For the supporter of Interlingua, see Július Tomin (Interlingua)

Julius Tomin (born 2 December 1938) is a Czech philosopher. He became known in the 1970s and 1980s for his involvement with the Jan Hus Educational Foundation, which ran an underground education network in the former Czechoslovakia, offering seminars in philosophy in people's homes.[1]

Julius Tomin
Born2 December 1938 (1938-12-02) (age 81)
EducationPhD, philosophy, 1965
Alma materCharles University in Prague
Known forUnderground seminars, Jan Hus Educational Foundation
Spouse(s)Zdena Holubova (m. 1962)
Doina Cornell (m. 1999)
ChildrenThree sons, one daughter
RelativesMichaela Marksová-Tominová (niece)

Early life and educationEdit

Tomin studied English and Russian in Czechoslovakia. Agreeing with Tolstoy's and Gandhi's views on non-violence, he refused to do military service, for which he served a prison sentence. He then tried to leave the country for Sweden, but was caught and served an additional year. When released, he took a job as a forester, then worked as a ward assistant in a psychiatric hospital, where he met his first wife, a therapist. They were married in 1962.[2]

Interested in philosophy, Tomin wrote to Milan Machovec of Charles University, Prague, who arranged for him to register for a doctorate. He obtained his PhD and worked as a junior fellow in the university's philosophy department from 1966 to 1970.[2]

Teaching and activismEdit

In 1969–1970 Tomin was a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii. Barbara Day writes that he was refused an academic position when he returned to Czechoslovakia, after associating himself with the reform Communists. He worked instead as a turbine operator, but according to Day he was sacked when he was discovered teaching philosophy to his colleagues. He then worked as a nightwatchman in a zoo.[2]

In December 1976, he became a signatory to Charter 77, which made him a further target of suspicion. The following year, he began holding philosophy seminars in his apartment.[3] After asking for academic support for his seminars in 1978 from universities in England, Germany, and the United States, philosophers from the University of Oxford set up the Jan Hus Educational Foundation to help send books and speakers. Several of the philosophers who attended these home seminars, including Jacques Derrida, were detained by the police and asked to leave the country.[4][5][6]

Tomin travelled with his family to the UK in August 1980, with the help of Kathy Wilkes, an Oxford philosopher, after receiving permission to study abroad. In May 1981 his Czech passport was removed by the Czech Embassy in London, and he was told that he and his wife no longer had Czech citizenship.[7] As of 2011 he was still a British resident.[8]

His niece is Michaela Marksová-Tominová, current minister of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic.[9]

Selected worksEdit

  • "Inside the Security State," New Statesman, 7 March 1980.
  • "Socratic Midwifery", '"The Classical Quarterly, 37(1), 1987. JSTOR 639347


  1. ^ Day, Barbara. The Velvet Philosophers. The Claridge Press, 1999, p. 18ff.
  2. ^ a b c Day 1999, pp. 18–19.
  3. ^ Pilger, John. Heroes. South End Press, 2002, p. 468.
  4. ^ Hills, Nicholas. "Oxford dons battle Czech secret police", The Montreal Gazette, 4 June 1980, p. 77.
  5. ^ "Newton-Smith wants formal protest", Associated Press, 12 March 1980.
  6. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey. "Living in the fast lane", Times Higher Education, 1 December 1995.
  7. ^ Pilger 2002, p. 472.
  8. ^ "Brief biography",, accessed April 19, 2011.
  9. ^ "M.Marksová-Tominová pro magazín MF Dnes: Chci, aby lidé měli rovné šance".

Further readingEdit