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16 February 2021

Philosopher and former education minister Jan Sokol dies at 84

Czech philosopher Jan Sokol, a signatory of the Charter 77 human rights declaration in 1976, has died at the age of 84. He was a key public figure known for his work in academia, his contributions to clandestine samizdat literature in communist Czechoslovakia, and – following communism – was a former MP, minister of education as well as one-time presidential candidate. In the election in 2003, he lost to former prime minister Václav Klaus.

Sokol, born in Prague in 1936, was the son of an architect and an art historian. As a young man, he trained as a goldsmith but went on to study mathematics at Charles University, which he did not complete. His studies were recognised only after 1990, according to Czech Radio. In the 1990s, Sokol lectured on philosophy, anthropology and religious studies at the Faculty of Arts at the school and taught at the Faculty of Humanities until 2007, where he was also dean.

Forum interviewed Jan Sokol in November of 2019 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. You can read the interview, in English, here.

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