Milan Kundera on the Uniqueness of One’s Self


Here is a philosophical examination of some themes presented by Milan Kundera in The Art of the Novel, as well as in his novels Immortality and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The discussions of the first-personal perspectives of the novel’s author, both as appearing in and as contrasted with that of a character in the novel, as these unfold in implicit subtle comic, social-political contexts, prescind from these contexts and dwell instead on fictional renditions of the senses of personhood and its individuality especially as embodied in the face and as implied in relations of love. Of special interest is Kundera’s thesis that the irreplaceable uniqueness of the individual is one of Europe’s finest illusions.


self, person, first-person reference, individuality, world, fiction, face, love

How to cite:

Hart, James G. “Milan Kundera on the Uniqueness of One’s Self.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 2, no. 3(5) (2018): 100–127. https://doi.org/10.26319/5818.


James G. Hart (Professor Emeritus)
Department of Religious Studies, Indiana University Bloomington
College of Arts and Sciences, Sycamore Hall 230, 1033 E 3rd St., Bloomington, IN 47405-7005, USA


Brentano, Franz. Kategorienlehre. Hamburg: Meiner, 1974.

Frank, Manfred. Selbstgefühl. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2002.

Hart, James G. “The Individuality of the I in Brentano.” Journal of Speculative Philosophy 26, no. 2 (2012): 232–246.

Hart, James G. “Mythic World as World.” International Journal of Philosophy 15, no. 4 (1975): 51–69.

Hart, James G. Who One Is: A Transcendental-Existential Phenomenology. Book 1: Meontology of the” I.” A Transcendental Phenomenology. Dordrecht: Springer, 2009.

Hart, James G. Who One Is: A Transcendental-Existential Phenomenology. Book 2: Existenz and Transcendental Phenomenology. Dordrecht: Springer, 2009.

Heidegger, Martin. Zur Bestimmung der Philosophie. Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 56/57. Frankfurt: Vittoro Kostermann, 1999.

Henry, Michel. “The Soul According to Descartes.” In Essays on the Philosophy and Science of René Descartes, edited by Stephen Voss. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Husserl, Edmund. Ideen zu einer reinen Phaenomenologie und Phaenomenologischen Philosophie I, edited by Walter Biemel. Husserliana, Vol. III. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1950.

Husserl, Edmund. Phantasie, Bildbewusstsein, Erinnerung, edited by Eduard Marbach. Husserliana, Vol. XXIII. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1980.

Jankélévitch, Vladimir. La Mort. Paris: Flammarion, 1996.

Klawon, Erich. Mind and Death: A Metaphysical Investigation. Odense: University of Southern Denmark, 2009.

Kundera, Milan. The Art of the Novel. Translated by Linda Asher. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

Kundera, Milan. Immortality. Translated by Peter Kussi. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991.

Kundera, Milan. The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Translated by Michael Henry Heim. London: Faber & Faber, 1999.

L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. New York: Square Fish, 1962/2007.

Spaemann, Robert. Persons: The Difference between “Someone” and “Something”. Translated by Oliver O’Donovan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Valberg, J. J. Dream, Death, and the Self. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007.

Zahavi, Dan. Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the First-Person Perspective. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.

Open Access Statement:

This is an open access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, as long as the author and original source are properly cited. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Submitting a text to Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture means that the author agrees with the general conditions of this license. The author does and will maintain copyrights and publishing rights for his/her article without any restrictions.