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Barbara Skarga in Memoriam


Magdalena Sroda and Jacek Migasinski

This volume is dedicated to Barbara Skarga – her works, profile and biography. It is a unique character in the Polish intellectual life, but also virtually unknown abroad, except a meager milieu of her readership in France. Dubbed «the first Lady of Polish Philosophy» for a good reason, she contributed not only to shape of Polish Philosophy but to the style of public debate, too. The problem areas initiating her philosophy stemmed from the group of scholars called «the Warsaw school of history of Ideas» with its flagship names such as Leszek Kołakowski, Brinisław Baczko or Andrzej Walicki. On the other hand, her output originates from the extraordinary and dramatic events of her life. The philosophical output of Barbara Skarga is thus a proof of continuity and longevity of an important tradition of the 20 th century Polish Philosophy.


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Barbara Skarga: selected writings I. Positivism and its problems


Warsaw Positivism There are two phases in Polish Positivism. The first is the Warsaw variety of the Sturm und Drang sort of ideological expansion with its flagship papers being Przegl d Tygo- dniowy and Niwa. It lasted for only a short time—until 1876. The first “young press” debates with the “old press” date back to 1869. The second phase—more critical and philosophical—can be called, in opposition to the former, one of “reflection.” The qu- ality of the philosophical work grew remarkably, the specialist literature appeared. The number of people working in the field of philosophy was increasing. Those people tended to look down on the publicist work of the previous decade. “The days of he- avenly innocence were gone for philosophy, days when whoever proclaimed themse- lves to be a person of common sense ventured into the jungle. Today, it is a specialist field which demands some minimum of specialist knowledge of its pursuers.”1 This pointed opinion forms the basis for the description of Positivism at its first stage of development. It was a philosophizing politics with ideological objectives ra- ther than a philosophy. “Young” Positivists set out to reconstruct social consciousness and felt themselves to be reformers rather than theorists. Their campaign, broad in scope and remarkably successful, was all the more valuable that in itself it was far from an attempt at imposing any single doctrine. Its objective was to free minds from superstition and doctrinal narrow-mindedness. The fight was against restricting criti- cism...

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