The first emeritus professor of the University of West Bohemia was philosopher and religious scholar

University Achievements Employees

On Wednesday, 8 November, during the Ceremonial Meeting of the Scientific Council of the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, Prof. Otakar A. Funda, a philosopher and religious scholar who has been working at the Department of Philosophy of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of West Bohemi

Prof. Funda is one of those outstanding personalities of the Czech academic community who achieved recognition abroad before at home. Although he received his doctorate in theology from the University of Basel in 1971 and worked at the universities of Tübingen, Bonn, Bochum, Munich, Basel, Bern and Göttingen, he was able to enter the Czech ones only after 1990. Due to the obstruction of the communist regime, which refused to recognize his Basel doctorate, he had to graduate again in 1981 at the Comenius Evangelical Divinity Faculty in Prague, and only after the regime change was it possible for him to habilitate in Philosophy of Religion at the Hussite Theological Faculty of Charles University in 1990. In 2003 he was appointed Professor of Philosophy at the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University in Brno.


"Prof. Funda has been associated with the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen since 1995," said Ludmila Dostálová, head of the department, adding, "For more than a quarter of a century, as a distinctive academic personality, he has inspired generations of its students and, thanks to his work in the doctoral programme, he has educated many of our younger colleagues." The weight of his personality contributed substantially to the establishment of philosophy and religious studies in the Faculty of Arts. Thanks to his guarantee, in 2012 the Faculty of Philosophy of the ZČU ceased to be the only philosophy faculty in the Czech Republic that does not cultivate the discipline of philosophy. Also, the obtaining of institutional accreditation in the field of education Philosophy, Religious Studies and Theology is his significant merit, because only thanks to his qualifications in all three disciplines could ZČU defend the qualification security in the full scope of this disparate field of education.


He always taught his students, "Scientificity means appropriateness to the subject. In the field of religion, therefore, it is necessary to thematize - with the greatest possible degree of objectivity, with the greatest possible concern for impartiality - how the followers of a given religion understand and are understood by themselves." In this way, Professor Funda, through his own philosophical and pedagogical practice, anticipated an extremely important thing for humanistic discourse: respect and humility towards the views of others. "The first thing to do is to try to understand thoroughly and consistently why someone says what they say, why someone says something differently from me. And only then - when one really honestly tries to get to the bottom of not only what the other person says, but also the reasons that lead him to say it - to formulate one's position, one's opinion. Or, if it is an opinion that is not shared, a belief, not an opinion supported by arguments, to remain politely silent."


Related to the requirement of reasonableness to the topic is his philosophical position as a critical rationalist. Funda coined the term qualitative positivism, which, according to him, is not a mere description, "but a genuine insight, adequate to the phenomenon under investigation, reflecting the reality under question as far as possible in all its dimensions." Prof. Fund's legacy as a critical rationalist is being developed at the philosophy department by Fund's successor Jitka Paitlová, and the religious studies segment of Fund's thought is being continued by his PhD student Zdeňka Špiclová.


At the end of last year, Prof. Funda decided to end his official tenure at the Department of Philosophy. His decision was also motivated by the desire to not take space (and especially funding) away from younger colleagues in both the currently difficult situation and in view of the long-term underfunding of higher education. However, thanks to Wednesday's appointment, he can continue to work in the department and remain a member.

Faculty of Arts

Mgr. et Mgr. Zdeňka Špiclová, Ph.D.

12. 11. 2023