Radovan Richta wrote to Professor Diemer: ‘In some parts of the Western press the matter is presented as though Tomin were a distinguished philosopher persecuted and silenced for his views etc. But in fact he is worth nothing in philosophy, he has never published any scientific book, and his output comprises … one manuscript, a tiny study in the middle of the 1970s, which was not published because it was condemned by highly competent referees for its absolutely negligible scientific content.’
In the middle of 1970, when I was working in the Prague Power-plant as a turbine operator, I wrote a book on Descartes entitled I think – I am (Myslím – jsem). I was prompted to write it by Milan Sobotka’s claim that ‘Descartes wrote the first outline of the Meditations in 1629’ (the ‘Introductory note’ to Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, Svoboda, Prague 1970, p. 132). I doubted that Descartes could have written an outline of his Meditations before he wrote the World, of which he reported in the Discourse on the Method in 1636 (it remained unpublished during his lifetime). I got Descartes’ Oeuvres published by Adam and Tannery from the University Library, read Descartes’ World, and my doubts grew stronger. Sobotka based his claim on Descartes’ letter to G. Gibieuf from 18th July 1629, and so I read Descartes’ correspondence from the years 1628 to 1630. This transformed my doubts into certainty: the theory about Descartes’ outline of the Meditations written in 1629 is mistaken.
Concerning I think – I am I wrote in ‘An account of an experiment’ addressed to the Institute of Philosophy: ‘It is not a small thing, what I succeeded in demonstrating. The theory of Descartes’ early Metaphysics is not only the theory held by C. Güttler, to whom Sobotka refers as his source. It is a theory held by the foremost interpreters of Descartes for centuries. In the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century it was advocated by the editors of Descartes’ Works Adam and Tannery, in the 19th by J. Millet, and its roots go back to the 17th century Life of Descartes written by A. Baillet (Vie de Descartes, Paris 1691).’
After writing the I think – I am, I took it to the Publishing House of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. In ‘An account of an experiment’ I wrote about it: ‘I went to the Publishing House to submit the book for editorial assessment. My request was rejected with an air of incredulity: “How could you think that we might possibly consider publishing your work?” – I pleaded: “I am interested simply in getting the book properly examined and assessed.” – “Do you really think that some academic might read your book, at the present time?” I went home, I felt sick.’
As I have already noted, I addressed ‘An account of an experiment’ to the Institute of Philosophy; Radovan Richta was the Director of it. So let me end this post by comparing my account of my visit at the Publishing House with Radovan Richta’s letter to Professor Diemer, President of the International Federation of Philosophic Societies: ‘he [i.e. Tomin] has never published any scientific book, and his output comprises … one manuscript, a tiny study in the middle of the 1970s, which was not published because it was condemned by highly competent referees for its absolutely negligible scientific content.’
The I think – I am was published in the samizdat Petlice on the recommendation of the two greatest philosophers of those days in our country, Professor Jan Patočka and Professor Karel Kosík. Well informed as Richta was, he undoubtedly knew about it. But more importantly, when Richta wrote and published his letter to Professor Diemer, he was sure that I would never be allowed to question his allegations in Public Media, and that no Publishing House would publish my book on Descartes.