditions which, in their time, had world-wide importance and which went through certain transformations in the twentieth century in close connection with the intellectual stream of world Protestantism. An outline of the road from Masaryk's "critical" religion to the theology of Hromádka and the analysis of some philosophical aspects of this process will contribute to a determination of the inner developmental logic of Czech thinking in the 20th century.

T.G. MASARYK (1850-1937)

As has already been mentioned, the work of T.G. Masaryk, formulated in its basic outline in the period of the crisis of Czech society at the turn of the century, and developed in the period before World War I, is of key importance in the formation of Czech philosophy of the twentieth century. Masaryk's reformist concept of political and social problems, the fact that he defended the priority of a "revolution of heads and hearts", his attitude to the social crisis as a crisis of man and his Weltanschauung--all this could not but be close to the attitudes of Czech Protestantism at that time. In this way Protestantism succumbed to the general influence of Masaryk. The social pattern of the members of the Protestant churches, being mostly the middle classes, created a favorable ground for the Masaryk's influence on this milieu.(49)

Some of Masaryk's personal ties with Protestantism played a role. In his youth, Masaryk was an ardent Catholic brought up under the influence of Catholic priests; however, he solved his religious doubts by converting to evangelism. This decision had also been motivated by his discussions with the evangelical clergyman, Ferdinand Císa, and his acquaintance with Protestants and with Protestant theology during his studies in Leipzig. Quite obvious, too, is the influence of Masaryk's wife, an American Unitarian. Nevertheless, in order to relate the philosophy of Masaryk to the philosophy of Czech Protestantism, it will be necessary to specify more closely its ideological content and to determine which aspects of Masaryk's thinking are demonstrably associated with the ideas of Protestantism or in which respect these affected him.

This can be said particularly of Masaryk's philosophy of history which became an ideological foundation for his reformist political concept and which, at the same time, fell within the ambit of the Protestant view of the history of modern times. In Masaryk's basic historical and philosophical pairs (Protestantism - Catholicism, reformation - revolution, democracy - theocracy), Protestantism is always evaluated as an intellectual movement which stands on the side of a modern "permanently reforming democracy". Masaryk derived his modern thought, with its philosophy, politics and even capitalist economy, from the Reformation and from the evolution of Protestantism in the West. His preference for Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian literature (arising from a predominantly Protestant milieu) and his sympathy for "Protestant" (i.e., in Masaryk's terminology, English and Reformist) socialism also reflect, of course, a Protestant influence.

Masaryk's philosophy of Czech history was also favorable to Protestantism; it put in the fore the reformist legacy and, in association with this, emphasized the humanitarian and religious-ethical meaning of Czech history. From this he derived conclusions about the need for peaceful reformist tactics as corresponding to Czech traditions. In his concept of Czech history he related, for example, to Jan Karafiát(50), although in many ways he did not agree with this representative of the older generation of Czech Protestantism. For these reasons--and also due to his critical attitude toward Catholic clericalism--he often supported the evangelicals as early as before World War I and during the period of the First Republic. Many evangelicals saw themselves as enabling the gradual realization of the heritage of Czech history as seen through Protestant eyes.

Masaryk's own religious-philosophical attitudes concur importantly with the Protestant Weltanschauung: pronounced religious individualism which drew him to Protestantism from the beginning, the combination of rational criticism and analysis rejecting the rationalism of the eighteenth century, aversion to forms of obvious mysticism, emphasis upon the vital and practical aspect of religion, and ardent rejection to outer manifestations of piety.

Masaryk never felt any firm spiritual bonds with Protestantism; he criticized sharply the practice and ideology of Protestant churches, their inability to cope with the social, political and cultural problems of that time; he accused the Protestant church of political clericalism and institutionalized religion: and he did not consider the Protestantism of that time to be a satisfactory form of religion. This, however, does not exclude Masaryk from Protestantism; similar criticism could be heard from among such Protestant theologians as Kierkegaard, Kutter, Ragaz, etc.--very frequently their criticism was sharper and more dramatic. Much more important was the way Masaryk's approach derived from his thinking, and here lie the main differences between his thought and Protestantism.

