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2004 | 18 | 7-41

Article title

Der eschatologische Ton in den Vorworten der Drucke Veleslavíns. Zur Position der Eschatologie als Quelle der Ethik im späthumanistischen Diskurs


Title variants

The Eschatological Tone of the Veleslavín Forewords: On the Position of Eschatology as a Source of Ethics in Humanist Discourse

Languages of publication



This article analyses the position of eschatology as a source of ethics in historiography and the production of editions by the Veleslavin circle. The main issues include the appearance of eschatological and religious arguments in the Veleslavin texts, their marked entry into period discourse and the possible consequences for the Veleslavin ethics of the self. In comparison with earlier historiographic works of the 16th century, this central position of religious topics in the Veleslavin concept of history is a new phenomenon, at the root of which lies a strong eschatological unease, clear in particular in the forewords to the two 'Ecclesiastical histories' (Historia cirkevni, 1594), the 'Jewish History of Josephus Flavius' (Historia zidovska, 1592) and the 'Two Chronicles of the Foundation of the Czech Land' (Kroniky dve o zalozeni zeme ceske, 1585). In the first part of the article the authoress delineates the position of religion in the broader Veleslavin reflection of history, and devotes attention to the question of how the religious level enters the argumentation of the Veleslavin forewords, setting out the historicity of the basic ethical categories (e.g. the rule of life). She further assesses the inspirational source of the Veleslavin argumentation, which is Philippist conception of history and its specific themes (e.g. the 'anni fatales'), and its eschatologically oriented reformulation in the Veleslavin production. In a later part of the text the authoress presents the constitution of ethics based on eschatology and religious arguments in connection with the proclaimed abandonment of the Neo-Latin Humanist model of formal and linguistic normatives. In conclusion, the authoress casts doubt on the sense of the question of to what to ascribe this radical shift towards eschatological themes and religious argumentation in models of ethics (e.g. in association with the paradigm of confessionalisation), and offers as an opportunity for interpretation a concentration on the Veleslavin ethics of the self, which she understands as the internal context of the eschatological tone in the corpus of texts linked to the printworks. The rule of life and its anchoring in historiography can in this connection be understood as a collection of techniques forming and leading the self, which makes the self the subject of ethical experience and negotiation; in consequence, this enables incorporation into a functional social whole. The process of Foucauldian subjectivation offers a new interpretational framework for the explanation of other texts from the Veleslavin output as well.


  • L. Storchova, Filosoficky ustav AV CR, v.v.i., Jilska 1, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic


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Publication order reference


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