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Leszek Kołakowski in Memoriam


Jacek Migasinski

This volume is devoted to the person and work of Leszek Kołakowski, who died in July 2009. At the turn of the 1940s and 1950s, Leszek Kołakowski belonged to a group of young intellectuals actively supporting on the «ideological front» and in the University of Warsaw the new political agendas of Marxist provenance introduced in Poland. But already in 1955-56, he came to the fore of a movement of philosophical revisionists radically questioning the validity of these Marxist prescriptions. This resulted in his expulsion from the Communist Party in the early 1960s, then from the University and finally from Poland after the «March events» in 1968. Presented in this volume are, on the one hand, texts drawing up a historical balance sheet of theoretical achievements of Leszek Kołakowski (articles by Andrzej Walicki and Andrew Targowski), and, on the other, essays devoted to certain aspects of his philosophical position (articles by Marcin Król, Zofia Rosińska, Janusz Dobieszewski, Witold Mackiewicz and Janusz Kuczyński). Also presented in this volume are some occasional essays sketching a portrait of Leszek Kołakowski (by Marek J. Siemek, Karol Toeplitz and Jerzy Szacki). The book is closed with an extensive bibliography.


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Andrew Targowski LESZEK KOŁAKOWSKI IN THE WEST AND IN POLAND (1927–2009) The eminent Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski died on July 17, 2009. A lec- turer in Canada and the US for 41 years and at Oxford University since 1970 fol- lowing his 1968 expulsion from the University of Warsaw, Leszek Kołakowski was living proof that ideas lead to revolution. His ideas (and his students) in- spired the 1980 Solidarity Revolution in Poland in result of which Poland re- gained independence and another Pole, Professor Jerzy Buzek, became Presi- dent of the European Parliament in 2009. This is truly a monumental achieve- ment for one philosopher. Let us recount the facts. In 1957, a year after the Polish October of 1956, the professor of the University of Warsaw, Leszek Kołakowski, published four arti- cles in the Paris-based Polish periodical “Kultura”, in which he analyzed the dogmatism and historical determinism of Soviet Marxism. The fact alone that an intellectual from communist Poland managed to publish his work in “Kultura” was quite a heroic feat in itself. Kołakowski subsequently concluded, that the heinous Stalinist system was no aberration but a logical consequence of Marx- ism, which he outlined in his monumental work Main Currents of Marxism (1976–1978). In 1965, together with Maria Ossowska and Tadeusz Kotarbiński, Koła- kowski authored an expert opinion on the meaning of the notion “information”, which was used in the court defense of Jacek Kuroń and Karol Modzelewski, ac- cused...

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