In his justification of the central role of religion in the life of man and society, Masaryk applied, in the first place, psychological argumentation. What is a transcendent matter in Protestantism (God as a being beyond world and man, revealed to mankind through the Bible) is for Masaryk a universal human fact. Religious faith is not a gift of the grace of God, but a psychic need of all people, an attribute of man's nature. Without religion man is dehumanized; a person with a well-developed humane character is thereby religious. Modern man with a disrupted Weltanschauung (i.e., a disharmony of reason, sentiment amd will) should be cured by enabling religion to penetrate all the components of his mentality. Religion should help human reason to interpret the world theistically; theism should give to empirical facts their final sense or "intention".

Further, religion should be a strong emotional experience--enthusiasm, faith and love bear the seal of religion. Finally, religion must pass also into the sphere of the will to establish life "sub specie aeternitatis". From this basic "anthropological" function Masaryk derived also the social function of religion: to harmonize relationships among people, among the classes. From this point of view he considered religion to be a solid component of the earlier historical development, a permanent part of culture.

At the same time Masaryk called for a "new religion, a religion that would be in accord with modern science", a "critical" and "unrevealed" religion. Some of these features of Masaryk's concept of religion placed him outside the stream of undeniably Protestant thinking expressed by Rádl and particularly by Hromádka. However, if we abandon the sphere of mere abstract confrontation, these differences are not great enough to exclude Masaryk from the stream which we called the philosophy of Czech Protestantism.(51) Masaryk's direct effect on Czech Protestantism appeared in the religious-philosophical views of two significant representatives of Czech philosophy of the period between the two World Wars: Emanuel Rádl and J.B. Kozák.

EMANUEL RÁDL (1873-1942)

The ideological connection between Masaryk and the philosophy of Czech Protestantism was reflected most evidently in the philosophy of E. Rádl both in the way he agreed and in the way he differed from Masaryk.(52) If Masaryk became predominantly a practical politician, then Rádl adhered primarily to philosophy and religion, even though he was also very active in public political and cultural life. Rádl published many pamphlets on various subjects and in this way he became convinced also that true philosophy, the love of truth, is always an effort for the victory of truth, and that the philosopher must be prepared for a responsible role in society.

The differences between Masaryk and Rádl reflected not only different personal inclinations and preferences, but also differences between the pre-war and the post-war atmospheres. Rádl represented an attempt at a specific application of Masaryk's principles, suggestions and methods for the solution of matters associated with the new problems and crises of the Czech society between the two world wars, i.e., the world economic crisis, national conflicts, and the increasing threat of Fascism leading to the fall of Czechoslovakia. When we emphasize Rádl's relation to Masaryk, naturally we do not want to deny other influences on Rádl. There were, for instance, the vitalism of Hans Driesch (Rádl began as a biologist);(53) the complete disillusion with positivistic science and philosophy, and criticism of mechanism and naturalistic physicalism which culminated in Rádl's criticism of modern science as identified with its conception in Galileo and Descartes; the pragmatism of J. Dewey (accepted with reservations); and various forms of religious philosophy (including the philosophy of Hromádka). These various forces acted in different degrees at various stages of Rádl's life and philosophical development. It may be stated that after the first impulse toward philosophical reflection which Rádl derived from the natural sciences and from late nineteenth century classical philosophical literature, it was Masaryk's realism that had the strongest

effect(54).

Rádl joined Masaryk on the fundamental issues of his stand against the positivism of the nineteenth century. What is the relationship between one's personal convictions on which one shapes one's practical conduct, and the suprapersonal, objective and absolute world? Is philosophy a personal determination or is it an objective knowledge of the objective world? Whereas Masaryk finally resolved the tension between "subjectivism" and "objectivism" in favor of a "moderate" subjectivism-objectivism, Rádl sharpened markedly the tension in both directions. On the one hand, he was more subjective than Masaryk. In his struggle against the liberal positivistic conception of an "unengaged science" following the motto "je n'impose rien; je ne propose rien; j'expose", he stressed conduct and decision; against the "objective science of the nineteenth century" he stressed contemporary "subjective science".

