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About the project

Historical background and context of the project

Historical background

The presented research project refers to the Polish Christian philosophy in the 20th century. Understanding its specific features and meaning is impossible without considering the basic historical and political background in which it functioned – especially in the second half of the previous century.

The 20th century was a period of a difficult trial, not only for Poland. Apart from regaining independence in 1918, the country experienced two world wars, the Bolshevik revolution, the rise of totalitarian systems, as well as organised forms of homicide linked with enslavement and contempt for human dignity. All those phenomena strongly influenced the Polish, European and world culture. They also affected philosophy. After 1945, when the Soviet Union imposed the totalitarian system on Poland, the political monopoly was accompanied by the worldview monopoly based on the official claims of the Marxist-Leninist philosophy.  

Because of such circumstances, a lot of pre-war university professors could no longer work at their universities. Among such professors were: Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Roman Ingarden, Izydora Dąmbska, Henryk Elzenberg and Tadeusz Kotarbiński. The authorities limited the freedom of scientific research and the contact with the philosophical thought from outside the iron curtain. Polish humanities were in an ideological trap. For several decades university circles were pressed by various forms of the Marxist ideology. In those adverse circumstances, as early as at the end of 1940’s of the 20th century, broadly understood Christian philosophy started to intensely revive. The fact that the country’s authorities isolated the scientific centres in which such philosophy developed made it possible for them to be relatively free from ideological pressure and to maintain autonomy in carrying out their research. Contrary to what is commonly believed, Christian philosophy was not only pursued by clergy, but also by lay people who, within the area of Christian thought, were looking for the ways of cognition and thinking that would be free from the political dogmas. The intellectual resistance of its representatives played a very important role, first in the protection of the Polish national culture throughout the 20th century, then in shaping its Christian image, and finally in its further development.  

In the 20th century Christian philosophy became the ideological binding material necessary for maintaining the continuity of the Polish culture and the link that connected the Polishness with the civilisation heritage of the Western Europe. That is why, during the communist period the authorities tried to persecute, discredit or manipulate such philosophy. It is exactly at that time when the government tried to present it as a way of wishful thinking based on religious beliefs and as an ideological discourse totally incompliant with the contemporary science. All the representatives of the Polish Christian philosophy opposed such approach. The effort in developing such philosophy often became their ethos supported not only by strong faith but also by real patriotism.

 

Christian inspiration

Pursuing Christian philosophy is a historical fact which took place in a specific time and space because of the Revelation that occurred in culture as well as its practical and theoretical consequences. Although the term “Christian philosophy” functions in the books related to that subject, from the methodological point of view it is an ambiguous category. It should be noted that philosophy – just like biology or chemistry – is neither “Christian” nor “non-Christian” – it is simply a science. Its cognitive value is not determined by a specific adjective, but by the way of epistemological valorisation of proclaimed statements. In other words: its value depends on whether it accurately and objectively, in a communicative manner, sticking to its proper aspect, explains the reality in a cognitive and understanding manner. If it does, it deserves attention and analysis, because it is a way of learning the truth about the world. In a subjective sense, Christian tradition, within the context of discovering, provides a philosopher with certain types of problem situations that may be explained (clarified, explicated) with the use of proper terms referred to a selected philosophical system or humane sciences. Finally, one may speak of Christian philosophy in the psychological sense, taking into account the philosopher himself as the one who is a Christian and deals with philosophy. In this sense pursuing Christian philosophy includes existential commitment and may be defined as a way of life supported by the act of religious faith.

From the point of view of philosophy-science one may speak of pursuing philosophy that includes personal commitment. It is because each philosophy is pursued within an “epistemic condition of reference.” In case of Christian philosophy, such condition is religious tradition and a form of life determined by the evangelization mission of Christianity. Its specific feature is sapientiality and the fact that in the context of forming scientific problems it does not avoid noticeable human religiousness, including Christianity. Another feature is being in the centuries-old tradition of the philosophical discourse and using it to obtain what deserves deep explanation the most. Thus, in its essence, such philosophy has always been new and eternal (philosophia perennis), specific and universal.

