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Encyclopedia > Leszek Kolakowski
Photograph of Leszek Kolakowski.
Photograph of Leszek Kolakowski.

Leszek Kołakowski (born 23 October 1927 in Radom, Poland) is a the most notable living Polish philosopher. Photograph of Leszek Kolakowski, polish philosopher. ... Photograph of Leszek Kolakowski, polish philosopher. ... October 23 is the 296th day of the year (297th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 69 days remaining. ... 1927 was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... Motto: none Voivodship Masovian Municipal government Rada miejska Radomia Mayor Zdzisław Marcinkowski Area 111,7 km² Population  - city  - urban  - density 228 700 - 2047/km² Founded City rights - - Latitude Longitude 51°24 N 21°10 E Area code +48 48 Car plates WR Twin towns - Municipal Website Radom (pronounce: [radɔm]) is... A philosopher is a person devoted to studying and producing results in philosophy. ...



Due to the German occupation of Poland during World War II he did not attend school, but read books with occasional private lessons, and took his final exams as an external student in the underground school system. He eventually studied philosophy in Łódź and earned his doctorate from Warsaw University in 1953, later becoming a professor and chairman of its section on the history of philosophy (1959-1968). Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km (over 11 miles) into the air. ... . Łódź (pronunciation: ) is the second-largest city (population 776,297 in 2004) of Poland, located in the centre of the country. ... Warsaw University (Polish Uniwersytet Warszawski) - the biggest and one of the most prestigious universities in Poland. ... 1953 is a common year starting on Thursday. ... 1959 was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1968 was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1968 calendar). ...

An orthodox Marxist at first, he was sent by the party in 1950 to Moscow on a course for promising communist intellectuals. It was there that he initially became aware of, as he put it himself, "the enormity of material and spiritual desolation caused by the Stalinist system." Marxism is the political practice and social theory based on the works of Karl Marx, a 19th century philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary, along with Friedrich Engels. ... 1950 was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... Moscow (Russian/Cyrillic: Москва́, pronunciation: Moskvá) is the capital of Russia, located on the river Moskva, and encompassing 1097. ... Communism - Wikipedia /**/ @import /skins/monobook/IE50Fixes. ... Stalinism is a brand of political theory, and the political and economic system implemented by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union. ...

Stalin's death in 1953 had the effect of splitting the party ranks with some calling for democratization. Many deaths resulted from the June 1956 worker's riots in Poznań. In October of that year, the communist party of Poland chose Władysław Gomułka as its leader, despite Moscow's objections. By then, Kołakowski had become one of Poland's leading revisionist Marxists. His publication of What Is Socialism? - a short, concisive critique of Stalinism - was banned in Poland, but circulated privately and translated into English the next year. 1953 is a common year starting on Thursday. ... June is the sixth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of four with the length of 30 days. ... 1956 was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... October is the tenth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with the length of 31 days. ... The title given to this article is incorrect due to technical limitations. ...

Disillusioned with the stagnation of communism, he became increasingly outspoken. He was expelled from the party in 1966, dismissed from his professorship two years later, and went into exile. But his works, appearing in underground editions, continued to shape the opinions of the Polish intellectual oppositionists. His essay Theses on Hope and Hopelessness, which appeared in 1971 the Polish-language journal published in Paris Kultura, proposed an evolutionary strategy designed to weaken the system. The concept of this work inspired the activities of the Committee for the Defense of Workers and the Flying University, of which Kołakowski was a foreign member. 1966 was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ...

Kołakowski left Poland and became a visiting professor at the department of philosophy at McGill University in 1968. In 1969 he moved to the University of California at Berkeley. In 1970, he became a senior research fellow at All Souls College at the Oxford. He has remained at Oxford ever since, but did spend part of 1974 at Yale, and from 1981 to 1994 was a part-time professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the department of philosophy at the University of Chicago. McGill University is a publicly funded, research-intensive, non-denominational, co-educational university located in the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. ... 1968 was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1968 calendar). ... The University of California (UC) is a public university system within the State of California. ... Berkeley is the name of several places, all eventually deriving from Berkeley Castle in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, from whom the noble family of Berkeley derive their name, and for which several vessels of the British navy have been christened HMS Berkeley Castle. Any of the holders of several titles in the... All Souls College (in full: The College of All Souls of the Faithful Departed, of Oxford) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. ... The University of Oxford, located in the city of Oxford in England, is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. ... This article is about the institution of higher learning in the United States. ... The Committee on Social Thought, one of several PhD-granting committees at the University of Chicago, was started in 1941 by the historian John U. Nef along with economist Frank Knight, anthropologist Robert Redfield, and University President Robert Maynard Hutchins. ... The University of Chicago is a private co-educational university located in Chicago, Illinois. ...


