Prague, Oct 5 (CTK) – The Czech philosopher, university lecturer and political writer, Jan Sokol, who was awarded the annual Vision 97 prize from the Dagmar and Vaclav Havel Foundation, stressed the need for defence of freedom and the danger of rejection of solidarity at the award-giving ceremony on Wednesday.
The foundation awarded Sokol for his contribution to the freedom of speech and development of education, highlighting his personal bravery in the Communist era on the day of the late Havel’s 80th birth anniversary.
The prize was presented by Havel’s widow, Dagmar Havlova.
Born like Havel in Prague in 1936, Sokol made his living as a goldsmith and mechanic after the war.
He worked as a programmer from 1964 to 1990. At the same time he was busy with Christian philosophy and the theory of religion. He helped translate the Bible and published some essays in magazines and later in samizdat. He was one of the first Czechs to have signed the Charter 77 dissident manifesto.
In 1998, he was the education minister. In 2003, he made an unsuccessful presidential bid against Vaclav Klaus (2003-2013).
He then withdrew to the academic sphere. Between 2000 and 2007, he was the first dean of the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University.
Sokol is the 18th laureate of Vision 97.
The Vision 97 prize is bestowed on thinkers who contributed to the understanding of science as an integral part of general culture, who focus on matters related to cognition, being and human existence in an unconventional way.
“It is the easiest to curtail freedom under the excuse of protection and security,” Sokol said.
“Those who really need it, must constantly advocate and defend it. If they do not do it, they will lose it sooner or later,” Sokol said, quoting ancient Greek historian Thucydides.
It is a difficult task to defend freedom in a mass society, Sokol said.
“Our Czech society tends to show that our forces are not sufficient for this,” he added.
Hence the need for good relations with liberally-minded neighbours who are able to better protect their freedom, Sokol said.