Thinking My Country: A Philosophical Study of Patriotism and an Analysis of Polish Patriotism in the Thought of Pope John Paul II

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  • Patriotism is a prominent and powerful concept in daily politics and nation-building and is often closely connected to both personal identity and national identity. Using a cultural-philosophical approach, this essay aims to develop a theoretical understanding of patriotism as a universal concept and as a distinct cultural phenomenon. In the first section, this essay explores the theoretical underpinnings of patriotism as a universal concept, accepting the definition of patriotism as 'love of one's homeland,' but seeking to expand on this understanding by discussing the deeper meaning of the patria or homeland, the evolution of the patria, and love of the patria. It discusses four central elements of the patria: territory, culture, values, and history, which are often considered to be essential. It is postulated that the patria, understood here as a conceptual (rather than political or cultural entity), is not an objective reality but is created subjectively when individuals identify with the patria. Nevertheless, the patria is a real community, and therefore should not be regarded as 'imagined.' The patria is created by connection and dialogue between the individual and the group as a whole. The essay also discusses what it means to love the patria, the ethical limitations of such love, and the problems of radical, extreme forms of patriotism which leads many to condemn patriotism either because it appears to contradict universal morality or because it does not seem to constitute 'true love.' In the second section, this essay discusses the relationship between patriotism as a universal concept and the patriotism found in concrete cultural contexts. Rather than viewing each individual or culture as having their own patriotism, it is argued that such forms of patriotism are manifestations of a more universal patriotism and as such may also be described as popular patriotism. Using the speeches and writing of Pope John Paul II as a case study, the essay takes Polish patriotism as an example. Three aspects are discussed as examples of how specific cultural concepts contribute to the flavour of popular patriotism. Firstly, Pope John Paul II views Catholicism as deeply connected to Polish identity. This connection can also be seen in the thought of other prominent Poles (such as Jan Matejko and Adam Mickiewicz), in the Solidarity Movement, in Polish Messianism, and in the Polish Constitution. Secondly, solidarity, both towards one's compatriots and universal human solidarity, also play a role in Polish patriotism. Thirdly, it discusses resilience, which is connected to the role of suffering during events such as the partitions, WWI and WWII, and can be seen in the national anthem.

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    Research Material
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International