Václav Havel believed in the concept of “philosophia peri ta anthropina,” an old Aristotelian term that refers to action-oriented political science. This idea serves as the foundation to our initiative and mirrors the legacy which Havel abided by for many years.
Born in a country at the “heart” of Europe before WWII, Václav Havel was confronted with totalitarianism which plagued this region in the 20th century. As a playwright, essayist, a kind of Socratic philosopher, one of the first spokespersons of Charter 77 and a prisoner of consciousness, he tried to resist this notion through whatever means possible. He belonged – he passed away in 2011 - to those Central Europeans who had courage and spiritual power to think through this, not always easy human experience. Finally, he became the leader of the Velvet Revolution which terminated Communist rule in 1989, brought freedom to his country and set it on the road to return to Europe after more than four decades of “Babylonian captivity” in the Soviet Empire.
Václav Havel was elected the first president of liberated Czechoslovakia and in this capacity he visited Florida International University in 2002, during his last official visit to the United States. Here he spoke at a forum, devoted to the problems of post-communist transitions and re-opening of the societies closed for decades by a totalitarian rule. Havel thus initiated a long-term communication, which is now being institutionalized through our initiative.