At first, he comprehended truth almost pragmatically considering it a matter of the moral decision on the part of the individual and as a matter of subjective allegiance to certain conceptions. In this spirit he drafted his History of Biological Theories and History of Philosophy. But along with this relativization of scientific truths, he laid much greater emphasis on the realm of absolute truth and morality than did Masaryk.

He attempted to create a philosophical system out of Masaryk's ideas without metaphysics and teleology ("actual teleology can be recognized only through the science"). He utilized biology, which was particularly favorable for this purpose, in connection with the fall of the mechanistic natural sciences and the assertion of historicism in biology. Where Masaryk had wanted to counterpoise the idea of the "purpose" of the world against the history of society; Rádl, on the other hand, tried to draft this "purpose" as a natural historical fact: "The purport of matters is an objectively given natural fact, but can be perceived by the `inner' eye only; it is an idea, as Plato said, a matter given objectively and is scientifically delimitable."(55) Here, the spirit is a supersensory essence appearing through individual material objects . On this basis, Rádl developed Masaryk's scheme about the abstract (laws, relationships), the concrete (the individual objects) and the practical (intentions) recognition of what exists, what is accepted and what should be accepted.(56) Rádl asserted these ideas against the positivistic demand of "unengaged science" and against its efforts to oust philosophy from the "positive" sciences.

An important result of Rádl's efforts is a philosophical defense of religion and theology. That is to say, he joined a number of pairs: a subjective conception of truth with the doctrine of a realm of truth above people; the expressly theological conception of faith that "all of a sudden truth is correct, moral and pious", with scientific knowledge in truth, but also "the truth of faith". Also by subjectivizing "the truth of science" he

made it a believed truth" which man as scientist had decided. Thus, the relationship between science and the religion of faith was solved in favor of the integration of science and theology: theology becoming a component of modern science and, as a matter of fact, the supreme science.(57) In this way the issue of "true reality" as the realm of absolute truth, justice and morality which rules over people, their experiences and history increasingly preoccupied Rádl's attention.

Masaryk strove to derive the absolute, general, binding moral norms from universal relationships and characteristics, placing morals and religion in the heart of man. He traced his final outlook to "the light of eternity", to the importance of faith in God, and hence a psychological effect. In contrast, for Rádl, "the rule of morality depends on a moral center lying beyond our reach". While metaphysics cannot identify this true reality or provide objective knowledge about it, yet it can come close to it.

The problem of "Russia and Europe" was for Masaryk a question of the degree to which the West would manage to carry out social reforms and whether Russia, which was subject to a "revolutionism" which already had become antiquated in the West, would be "Europeanized" in this sense. For Rádl contemporary society was already a theater of competition between "West and East", and he believed in the victory of the West. He sought the way out of this polarity through religion: "It is true that the kingdom of God is not of this world, but it is for this world. Its laws are asserted in this world, as well as in internal and international politics. Only work will bring you to this!" From the aspect of a "philosophy of action", in many ways reminiscent of Masaryk, he criticized shallow ecclesiasticism and also considered the new theological movements (e.g., dialectic theology) as being detached from life. Though he agreed with Kierkegaard's emphasis on revelation and on the discrepancy between God and man, he rebuked Kierkegaard, as he did Barth, for his scholasticism and over-emphasis upon the contradictions between God and man: "Dialectical theology is as far from the daily troubles of the ordinary man as is dialectic materialism".

