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  Main Works

  Selected Bibliography

 Documentation on Abramowski and Other Links




Abramowski was one of the most significant representatives of Socialist thought in Poland. Trained as a sociologist, he was interested in the links between variations in production structures and the corresponding changes in the individual psyche, which led to the formation of a "new collective soul". Later on he resumed an interest in psychological research, which he saw as constituting the foundation of sociology and the philosophical basis for reform of the Marxist system. In gnoseology, Abramowski traces all human knowledge back to the world of phenomena, whose only characteristic is that of being "the object of our thought". Transferring this Kantian approach to the study of society, Abramowski viewed social phenomena, insofar as they are objects of thought, as comprising two complementary and inseparable aspects: the material and the psychological. He called this theory "sociological phenomenalism". On the basis of this dialectic interrelation between the psyche and matter Abramowski put forward his interpretation of Socialism, in which a fundamental role is played by the moral education of workers; he was convinced that a new social order could not be created unless it was transformed into the needs and sentiments of humankind, into a new ethics - unless, that is, a "moral revolution" occurs. Vice versa, there could in his opinion be no new brotherhood amongst men unless it were embodied in concrete social institutions rather than mere words. The co-operative movement, not only an institution but also an occasion for self-education in the ways of democracy and co-operation, was to be the most suitable tool by which to introduce a new social order.


Leaving his native town of Stefanin, Ukraine, for Warsaw , Abramowski became acquainted with positivist literature (reading Darwin, Spencer, Taine and Marx) and soon had his first contact with the organised proletariat. At the University of Cracow in 1885, he joined the Socialist movement, founding students' organisations and circulating clandestine foreign literature. After a year he abandoned his studies in natural sciences and left for Geneva, where he devoted himself to the humanities and came into contact with the Socialist exiles, becoming increasingly committed to the organisation of the workers' movement. With this purpose in mind he returned to Poland, where he tried to reorganise the "Proletariat" party (second phase) and went into journalism, divulging his ideas on scientific Socialism. Abroad again in 1892, he published the Principles of the Programme of the Polish Socialist Workers' Party (PPRS), where he took an internationalistic stand according to which the social and economic liberation of the workers' movement could only be brought about by collaboration between the Russian and Polish proletariat. A stay in Geneva in 1894 marked a turning point in his life: from that moment on he was no longer actively involved in politics but devoted himself to scientific research. Back in Poland in 1897, he wrote his most important sociological and political works, developing his concept of a "stateless Socialism" in which he stresses the importance for a new Socialist society of conscience and a moral revolution. His thought tended increasingly towards an anarcho-syndacalist position in politics, emphasising the importance of co-operative organisation of the masses. Abramowski is, in fact, considered the founder of the Polish co-operative movement, which he tried to set up by promoting economic associations and initiatives. Alongside this politico-social theorising, he also conducted an intense research activity in the field of experimental psychology, showing particular interest in the subconscious. This gave him a certain notoriety abroad (several articles were written in French and published in international journals) and in 1916 he was given a chair in Experimental Psychology at the University of Warsaw, which he occupied until his death.

Main works

- Pisma (Works), Warszawa, 1924-1928, 4 voll.
- Filozofia spoleczna. Wibór pism (Social Philosophy. Selected Writings), Warszawa, 1965.
-L'analyse physiologique de la perception, Paris, 1911.
- Le subcoscient normal. Nouvelles recherches expérimentales, Paris, 1914.

Selected Bibliography

- B. Urbankowski, Dialectics of psychology and sociology in the social thought of E. Abramowski, "Dial. and Human.", 1 (1981), pp. 161-186;
- A. Flis, E. Abramowski's social and political thought, in Masters of Polish Sociology, ed. P. Sztompka, Wroclaw, 1984, pp. 27-52.
- I. Dehnel, The concept of unconsciousness in Edward Abramowski's psychological works, "Ruch Filozoficzny", 2 (1995), pp. 221-4.

Documentation on Abramowski & Other Links

Abramowski's Letters to Kazimierz Twardowski

A Short History of Polish Anarchism

A paper by Jacek Sierpinski (in Polish), "Edward Abramowski - Wolnosciowy Kooperatysta"



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