The Josef Dobrovský Honorary Medal for Merit in the Philological and Philosophical Sciences


The Josef Dobrovský Honorary Medal
for Merit in the Philological and Philosophical Sciences

awarded by the Czech Academy of Sciences


This honour was established by the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences on September 2, 1965 as an Honorary Plaquette for outstanding contributions to the social sciences, particularly in the fields of linguistics, literary history and art studies. Since the second half of the year 1995, it has been awarded by the Czech Academy of Sciences as an Honorary Medal.

Josef Dobrovský (1753–1829), a priest and a scholar had unusually wide scientific interests. From an early fascination in orientalism, he moved on to critical studies of the Bible. He took an interest in archeology, history, literary history, and especially philology where he formulated a working approach to Slavonic languages.

The basis of Dobrovský's indisputable intellectual Europeanism is grounded in a wider, enlightened, scientific context, going beyond the narrowly understood efforts of the Czech national revival. In his work, Dobrovský applied an uncompromisingly critical approach to the evaluation of literary works, placing the discovery of the truth above anything else. In German, he published a history of Czech language and literature, a detailed grammar of Czech language which helped resurrect the Czech literary language, a German-Czech dictionary, the grammar of Old Slavonic and Lusatian Serbic. In Latin, he published the fundamentals of Old Slavonic language, and in Czech, he published a collection of Czech sayings and many other publications, analyses, reports, and essays. It is not possible to leave aside Dobrovský's contribution in the field of religion. Dobrovský is tied to the Josefin reform efforts, particularly in regard to pastoral care for the most widespread elements of society. Theologic rationalism led Dobrovský to a preference of natural religion. His humanistically uncompromising approach is documented by his defence of Bernard Bolzano at the time of his removal from his university position in Prague.

Dobrovský was a scholar of world stature, in correspondence with the foremost scientists and writers of his period (eg. J. W. Goethe). He was a member of the Royal Czech Society of Sciences and many foreign academies, for example in Warsaw, Berlin, Krakow, Vilnius and St. Petersburg. The depth of his knowledge places him in an honorary position among European scholars of his period.

The Josef Dobrovský medal was designed by academic sculptor and medallist Jiří Prádler (1929–1993), a student of Prof. O. Španiel.

List of awarded medals