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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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Marek J. Siemek LAUDATIO ON THE RENEWAL OF LESZEK KOŁAKOWSKI’S PH.D. AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WARSAW Norwid’s poem, In a Diary, features a speaker who, looking at himself in the mirror of time, realizes that what he used to think of as his is in fact merely bor- rowed from his ancestors and tradition. 15 From you, as from burning chips of resin Fiery fragments circle far and near: Ablaze, you don’t know if you are to be free. Or if all that is yours will disappear. 16 Will only ashes remain and confusion Whirling into the void?—or will there shine Amidst the ash a starlight diamond, The dawning of eternal victory! Cyprian Kamil Norwid, W pamiętniku […]: 15, 16 Your Magnificence, Mr. Dean, Dear Professor, Our eminent Laureate hardly needs introducing to the here-gathered members of our University community, government representatives and delegates from other Warsaw academic schools. We all are well aware that professor Kołakowski is one of the most eminent personages in the 20th-century Polish philosophy and humanities, a fact also mentioned by his honourable reviewers: professor Barbara Skarga, professor Jan Andrzej Kłoczowski and professor Krzysztof Michalski. Let us mention here the most important and most prestigious of the many distinctions awarded to professor Kołakowski: first and foremost the John Kluge Prize, a unique humanities “Nobel Prize” awarded since recently by the US Congress Library, whose first laureate he was. Also noteworthy are the coveted German Booksellers’ Peace Prize, the European Essay...

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