A reappraisal of the political philosophy of Vaclav Havel

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis argues that Václav Havel presents a cohesive political philosophy which he terms liberal agonism. In the thesis the author explores the main influences on Havel‘s political philosophy. He describe what Havel means by his famous maxim "live in truth," claiming that what Havel means is that to live in truth, one must continually engage in a process of self-agonism in order to be existentially honest with oneself. Further to this, he claims that in Havel‘s writings there is the idea that in order for self-agonism to be fully utilised, the state must take an active interest in encouraging self-agonism through a liberal philosophy. This thesis spells out Havel‘s own unique political philosophy. The author argues that a liberal agonism is a political philosophy in which the state allows, celebrates and encourages a process of self-interrogation through which existential identities are expressed and acted upon.
Date of Award12 Oct 2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDamian Cox (Supervisor)

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