In the conclusion to his "History of Philosophy", Rádl mentioned the disintegration and malady of Europe and posed the question of how to save civilization. In this he considered the only certainty to lie in the voice from the "supersensory": trust, fight, help; through you the truth will be victorious! Even if everything disappears, man's mission, which is not of this world, will remain. He saw the human conscience pulled taut by gaining absolute dimensions, so that it is the law which one possesses that becomes the only absolute, the only valid reality. "This world is a random tool for this ordained mission of ours."(58)



JOSEF LUKL HROMÁDKA (1889-1969)

This prominent representative of Czech Protestantism, and Rádl's collaborator of many years, was active particularly in the periods between the two world wars, during World War II and in the postwar period.(59) As a member of the younger theological generation he tried to cope with the opinions of Masaryk and Rádl and, in contrast to them, to transfer the infinitely more dramatic basic social problems to the theological-philosophical sphere.

Hromádka responded to the transformations of world Protestant theology: the traditions of liberal Protestantism and their historicizing approaches to harmonizing modern science and culture; the so-called social Christianity engaged in solving the "social problem"; and the "theology of crisis" of Barth's school, to which the above traditions and attempts appeared to be undue secularizations and pulverizations of religious faith and life.

Hromádka was very close to this attitude. His neo-orthodoxy involved a defense of the "classical line of Christianity", stressing the basic Biblical theses and the articles of Christian faith, a preemptory renewal of the main theological terms: "the grace of God", "sin" and "redemption". He again underscored the basic issue of theology as that of the relation of the transcendent God to the world, and of sinful man to God. In Hromádka's view, God is an objective, transcendent, super-individual being, completely supreme and revealed.(60)

Hromádka attached high value to Masaryk's political program and his stress on religion; he accepted his criticism of the church, welcomed his favorable statements about Catholicism, and the idea that religions should breed religion and should not interfere with the socio-political issues. However, he had many reservations about Masaryk's conception of religion about an "unrevealed" and "non-ecclesiastic" religion, and the demand for "synergism" or cooperation of man with God. He regarded highly Masaryk's emphasis on ethics; however, he objected to the dwindling of religion into ethics, philosophy and politics, to which religion was subordinated. He regarded Masaryk's philosophy as much too "anthropocentric" and "not very fertile religiously".(61)

This is the reason why Hromádka turned against all tendencies to subjectivize religion, to make it a mere psychological need or emotional experience. He objected to replacement of the "classical" (transcendent) conception of God by the immanent conception of philosophical gods subjecting religion to philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, science and modern culture. In this respect, Hromádka again asserted the right of theology to priority above all knowledge:

It is not a matter of happiness and blessedness in the first place, but of obedience to truth, to life in truth and to the victory of truth. The personal, practical and moral character of religious faith consists in this relationship to truth, in contrast to unprejudiced, purely theoretical scientific and philosophical thinking. Science recognizes reality, explains it, and thereby arrives at its own truth about the world, whereas faith (and I have in mind specifically the Christian faith) concludes that supreme truth is the norm of all relative human truth, that absolute truth is the master and legislator, the determinator of all human thinking, undertaking and desire. For faith is not only a matter of knowledge of the relations between things, nor is it a mere weltanschauung; it is the certainty that truth as a supreme living, personal norm exists and that it decides about my life and death.(62)

In his basic conception of truth and the relationship between philosophy, science and theology, Hromádka agreed with Rádl that the personal "truth of faith" and the absolute "truth of God" stand in contrast to the relative "truth of man". However, he separated science, as "unprejudiced, purely theoretical thinking", from theology more sharply than did Rádl. Rádl, the philosopher, is closer to Masaryk than Hromádka, the orthodox theologian, who was concerned primarily with the discrepancy between God and the world. Hromádka indicated brilliantly how the realm of responsibility, the conscious spiritual life, stands above the realm of nature and natural events.

However, Rádl appears to have indicated the path where synthesis might be sought, though this is not to suggest that Hromádka knew nothing about this path. The theologian does not distinguish between the realm of nature and the mind, but between the sin of the disturbed world and the true, original order of God. In this way the theologian makes man responsible for everything and seeks the final synthesis in the principle of redemption by God.(63)

In religion supported by theology, Hromádka saw the only means of intellectual synthesis which, in his opinion, Rádl, depending too much on philosophical means, had not solved, and which Masaryk too, had not managed to solve. For this reason, to the very end he blamed Masaryk for not having succeeded in overcoming positivism and naturalism, even though he had led a praiseworthy fight against them. In Hromádka's opinion, only religion can reach that goal.

