Slovakia, philosophy in

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N082-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 18, 2024, from

2. The seventeenth to nineteenth centuries

The Reform School (kolegium) in the East Slovak town of Prešov became the country’s first important philosophical centre. This school tried to overcome scholasticism by promoting Bacon’s inductive empirical methods, thereby hoping to achieve closer connection between philosophy and the natural sciences (see Bacon, F.). The leading representatives, who were influenced also by the works of Comenius, were Ján Bayer (d. 1674) and Izák Caban (d. 1707). At the Jesuit university in Trnava, centre of the anti-reform movement, some professors, including František Kéri (d. 1768), Andrej Jaslinský (d. 1784), and Ján B. Horvát (d. 1800), were impressed by the methods of current natural science and worked to free Slovak philosophy from orthodox neoscholasticism.

The Enlightenment reached its peak in Slovakia between 1789 and 1820. Here it showed some indications of compromise (particularly in relation to religion) when compared to its western European counterpart. Nevertheless, it also fulfilled an emancipatory function through figures such as Žigmund Karlovský (d. 1821), Ján Laurentzy (d.1819), Michal Steigel (d.1829), and Ján Feješ (d.1823).

National Revival, developing at first in parallel and in cooperation with similar Czech feelings, brought a change in the orientation of philosophy. Abstract metaphysics, ontology and logic were no longer at the forefront. Their place was taken by philosophy of history, an interest in theories of nationhood (in connection with philosophy of language, arts and culture) and, in general, philosophy conceived as the theory of particular social practices. Reform tradition, German neohumanism and philosophers such as Herder, Fries and Hegel stimulated new thought. Theoreticians of the National Revival saw ideological support for their efforts in the ‘Slavonic’ emergence of Herderian–Hegelian philosophy of history as the highest degree of human development. Ján Kollár (d. 1852) built on this philosophy to produce his own idea of the mutual cultural evolution of Slavs. L’udovít Štúr (d. 1856) developed the idea in a Hegelian spirit by stressing the necessity of a specific emancipatory role for the Slovak nation, thus influencing the whole future course of the Slovak national liberation effort. Štúr’s contemporaries and followers put forward similar ideas, and this concept achieved a kind of Slavonic messianicism in the thought of some philosophers.

A change is evident in the second half of the nineteenth century with thinkers interested in the particular needs of national society. This work was undertaken by scientists such as D. Štúr, A. Stodola and J.A. Wagner on the one hand, while on the other there was later, from the beginning of the twentieth century, a group of intellectuals, including V. Šrobár, A. Štefánek and J. Lajčiak, gathered round the magazine Hlas (Voice) which was inspired by the philosophy of Masaryk.

Citing this article:
Zumr, Josef. The seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. Slovakia, philosophy in, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N082-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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