Polish Philosophy

Polish philosophy, collective term for the philosophical theories and systems that began in the 13th century.

Many thinkers received their training at Italian universities (in the 15th century also in Prague and Vienna); they wrote their works in Latin. Up to the 18th century the scholasticism of the influential Jesuit order was formative. In the 19th century, an Aristotelian-Stoic Renaissance philosophy and the Reformation movement of the Polish Brothers (Socinians) also made themselves felt. Influences of the French Enlightenment came into their own in the second half of the 18th century: Antoni Wiśniewski (* 1718, † 1774), Jan Śniadecki (* 1756, † 1830); H. Kołłątaj and S. Staszic introduced comprehensive school reforms; Józef Kalasanty Szaniawski (* 1764, † 1843) spread the philosophy of I. Kant.

Under the influence of the Polish partitions, a strong romantic-idealistic national philosophy developed at the beginning of the 19th century. GWF Hegel represented the main point of repulsion of Polish philosophy. His panlogism and his philosophy of history, which seemed to legitimize the political status quo, were rejected in view of the lack of Polish statehood; one wanted to see history less the Hegelian “world spirit” than the single, responsible individual as the most important actor. The Schelling student J. Gołuchowski In his work, “Philosophy in its relationship to the life of whole peoples and individual people” (1822), written in German, philosophy became the most important medium of national self-consciousness. J. M. Hoene-Wroński coined the term Polish messianism – but not in the mystical sense that A. Mickiewicz later gave it. JM Hoene-Wroński insisted on the rationality of his philosophical conception of the world. While he defined France as the nation of action and Germany as the nation of speculation, according to a2zgov, Poland, as the “messiah of the peoples”, was supposed to promote the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. A. Cieszkowski developed in his “Prolegomena zur Historiosophie” (1838) a “philosophy of action” which exerted an important influence on A. Herzen, for example. Against GWF Hegel, he argued that the philosophy of history should not stop at the present, but should also take the future into account. In “Gott und Palingenesie” (1842) A. Cieszkowski assumed that the acting person would be reborn in an ever more perfect form and thus fulfill a divine plan of salvation. Also Bronisław Ferdinand Trentowski (* 1808, † 1869) was assumed that God save the people in heaven as well as the person God on earth. Karol Libelt (* 1807, † 1875) contrasted the Hegelian “autocracy of reason” with a Slavic “philosophy of the imagination”.

Henryk Kamieński (* 1813, † 1865) gave Polish philosophy a practical twist and published a »Philosophy of the Material Economy of Society« from 1843–45. H. Kamieński turned against the romantic exaltation of the Polish revolutionaries and in his main political work “On the Vital Truths of the Polish Nation” (1844) called for a profound democratization of society. Before he died during the Galician uprising against Austria (Galicia), Edward Dembowski (* 1822, † 1846) published some philosophical works on the conceptualization of the Polish nation. He saw this embodied primarily in the peasantry. After the suppression of the January uprising in 1863 (Poland, history) the romantic drafts of a “philosophy of action” also dissolved.

Under the influence of A. Comte, a scientistic and socially committed positivism developed in Poland. Other influences came from H. Spencer and JS Mill, who play an important role in A. Świętochowski’s concept of “organic work”. Julian Ochorowicz (* 1850, † 1917) founded a scientific psychology on a physiological basis, which was expanded sociologically by Eward Abramowski (* 1868, † 1918). The Neo-Kantian FW Znaniecki developed his own theory of value in which people do not experience their social reality passively, but add value to it. The positivism of the late 19th century culminated in the so-called Lemberg-Warschauer Schule (Warsaw School) by K. Twardowski in the 20th century. K. Twardowski had studied with F. Brentano in Vienna. He opposed a psychologistic interpretation of human consciousness and advocated an analytical philosophy that should obey the laws of science. Following K. Twardowski, J. Łukasiewicz and A. Tarski developed a multi-valued logic that they brought into a formalized language. T. Kotarbiński, also a student of K. Twardowski, advocated a radical “riceism” that only recognized concrete objects, not abstract concepts and relations. Also R. Ingarden had first with K. Twardowski studied before moving to Göttingen in E. Husserl doctorate. R. Ingarden is considered to be the most important representative of phenomenology in Poland; his aesthetic conceptions (“The literary work of art”, 1931) had a lasting influence on Western literary studies (Konstanz School).

After the Second World War, the regime wanted to commit academic philosophy to Marxism, but with the exception of Ludwik Krzywicki (* 1859, † 1941) there was hardly any Marxist tradition in Poland. A. Schaff and L. Kołakowski soon broke away from the rigid Soviet ideology and called for a “revision of Marxism” in the direction of democracy and humanism in the liberal Gomułka era. Another renewal movement came from the so-called Poznan School, which wanted to reconcile Marxism with the scientism of the Lviv-Warsaw School. Ludwik Fleck (* 1896, † 1961) polemicized against this purely logical orientation and formulated a sociology of knowledge on the basis of his key concepts “thinking collective” and “thinking style”, which had a lasting influence on TS Kuhn’s work “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962). In contemporary Polish philosophy, three main currents can be distinguished: Lublin Neuthomism, the continuation of analytical philosophy in the tradition of the Lemberg-Warsaw School, and political philosophy, which aims at a new theoretical foundation of liberalism in Poland.

Polish Philosophy