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The Conception of Man in the Works of John Amos Comenius


Jan Čížek

This book maps the entire development of Comenius’s considerations on man, from his earliest writings to his philosophical masterwork. Although this book primarily offers an analysis and description of the conception of man in Comenius’s work, it may also serve the reader as a more general introduction to his philosophical conception. The author shows that, in spite of the fact that Comenius has received no small amount of academic attention, funded studies or monographs in English language remain in single figures. Thus, a range of Comenius’s remarkable ideas are still unknown to the wider public.


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1. Introduction


At the XIII International Colloquium of Comenius Studies in Uherský Brod, which dealt with Erasmus, Johannes Valentinus Andreae, and John Amos Come- nius, the Czech philosopher and historian Robert Kalivoda said that Comenius’s philosophy of man was largely uncharted territory. He could not have known that his observation would remain valid for two decades to come.1 Today, Czech and foreign scholars can draw on a large number of studies deal- ing with Comenius’s works. However, the majority of those barely scratch the surface of the philosopher’s conception of man, or else view it from only one perspective (most frequently, a pedagogical one). Surprisingly enough, several publications dealing with Comenius’s anthropology had been planned, but either were not completed or did not make it to the publishing stage. Take for example Kalivoda’s intended second volume of the Hussite Monograph, which was to deal with anthropological questions, or the unpublished monograph J. A. Komenský, myslitel o nápravě člověka [John Amos Comenius: A Thinker Concerned with the Reformation of Man].2 Gertrud Britschgi’s dissertation, which analyses a wide spectrum of sources, is probably the most important contribution to the study of 1 Kalivoda, Robert: Komenského pojem emendace a reformační myšlení [Comenius’s Conception of Emendation and Reformation Thought]. In: SCetH 35 (XVIII), 1988, p. 37. During the ensuing discussions, Kalivoda expanded on his paper: “What I have presented here is only a brief description of the problem. To resolve it, a lot of work, or maybe a whole book...

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