Similar differences among Masaryk, Rádl and Hromádka can be found in their approach to ethics. Masaryk put "humanistic" ethics in the fore, expressed as all-human, natural standards, which appeal to transcendent religious aspects only in the last instance ("man can be man's ideal only sub species aeternitatis"). Rádl mentioned the moral order governing man. Hromádka finished this process by stressing faith in God's supremacy to which everything else--responsible behaviors, ethics and morals--"will be added"; this was a resolutely theocentric attitude.

Hromádka's reaction to "social Christianity" and to the "theology of crisis" is his way out of expressing his attitude to the new historical transformations connected particularly with World War II and the post-war changes. If Rádl's judgment was that the battle between the "West and the East" would be won by the West, Hromádka found himself in a situation "between East and the West". He thought it out in exile in America and, particularly after returning to post-war Czechoslovakia,(64) in a difficult tension between, on the one hand, the defense of the genuine character and independence of Christian faith and, on the other, his effort to bear joint responsibility in the world and in his own country.

This, however, will be a special chapter. Let us only note that this intellectual tradition had its own distinguished successors, in a certain sense reinforcing and intensifying its theological-philosophical orientation (J.B. Souek, A. Molnár, J. Lochman, L. Hejdánek, among others).

JAN BLAHOSLAV KOZÁK (1888-1974)

In the same way as Hromádka, so J. Kozák originally had wanted to be an evangelical clergyman. After his study of theology abroad, devoting much attention to philosophy as well, he worked as an evangelical vicar (1910-1914). Since he frequently disagreed with the traditional orthodoxy around him (he was under the influence of the radical religious-historical school and of liberal theology), he decided on a civil career as a teacher. He began his university career in 1921 after submitting his habilitation thesis in philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy of Charles University in Prague; six years later he was appointed there professor of philosophy.(65)

Influenced by Mare and Rádl, Kozák soon began to come to terms with positivism; he objected to the way positivism disregarded metaphysical matters, and replaced the quaestio iuris for the quaestio originis when solving the validity of noetic and ethical principles, etc. In the process of knowledge, Kozák assumed that thinking as a biological function adapts to or accommodates objective reality: the more the statement refers to the concrete reality and is factually more comprehensive, the less is it certain, making it necessary to extend further its inductive basis.(66)

It is symptomatic for Kozák that his attention was directed mainly to the sphere of moral values and principles, particularly to the problem of how to decide the question whether endeavors to realize moral values are not a mere private matter of mankind, but the fulfillment of a higher principle, or, as Kozák put it, "the moral order of the universe".(67) He assumed that man could draw the greater certainty he needed for decision-making and behaviour from the moral experience of people, on the one hand, and from religious faith as the source of conviction about the validity and liability of moral values, on the other.

In his considerations regarding religion and its operation, Kozák bore in mind unrevealed religion, taking into account the world of contemporary man and the results of scientific investigations. He strove to contribute to this understanding of religion and hence also to the "re-discovery of Christianity. For example, in his book, Jesus in the Faith and Skepticism of Our Times (1920), he wrote:

The critical man must reject the resurrection, his (Jesus') own resurrection and all his other miracles. The meaning of the evangelical tidings about Jesus is that the genuine spiritual personality was killed by secular power. The herald of the supreme spiritual ideals was condemned by the world full of depravity and was nailed to the cross.

The life and death of Jesus are explained as a permanent appeal for the struggle for spiritual values. Kozák did not mean only the salvation of the individual man, he emphasized the social activity of the Christian: "Work in the world is his duty; it leads to the most difficult and most delicate moral tasks."

