Born in Radom in 1927, Kołakowski was the outstanding Polish philosopher. He lived in exile since 1968 and was a Fellow of All Souls College at Oxford. He died on July 17, 2009.
An outstanding Polish philosopher. He lived in exile since 1968 and was a Fellow of All Souls College at Oxford.
His primary interest was the history of philosophy, especially since the eighteenth century liberalism, the philosophy of culture, and the philosophy of religion. Aside from philosophical texts, Kołakowski wrote literary works. These, however, are closely associated with the author's professional concerns, and would have to be classed as philosophical tales (Thirteen Tales from the Kingdom of Lailonia and Conversations with the Devil). In these tales, Kołakowski uses an accessible and attractive literary form to analyze philosophical problems and paradoxes and to present discussions among different philosophical schools and doctrines. These stories are marked by intelligent wit and a mastery of literary conventions and styles, especially in the Biblical tales.
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Kołakowski's books long appeared in Poland in underground editions, playing a prominent role in shaping the Polish intellectual opposition. Especially significant was the essay The Chaplain and the Jester, which analyzed the attitudes of the intelligentsia toward authority. The first text of Kołakowski's to be confiscated by the censor - and, subsequently, the first to begin to function underground - was the 1956 manifesto "What is Socialism?", which he wrote for "Po prostu" magazine. In 1996, Leszek Kołakowski recorded ten short lectures on issues in the philosophy of culture (on authority, tolerance, betrayal, equality, fame, and falsehood, among others) for Polish Television. These were then published in book form as Mini-Lectures on Maxi-Issues.
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Source: www.polska2000.pl; copyright: Stowarzyszenie Willa Decjusza, 2001.
contemporary polish philosophers
- Sketches on Catholic Philosophy. Warsaw: PWN, 1955.
- The Key to Heaven, Or Moral Tales from Sacred History Chosen for Instruction and Warning. Warsaw: PIW, 1964.
- Ideology and Everyday Life (philosophical essays). Warsaw: PIW, 1957.
- Notes on the Contemporary Counter-Reformation. Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza, 1962.
- Thirteen Tales from the Kingdom of Lailonia for Readers Large and Small. Warsaw: Czytelnik, 1963.
- Culture and Fetish: Collected Articles. Warsaw: PWN, 1967.
- The Presence of Myth. Paris: Instytut Literacki, 1972.
- Main Trends in Marxism. Paris: Instytut Literacki, 1976-1978.
- Eseje (Essays). Warsaw, 1981.
- Religion. If there is no God... On God, the Devil, Sin and Other Worries of the So-called Philosophy of Religion (essays). New York: Oxford UP, 1982.
- Horror Metaphisicum (Metaphysical Horror). Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988.
- In Praise of Inconsistency. Uncollected Writings, 1955-1968. London: Puls, 1989.
- Civilization in the Dock. Warsaw: Res Publica, 1990.
- Mini wykłady o maxi sprawach. Seria druga (Mini-Lectures on Maxi-Issues. Second Series). Krakow: ZNAK, 1999.
- My Correct Views on Everything. Kraków: ZNAK, 1999.
- Great Philosophers and Their Questions, Kraków: Znak, 2004.
- Between Friends, Krakow: Znak, 2004.
- Great Philosophers and Their Questions. Second Series, Kraków: Znak 2005.
- Great Philosophers and Their Questions. Third Series, Kraków: Znak 2006.