Kołakowski's books appeared in Poland for a long time in underground editions, playing a prominent role in shaping the Polish intellectual opposition. He continues to write both in Polish and English.

Selected works

  • Szkice o filozofii katolickiej, 1955
  • Światopoglśd i życie codzienne, 1957
  • Klucz niebieski, albo opowieści budujące z historii świętej zebrane ku pouczeniu i przestrodze (The Key to Heaven), 1957
  • Jednostka i nieskończonść: Wolność i antynomie wolności w filozofii Spinozy, 1958
  • Der Mensch ohne Alternative, 1960
  • Wygnanie z raju, 1961
  • 13 bajek z królestwa Lailonii dla dużych i małych (Tales from the Kingdom of Lailonia and the Key to Heaven), 1963
  • Rozmowy z diablem (US title: Conversations with the Devil / UK title: Talk of the Devil), 1965
  • Od Hume'a do Koła Wiedeńskiego (The Alienation of Reason, translated by Norbert Guterman), 1966
  • Kultura i fetysze (Toward a Marxist Humanism, translated by Jane Zielonko Peel, and Marxism and Beyond), 1967
  • Traktat über die Sterblichkeit der Vernuft, 1967
  • Chrétiens sans église, 1968 (originally published in Polish in 1958)
  • A Leszek Kołakowski Reader, 1971
  • Positivist Philosophy, 1971
  • TriQuartely 22, 1971
  • Obecnosc mitu (The Presence of Myth), 1972
  • ed. The Socialist Idea, 1974 (with Stuart Hampshire)
  • Husserl and the Search for Certitude, 1975
  • Glowne nurty marksizmu (Main Currents in Marxism), 1976 (3 vols.)
  • Czy diabeł może być zbawiony i 27 innych kazań, 1982
  • Religion: If There Is No God, 1982
  • Bergson, 1985
  • Le Village ibtrouvable, 1986
  • Metaphysical Horror, 1988
  • Pochwala niekonsekwencji, 1989 (ed. by Zbigniew Menzel)
  • Cywilizacja na ławie oskarżonych, 1990 (ed. by Paweł Kłoczowski)
  • Modernity on Endless Trial, 1990
  • God Owes Us Nothing: A Brief Remark on Pascal's Religion and on the Spirit of Jansenism, 1995
  • Freedom, Fame, Lying, and Betrayal: Essays on Everyday Life, 1999
  • Two Eyes of Spinoza and Other Essays on Philosophers, 2002


Kolakowski has been a fellow of scholarly societies in many countries and has received numerous academic honors and awards. Lately, in 2003, the Library of Congress awarded him the first one million dollar Kluge Prize.

  • Jurzykowski Prize (1969)
  • Friedenpreis des Deutschen Buchhandels (1977)
  • Prix Européen d’Essai (1981)
  • Praemium Erasmianum (1982)
  • McArthur Fellowship(1983)
  • Jefferson Award (1986)
  • Award of the Polish Pen Club (1988)
  • Prix Tocqueville (1993)
  • Premio Nonino (1997)
  • Kluge Prize of the Library of Congress

The John W. Kluge Prize in the Human Sciences will be awarded for lifetime achievement in the humanistic and social sciences to celebrate the importance of the Intellectual Arts for the public interest. ... Library of Congress, Jefferson building The Library of Congress is the unofficial national library of the United States. ...

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Leszek Kolakowski (1483 words)
Leszek Kolakowski was born in Radom as the son of Jerzy Kolakowski, a publicist, and the former Lucyna Pietrusiewicz.
Kolakowski was head of the section of the history of modern philosophy at the University of Warsaw from 1959 to 1968 and professor of modern philosophy from 1964 until 1968.
'Leszek Kolakowski's misinterpretation of Marxism' by Waclaw Mejbaum and Aleksandra Zukrowska, in
Online NewsHour: Prize Winner -- November 5, 2003 (627 words)
Leszek Kolakowski, an anti-Communist Polish philosopher at Oxford University in England, was awarded the first $1 million John W. Kluge prize for lifetime achievement in the humanities.
LESZEK KOLAKOWSKI: Obviously when one lives for a long time in the atmosphere of violence, lawlessness, and danger like we all lived under the German occupation, inevitably one asks oneself whether or not another world is possible.
LESZEK KOLAKOWSKI: The decisive factor in the collapse of communism was the collapse of ideology.
  More results at FactBites »



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