 

Specific features of the Polish Christian philosophy

Polish Christian philosophy in the 20th century is philosophy sui generis. It was created by great people of the Polish culture and thought who did not treat faith as something that limits or ideologises human cognition and thinking about the world. On the contrary – dealing with philosophy within its context, they adopted the principles of the rational scientific discourse and they usually separated things related to religious faith from what was possible to define through natural cognition. They did this to show the natural human tendency to link what belongs to the area of religion with what flows from the natural order.

Thus, it was not just apologetic and confessional philosophy. It was a living discourse, open to the contemporary intellectual challenges, in which the philosophers expressed their readiness for dialogue, and sometimes for the confrontation with what appeared in culture within the area of social life, science, social norms and political life institutions. In other words, such philosophy permeated the whole personal life of a man and shaped human culture, broadening and ordering the area of scientific knowledge, affecting moral and social life, inspiring art, and deepening people’s religious life.

Such philosophy was created by extraordinary persons whose educational actions and involvement in scientific work found followers within the area of science and gave rise to the creation of philosophical schools connected with the master. The influence of such people and their environments exceeded the boundaries of the Polish culture and became a part of the world’s heritage, which is proven by the example of persons such as Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, Mieczysław Albert Krąpiec or Józef Tischner.

The creators of the Polish Christian philosophy, as well as the environments they shaped, played an important role in maintaining the identity and development of the Polish humanities and broadly understood exact, theological and social sciences. Not only did they influence university life, but they also contributed to the development of the national culture, as well as social and religious life. Also, it is easy to notice the significance of their influence on political changes that took place in Poland and abroad, on the formation of methods and strategies of education and upbringing, on showing the rightness of religious attitudes, on the elaboration of innovative methods of defending human rights, and on preparing and presenting the basic civilisation principles and other rules of public life. Among those people it was certainly John Paul II who played the most important role.

 

Project objective and methodology

The main objective of the project is preserving and deepening the knowledge of the Polish Christian philosophy in Poland and abroad, as well as presenting the role it played in the broadly understood culture, science, economy, politics, art, social life, and religion in the 20th century. In order to achieve this objective, first of all we shall present the monographic study of thoughts of 13 outstanding representatives of such philosophy, acting mainly in the second half of the 20th century, i.e.:

Mieczysław Gogacz, Piotr Lenartowicz, Stanisław Kamiński, Kazimierz Kloskowski, Kazimierz Kłósak, Feliks Koneczny, Mieczysław Albert Krąpiec, Tadeusz Styczeń, Tadeusz Ślipko, Józef Tischner, Karol Wojtyła, Jacek Woroniecki, and Zofia Józefa Zdybicka.

The selection of the representatives of the 20th century Polish Christian philosophy was not easy. The basic criterion was the substantive value of their work and the role they played in shaping the local university environment. It is because in the previous century many of them creatively and uncompromisingly shaped the nature and identity of philosophical and theological faculties. Also, we took into account whether their actions were interdisciplinary and oriented at various fields of knowledge. Thus, we aimed at selecting such thinkers whose work was not only limited to the philosophical discourse but also included humanistic disciplines and even certain aspects of natural, social or theological science. A lot of representatives of the Polish Christian philosophy in a very innovative manner broke traditional barriers that separated the Christian thought from the achievements of the contemporary natural and humanistic sciences, which made their work a part of the interdisciplinary model of the time.  

The list of the philosophers to whom particular volumes will be dedicated was made on the basis of the suggestions from the representatives of those university environments in which the independent Polish Christian philosophy was shaped, especially at the The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw – former Academy of Catholic Theology, The Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow – former The Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow and The Jesuit University Ignatianum in Krakow – former University of Philosophy and Pedagogy in Krakow.

The research methods used in the project are related to the arrangement of the research material according to its objectives. Written texts shall be prepared with the use of standard analytical-hermeneutical methods of analysing and reconstructing philosophical texts. They shall include determining the basic terms and definitions, reconstructing and naming argumentation styles, and discovering hidden meanings within the context of the whole text.

