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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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Janusz Dobieszewski ON THE CONSOLATION OFFERED BY LESZEK KOŁAKOWSKI’S METAPHYSICAL HORROR ABSTRACT The paper is a critical review of Leszek Kołakowski’s book Metaphysical Horror. According to Kołakowski, the starting-point of METAPHYSICAL horror is the awareness of changeability, tran- sience, contingency and fragility of the world and human existence in face of the overwhelm- ing and abysmal face of Nothingness. According to Kołakowski, the inevitable urge to over- come METAPHYSICAL horror leads to the idea of the Absolute, which can appear in two forms: God and cogito. What underlies the present paper is disagreement with Kołakowski’s perspective of META- PHYSICAL horror that leads to question about reasons for praise for human mortality and hu- man relationship towards Nothingness, reasons for an acceptance of the awaiting existential horror. Keywords: metaphysical horror; horror religious; skepticism; nothingness; the Absolute; cogi- to; mortality. 1. OUTLINE OF THE PROBLEM Horror is usually associated with explicitly negative sensations like “fear”, “anxi- ety”, “repulsion” or “tremor”, however in Latin it could also denote “religious terror” and “esteem”, which are solemn. The adjective horribilis meant “terrible”, “repulsive”, but also “respected” and “astounding”. The verb horreo possessed broad connotations with fear, but also meant “to surround with devout venera- tion”. The Greek orrodeo (to fear) and orrodia (fear, anxiety) lead us (through the initial Ionian arr) to arretos, which is translated as “dangerous” or “terrify- ing” as well as “unsaid”, “inexpressible”, “immeasurable” or “mysterious”, and even “holy”. This ambiguity of horror is not as easily...

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