‘Politics with a Spiritual Dimension’: Václav Havel in the Context of Eastern Philosophy and Religion


  • Olivia Ann Kinnear University of Adelaide




Vaclav Havel, Eastern Spirituality, Eastern Philosophy, Politics, Kashmir Shaivism


This article analyses the work of Václav Havel in order to explore some possibilities for integrating Eastern spiritual and philosophical perspectives within Western political and academic discourses. In particular I focus on a difference of opinion in the literature on Havel over whether to categorise him as a religious or a postmodern thinker, and contend that this tension disappears when his work is placed in the context of the ancient Indian philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. Havel was not a Shiavite (nor was he a Christian); however, I argue that Havel and Shaivism share a fundamentally similar worldview. I also argue that Shaivism has much to offer Havel and Western philosophy and politics more generally. To demonstrate this I explore the topics of God and religion, truth and morality, and human nature. Whilst these discussions are very brief and preliminary they show that this could be a powerful and fascinating area of future research.

Author Biography

  • Olivia Ann Kinnear, University of Adelaide
    Olivia Ann Kinnear is a PhD candidate in Politics at the University of Adelaide. She is interested in the intersections of spirituality with progressive political theory and action, and is particularly focused on Dharmic religions.






How to Cite

Kinnear, O. A. (2014). ‘Politics with a Spiritual Dimension’: Václav Havel in the Context of Eastern Philosophy and Religion. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 27(1), 72-93. https://doi.org/10.1558/jasr.v27i1.72