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Masaryk, Tomas (1850–1937)

Michael Rossi

Subject History » Political History

Place Eastern Europe » Czech Republic

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899, 1900-1999

Key-Topics bibliography, democracy, individualism, nationalism, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00992.x


Dr. Tomas Garrigue Masaryk was the first president of the newly established Czechoslovak state between 1918 and 1935. A distinguished academic, having served as professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Prague since 1882, and leader of the resistance to Austrian rule during World War I, Masaryk's appointment as president was well received by both Czech and European intellectual circles. He is credited with establishing Czechoslovakia and keeping it firmly within the democratic political realm until the outbreak of World War II. Masaryk's philosophical commitments were rooted in the works of Plato, Hume, and Comte . His first serious study, the subject of his thesis at Vienna University, focused on the Platonic nature of the soul. Here, Masaryk was interested in examining a theoretical synthesis between moral and religious ideals and everyday practical activity. In the same spirit, he regarded the vocation of politics as an activity directed by ideals but nevertheless rooted in firm scientific understanding. Philosophy was thus a practical instruction for men's behavior, and not merely an academic discipline. The search for balance between religion and practicality deepened throughout his life, and undoubtedly influenced his abandonment of his original Catholic faith for more secular forms of Protestantism. His doctoral thesis “Suicide as a Social Mass Movement” ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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