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Barbara Skarga in Memoriam

Series:

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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V. Reflections on culture

Extract

European Culture and Its Imperatives “Any spirit of exclusivity is the most harmful, the most chronic enemy of civilization. From the beginning of society until its ultimate perfection, it has been and will be its biggest obstacle. It grows in turmoil, wars, and chaos to the public detriment whereas once found in order, peace, and concord, it promptly gets corrupt and dies. It is the sole creator of the Middle Ages—the barbarous period. As in those times, the spirit of exclusive right to land, of birth, honor, nobility, and supersti- tious beliefs, so in subsequent fate of civilization, when the ghosts begin to weaken and decline, it will rise and emerge in the exclusivity of trade. This will be the most prolonged disorder of Europe, pushing it from war to war, only to break the union of nations and destroy its alliances. It will stand up against the development of the ultimate principle of civilizations—against lasting peace and Eu- ropean unification.”1 Stanisaw Staszic wrote these words in his treatise The Human Kind. In the present day, we view the Middle Ages in a different light and no longer be- lieve it to be a barbarous period. But that was a common opinion in the Enlightenment period. Neither do we view trade in such threat terms. Even so, I do stress the words by Staszic, for they contain an immensely important thought which, though two centu- ries old, has not lost any value today. He is a critic...

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