This discussion study has the aim of reopening the debate about the publishing and interpreting of the work of the Czech philosopher Jan Patočka (1907–1977). The piece is divided into three inter-related steps: 1) Firstly, attention is paid to the specific character of Patočka‘s nachlass, most of which was originally preserved only in manuscript form and which is broken up into several thematic areas. 2) Next, the piece examines the extended endeavour to work on the nachlass and to publish it. Special attention is given here to the Czech edition of Patočka’s Collected Writings, which have not yet been completed, and around which there have developed a series of stormy discussions. 3) In connection with this, it is argued that those who wish to interpret Patočka’s work in their own way face similar problems to the ones faced by the editors of the Collected Writings. The piece shows, at this point, that the problems associated both with the publication and with the interpretation of Patočka’s work stem from the very specific character of Patočka’s nachlass. So if we wish to find our orientation in Patočka’s extensive work, and to understand it, it will be necessary to take account of all the personal, socio-political and intellectual contexts in which it arose. In conclusion, therefore, the piece calls for a thorough and complex treatment of Patočka’s biography – work which should not be only a matter for philosophers, as hitherto, however, but also for historians.