The Meaning of Sacrifice: Jan Palach memorial


On 16th January 1969, young Czech philosophy student Jan Palach burned himself to death. He did so in protest against the growing indifference of citizens towards the gross injustices of the communist regime. The impact of his act was unprecedented. It changed the course of Czechoslovak history and became a symbol that inspired protesters around the world.

There are many different kinds of sacrifice. What is the meaning of sacrifice today? Is it the right way to protest? What can we learn from the legacy of Jan Palach's most radical act?

The purpose of this event will be to address these questions. We will discuss the philosophical origins of the idea of self-sacrifice, from Christianity to Buddhism to the New Left. We will hear people sharing their own personal experiences with protest by sacrifice. We will engage in a collective ritual to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Jan Palach's death.

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