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Mieczysław A. Krąpiec

Mieczysław Albert Krąpiec – a Polish priest, Dominican, philosopher, theologian, humanist and outstanding teacher who influenced generations of philosophers. He was definitely one of the greatest Polish philosophers, which is confirmed by his numerous accomplishments, and especially by the first Polish 10-volume “Powszechna encyklopedia filozofii” [Universal Encyclopaedia of Philosophy] – his crowning achievement.

He was born on 25 May 1921 in Berezowica Mała in the Podole region, and died on 8 May 2008 in Lublin. In 1939 he completed the Wincenty Pol Classical Secondary School in Tarnopol and joined the Dominican Order in Krakow. During the German occupation he studied at the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Krakow. In 1945 he was ordained priest and took up studies at the Faculty of Theology of KUL (Catholic University of Lublin). In 1946–1954 he was a lecturer at the Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Krakow. He wrote his philosophical doctoral thesis entitled “De naturali amore Dei super omnia in creaturis (‘O miłości przyrodzonej nade wszystko względem Boga’) [On Innate Love for God in Particular]” under the supervision of Rev. Jacek Woroniecki OP. It was approved by St Thomas University “Angelicum” in Rome in 1946. His theological doctoral thesis, which was written under the supervision of Rev. Antoni Słomkowski and defended at KUL in 1948, was entitled “De amore hypostatico in Sanctissima Trinitate secundum St. Thomam Aquinatem” (‘O miłości osobowej w Trójcy Świętej według św. Tomasza z Akwinu’) [On Personal Love in the Holy Trinity according to St Thomas Aquinas]. The qualification for his postdoctoral degree based on the dissertation “Egzystencjalne podstawy transcendentalnej analogii bytu” [Existential Bases for the Transcendental Analogy of Being] started at the philosophical section of the Faculty of Theology of the Warsaw University (UW) in 1951, and, after closing the university by communist authorities, it was completed at the Faculty of Christian Philosophy of KUL in 1956. He obtained the title of the docent in 1956, the associate professor – in 1962, and the full professor – in 1968.

From 1951 Mieczysław A. Krąpiec was related to KUL as an employee of the Faculty of Philosophy where he started giving lectures on metaphysics. Twice he performed the function of the dean of the Faculty of Christian Philosophy at KUL (1958–1961, 1969–1970). Between 1970–1983 he was selected to be the university rector for five consecutive terms. As a rector, for 13 years he developed scientific and administrative structures, as well as the material basis of the Catholic University of Lublin. He intensified the work on “Encyklopedia katolicka” [The Catholic Encyclopaedia] forming the Interdepartmental Office of Lexicography, and he was the president of the editorial staff of The Catholic Encyclopaedia. He reactivated the section of French philology (1972), the section of English philology (1982), the Faculty of Social Sciences with the sections: psychology, pedagogy, sociology (1982), and the sections of law at the Faculty of Canon Law and Legal Sciences (1982). This way he contributed to scientific development and renovation of KUL which, at that time, was the only non-state university in the group of communist countries. Through his numerous travels he promoted KUL in Poland and other countries, and he searched for financial resources for the development of the material basis of KUL. Foreign travels inspired him to establish the School of Polish Culture and Language at KUL and to create the Office for Pastoral Ministry and Migration of the Polish Diaspora (1972). As a result of such actions Krąpiec reinforced KUL connecting it with foreign universities.

Rev. prof. Mieczysław A. Krąpiec was the main founder of the Lublin Philosophical School which, at the time of the communist Polish People’s Republic, was the only centre of free philosophical and humanist thought, working for the good of the Polish culture and humane sciences during the time when Marxist ideology destroyed people’s minds. At present, the school is one of few world’s centres of realistic philosophy. Krąpiec elaborated a consistent philosophical system that explains the whole reality available to human cognition. His philosophy is the largest achievement within the scope of realistic and wisdom classical philosophy in Poland and in the world in the 20th century, and his numerous followers today form scientific environment that develop the realistic way of philosophising. His crowning achievement of scientific life was initiating the work on “Powszechna encyklopedia filozofii” [Universal Encyclopaedia of Philosophy], leading its Scientific Committee and inviting several dozens of Polish and foreign scientists to participate in creating it. The result of this initiative was writing and publishing the first in Poland, 10-volume Universal Encyclopaedia of Philosophy dedicated to John Paul II.

In 1989 the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, which belongs to the University of Toronto, granted Rev. Krąpiec a honorary doctor’s degree, and a year later the same title was given to him by the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium). The Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw), the Polish Academy of Learning (Krakow), as well as the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas (Rome) and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (Salzburg) asked him to be their member. In 1981 he was awarded the Gold Medal for the Development of Culture related to the Salsomaggiore International Prize. In 1977 the Belgian government conferred him the Great Officer’s Order of Leopold II; in 1984 the French authorities honoured him with the Commander’s Order of Academic Palms, and the Polish government honoured him with the Commander’s Order of Polonia Restituta with Star. The World’s Cultural Council (UNESCO) conferred Krąpiec the title of “the Professor of the Year 1988.” And the International Biographical Centre (Great Britain) and the American Biographical Institute conferred him the title of the “Man of the Year 1991/92.”