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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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Jerzy Szacki LESZEK KOŁAKOWSKI (1927–2009): REMEMBRANCES AND SOME COMMENTS ABSTRACT Author tells the story of his close and very long-lasting acquaintance with Leszek Kołakowski as well as commentates on his intellectual biography and achievements as political and literary essayist, philosopher, historian of ideas, and public figure. In particular, he describes in details the first half of Kołakowski’s life, namely the period when he made his long journey from being communist in his student years to becoming as a young scholar the leading figure of Marxist revisionism in the late fifties and, after a time, a principled critic of Marxism itself and a fer- vent anti-communist. In many respects, Kołakowski’s itinerary was not exceptional but it had at least two note- worthy characteristics. First, in opposition to quite a few other cases, his way away from com- munism turned out to be scholarly fruitful as it resulted in an uniquely in-depth historical re- search, covering the founders, the golden age and the breakdown of so called “scientific social- ism” (his voluminous work Main Currents of Marxism remains one of the best and the most comprehensive monographs of the topic). Second, Kołakowski’s abandoning of his former Weltanschauung was followed by his discovery of religion as an extremely important part of human experience and sine qua non condition of the survival of civilization, permanently menaced by barbarians. However, it is to be doubt whether he may be considered as a convert or a religious thinker in the...

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