From Masaryk's conception of religion he stressed the idea of synergism or cooperation between man and God.(68) The moral, spiritual values should be "a warp onto which the true reformation of the society will be woven." At the beginning, Kozák interpreted the basis of religious faith--the idea of God--as a scientific hypothesis supported also ontologically; later he re-ontologized it: "God" was the inevitable spiritual ideal, "the meeting place of ideas" for which man decides and which should then lead him through life. "I know nothing about the essence of this necessity; I only know that it exists and that it imposes duties upon me."

Kozák's philosophical thinking, aimed permanently at the ethical, the anthropological and at matter, was expressed in the period between the two World Wars particularly in his books The Present State of Ethics (1930), The Fight for Spiritual Values (1930) and Science and the Mind (1938). In these works he elaborated particularly his conception of values and evaluation: values are objective qualities which man works gradually to understand and recognize on the basis of all his life experiences; these convince him also that it is necessary to care about "the call of values", i.e., the voice saying that something "should be".

Kozák's acquaintance with phenomenological philosophy (Husserl and Scheler), and his application of the method of phenomenological reflection associated with the characteristic conceptions of intention, horizon, meaning, opinion, etc., contributed to the profundity and refinement of his considerations in the '30s. (Elsewhere it was mentioned that Kozák was a co-founder of the Prague Philosophical Circle which dealt with the studies and diffusion of phenomenology.)(69)

He presumed that man's recognition and evaluation of reality stems from what is given immediately in his consciousness (in his lectures on knowledge he mentioned also "gnoseological transcendence"). Through his spirit, intentions and transcendent vision, man measures things not only in their phenomenality but in their "essence", thereby creating conceptions which are intentional but not unobjective. As a result of the activities of the individual spirit these may have many topical meanings which make them relative. Therefore, truth does not lie in a harmony between thinking and variable reality, but in the mutual agreement of the intentional objects effected. There is no reason to stop identifying the results of various spiritual intentions: "Thinking should harmonize in itself."

In accord with his philosophy, Kozák participated actively in public life in the period between the two World Wars, defending democratic ideas and resisting Fascism. He spent the war period in the USA as a teacher at Oberlin College, and worked for sometime in the diplomatic service. After World War II he again lectured at Charles University where he was Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy. He followed very carefully and commented on the domestic social activities of the time. He himself tried "to go in Masaryk's direction, beyond and above Masaryk, to balance his theoretical dispute with Marxism", asserting that the solution of social problems must not be governed by false myths, nor should it be done to the detriment of the basic democratic principles.(70) After the coup d'état in February 1948, he was allowed to publish only his translations of Bruno, Voltaire, La Mettrie, etc.

After World War II, Kozák tried to elaborate the ontological basis of his philosophical standpoint. However, his "contextualism" (processual and causal ontology) is to be found only in the reports of his former university students.(71) The term "contextualism" corresponds to Kozák's understanding of temporal events. He saw them as changes which effect the quality of all things including specific methods of behaviour and their effects on subject. In these there perdure the contexts or "dynamic structures of events which bear certain features of past events and, at the same time, contain as possibilities the features of future events towards whose realization they aim". The universe is an entity where infinite numbers of various narrower and broader contexts penetrate. Some of them, as Kozák was convinced, aim toward something higher and more perfect, toward something divine. Man should support such things, at least in spheres which he can, in some way, influence. Kozák's philosophy is optimistic: it does not pretend to make things easy for man, for it has high demands, however, it provides hope that human endeavors for spiritual values have a "higher meaning".

J.B. Kozák was a Protestant thinker in his orientation, in his emphasis on Christian activism his thought was akin to those tendencies in Protestantism already profiled by D. Bonhoeffer and transformed by many other Protestant theologians. This did not yield to the pressures of a secularizing world, but strove for a new, clear presentation of Christianity in this world. In this way, Kozák contributed to the formation of a tradition which would help Czech Protestants to find a position from which they would be able to address individual's problems in order to find a way out and a direction for all their efforts while, at the same time, providing for an adequate view of the global problems of contemporary society.