From the time of the ancient Greeks to the development of modern thought, the Socratic “care of the soul” has emerged as one of the main features characterizing European religion, philosophy, and education. Among those to have recognized its significance for the roots of European consciousness was Jan Patočka. Another theme which reoccurs in the European arts, both visual and literary, is the tradition of virtue, whose acquisition presents the primary ethical task for the individual. Both approaches, the Socratic “care of the soul” and the Aristotelian “training in virtue” are ultimately compatible at the level of their higher order integration into the Christian philosophy of love and a life imbued with both contemplation and activity. The real challenge to the European citizen of today seems not so much to leave his continent a better place, but rather, to leave this world a better man.
This volume brings together materials and themes which will make it possible in subsequent discussions to advance beyond our current understanding of Europe and its cultural identity.