 

Content of volumes

Each volume shall be dedicated to one philosopher, according to the specific key of presenting his or her thought. The following arrangement is suggested: biography and bibliography of a given author, the sources of philosophical inspiration (the influence of school, affiliations, borrowings from other systems), the preferred concept of philosophy, discussed problems and suggested solutions, the lexicon of basic terms, as well as polemics and discussions carried out by the author in Poland and abroad.  

Each volume shall include 6 publisher’s sheets of bilingual (Polish and English) monographic elaboration prepared by a scientific and research team of four people, as well as 4 publisher’s sheets of text excerpts representative of each author:

Volume I. Mieczysław Gogacz

Volume II. Stanisław Kamiński

Volume III. Kazimierz Kloskowski

Volume IV. Kazimierz Kłósak

Volume V. Feliks Koneczny

Volume VI. Mieczysław Albert Krąpiec

Volume VII. Piotr Lenartowicz

Volume VIII. Tadeusz Styczeń

Volume IX. Tadeusz Ślipko

Volume X. Józef Tischner

Volume XI. Karol Wojtyła

Volume XII. Jacek Woroniecki

Volume XIII. Zofia Józefa Zdybicka

as well as The Companion to the Polish Christian Philosophy in the 20th Century (“Przewodnik po polskiej filozofii chrześcijańskiej XX wieku”) (edition and access – digital and paper form) and its English version.

The Companion to the Polish Christian Philosophy in 20th Century (digital and paper form). It shall describe the accomplishments of most Polish Christian philosophers of the 20th century in the most important areas of philosophy, which shall make it possible to present the whole panorama of the analysed philosophical trend. This way we shall partially deal with the problem of the lack of many other authors in this project. The Companion to the Polish Christian Philosophy in 20th Century shall be a compendium – a review of particular areas of philosophy (metaphysics, theory of cognition, logic and science methodology, anthropology, ethics, aesthetics, axiology, philosophy of religion, social philosophy and political philosophy) arranged as per the discussion on the Polish Christian philosophers’ work and their innovative solutions that influenced the shape of the philosophical discourse, both in Poland and abroad. The authors of the project want the presentation of selected Polish philosophers’ thoughts to take into account the context of European philosophy, showing both their uniqueness and their being rooted in the contemporary culture.

 

The importance of the project for culture and knowledge

The importance of the project for the national culture is expressed in the advantages such as: promoting the Polish philosophical and theological thought; providing the interpretation “key” for understanding the Polish Christian philosophy; promoting universities which maintained independence in philosophical work during the period of communism; arranging the thoughts of the masters of Polish humanities according to a clear interpretation key; showing the young generation intellectual, but also moral models of people who, as individuals or group members, were involved in creating the national culture despite adverse political conditions.  

The works of Polish Christian philosophers, just like this project, are of interdisciplinary nature. Thus, not only they are important for philosophy, but they also influence other areas of knowledge or culture. It is because philosophical research is the most universal and basic for all fields of knowledge. In the most general sense, it provides the basic premises for each of the exact sciences (natural and humanistic). It belongs to the external basis of a science giving that science proper justification and showing the boundaries of its cognitive competences.

The project assumes a broad, national and foreign cooperation between universities. It is carried out by the representatives of 16 universities from Poland and other parts of Europe in order to preserve the Polish philosophical heritage of Christian origins. An important element of the results presentation shall be digitalisation of its effects and making them available in the Internet, free of charge, without technical limitations, both in the Polish and English language version.

 

The influence of the project on knowledge development

The main centres in Poland, in which after 1945 Christian philosophy was developing in various forms, were: Krakow, Warsaw and Lublin. Its representatives often taught at various faculties (theological and philosophical), contributing to the creation of their profile, instilling new ideas, facilitating the developmental dynamics of science, and crystallizing new formulas for expressing the contents preserved by the tradition. At the same time, they were open to natural sciences and to the new trends of contemporary philosophy, such as phenomenology, existentialism or philosophical hermeneutics.

