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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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Zofia Rosińska ILLUMINATING LIFE. LESZEK KOŁAKOWSKI’S PHILOSOPHY OF CULTURE ABSTRACT In his life and work, Leszek Kołakowski traversed many paths, some more and some less well- known. The main focus here is on Kołakowski’s involvement in what one may call an anthro- pological variant of philosophy of culture. Anthropological philosophy of culture bases on the following assumptions: 1. Human conduct is determined by culture. There is neither humanity without culture nor culture without humans. 2. Human conduct is by nature referential, in other words, the factual alone is not enough for humans who tend to reach beyond it in their search for the most elemental and ultimate truths. 3. Culture is a dynamic phenomenon and a challenge on the path to self-awareness. 4. Axiological sensitivity. 5. The culture philosopher is immersed in the culture he studies and, by revealing that which it conceals, is a source of reflection on this culture. All these assumptions lie at the core of the philosophy of Leszek Kołakowski. Keywords: culture; philosophy; illumination; comprehension; self-contestation. My intention in the present essay is to underscore those traits in Leszek Koła- kowski’s work that can be considered to belong to the sphere of philosophy of culture. In his short essay Philosophy of Culture as Primary Philosophy, Andrzej Sza- haj wrote: “Reflection on culture constitutes one of the most interesting traits of the Polish tradition in humanistic study” and then “our cultural identity calls for constant reflection on culture, both in the...

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