Christian philosophy of the 20th century was not monolithic. It had a lot of starting points and solutions to research problems. The same problems were solved in various ways, which often led to interesting discussions in which the barriers of intellectual isolation were broken. Before the Second World War such philosophy was shaped by the traditional Thomism valid in the interwar period, but after the war other versions of Thomism became popular. Such versions included existential, transcendental, Louvain or phenomenological Thomism. The 1908s and 1990s of the previous century deepened the pluralism of the Polish Christian philosophy even more. Openness to the philosophical hermeneutics and the philosophy of dialogue (Józef Tischner) resulted in the creation of new concepts in Christian philosophy which were critical towards traditional formulas and tried to answer the challenges of the contemporary world and man in a new manner.

At the beginning of the years 2000, partial integration of the Polish Christian philosophers’ environment took place. The Catholic University of Lublin started to edit the Universal Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, and then the Encyclopaedia of Polish Philosophy. The Interuniversity Scientific Seminar entitled “Styczeń – Ślipko – Tischner. Christian Inspirations in Ethics,” initiated by the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, led to the integration of the environments of the CSWU in Warsaw, the Jesuit University Ignatianum in Krakow and the Catholic University of Lublin. Later many other Polish universities joined that initiative, e.g. the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń or the University of Silesia in Katowice. Those seminars presented the current state of Christian philosophy and ethics in Poland, and they contributed to the development of the methodological and objective reflection on current problems of that philosophical trend. Its participants paid special attention to the fact that the research should be interdisciplinary.

The dynamics of the Polish Christian philosophy of the 20th century is visible in the relations between its most important representatives. Despite the fact that all those philosophers were associated with Christianity, they were often involved in harsh polemics. In many issues they remained philosophical adversaries and they could not reach a compromise as for their views. Thus, it was a varied and creative environment, which might turn out to be very interesting for researchers from abroad. Some of the selected authors are well known in the philosophical environment, and their thought is still present in the intellectual world. Others are less known and until now their work has been only partially presented. The philosophers whose ideas were described best include Karol Wojtyła, Mieczysław Krąpiec, Józef Tischner, Kazimierz Kłósak, Stanisław Kamiński, Tadeusz Styczeń, and Feliks Koneczny, and the ones whose work is less known include Kazimierz Kloskowski, Piotr Lenartowicz, Zofia Zdybicka, and Mieczysław Gogacz.

Most of the current commentaries on the Polish Christian philosophers has been published in Polish, while serious deficiencies are present in translations of their works and foreign language commentaries. As to the authors included in the project, some of their work and commentaries are available in foreign languages ​​(mainly in English). This apply mainly to Karol Wojtyła, Mieczysław Albert Krąpiec, Feliks Koneczny, and Józef Tischner. In the case of the other authors, substantial deficiencies of foreign language commentaries are present, yet sometimes even the lack of such works in Polish can be noticed. That is why their thought is very little known in Europe and in the world, and if they heritage has been noticed at all, it is only occasionally. English language edition of the volumes resulting this project, as well as the Guidebook..., digitization of collections and their free of cost and technical restrictions distribution, making them available on the Internet and in the scientific databases, will significantly contribute to the reception of the Polish Christian philosophy around the world.

 

Expected results 

 

Volume title

on-line Polish version

on-line English version

printed Polish version

printed English version

Volume I. Mieczysław Gogacz

×

×

 

×

Volume II. Stanisław Kamiński

×

×

 

×

Volume III. Kazimierz Kloskowski 

×

×

 

×

Volume IV. Kazimierz Kłósak

×

×

 

×

Volume V. Feliks Koneczny

×

×

 

×

Volume VI. Mieczysław Albert Krąpiec

×

×

 

×

Volume VII. Piotr Lenartowicz

×

×

 

×

Volume VIII. Tadeusz Styczeń

×

×

 

×

Volume IX. Tadeusz Ślipko

×

×

 

×

Volume X. Józef Tischner

×

×

 

×

Volume XI. Karol Wojtyła

×

×

 

×

Volume XII. Jacek Woroniecki

×

×

 

×

Volume XIII. Zofia Józefa Zdybicka

×

×

 

×

The Companion to the Polish Christian Philosophy in 20th Century

×

×

×

×

 

Project financing

The project is financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education within the framework of the programme "The monuments of Polish philosophical, theological and social thought of the 20th and 21st centuries" (Reg. no. 0033/FIL/2016/90).

 

Publications