The Phenomenological Trend

(We reproduce the entry "Poland", by Krystyna Górniak-Kocikowska, from The Encyclopedia of Phenomenology ,
ed. by L. Embree and al., Kluwer, Dordrecht 1997)

This article appears courtesy of Kluwer Academic Publisher


Selected Bibliography

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Polish phenomenology has been shaped by both external circumstances, especially political realities, and by Polish intellectual culture, tradition, and language. Phenomenology as a distinct movement was first introduced to Poland in 1913 by Wladislaw Tatarkiewicz , who later became one of the most prominent Polish historians of philosophy and aesthetics. Roman Ingarden published his first article on phenomenology in 1919.

In 1928, Leopold Blaustein published Husserlowska nauka o akcie, tresci i przedimiocie przedstawienia (Husserl's science of the act, content, and subject of representation). Next to Ingarden, Blaustein was the only significant phenomenologist in Poland before World War Il. He published frequently until 1938. He was silenced and later died during World War II in a Nazi concentration camp. Blaustein, like Ingarden, was connected with Lvov, the birth place of the Lvov-Warsaw school in philosophy and logic. Neither of them, however, commited himself to that school. At that time, they both promoted Edmund Husserl’s version of phenomenology. Ingarden eventually developed his own version. One should notice, however, that the founder of the Lvov-Warsaw school, Kazimierz Twardowski (1866-1938), was, like Husserl, a student of Franz Brentano . Twardowski's theory of objects of thought caused a polemical reaction in Husserl. Roman Ingarden was a student of both Twardowski and Husserl. His option for phenomenology resulted in an outsider's position in Lvov where he lived before World War II.

The years 1939-56 were very unfavorable for Polish intellectual life in general, phenomenology included. First it was the war, and then the changes in the political system followed by years of rigid Communist regime that saw in phenomenology a threat to Marxist ideology. In the early 1950s, Marxism became the only philosophy taught in state universities.

The Communist Party introduced a more friendly policy toward intellectuals in 1956 and there was relative prosperity for Ingarden and a growing interest in phenomenology thereafter. Several articles on phenomenology were published in Polish philosophical journals each year. But the philosophical mainstream in Poland was dominated by disputes between Marxists and non-Marxists (mainly Roman Catholics). Phenomenology never enjoyed a central position. Together with its old adversary, the Lvow-Warsaw school and its descendents, it was rather a "neutral" zone since the 1960s. A phenomenologist or a philosopher of science could also be a Marxist or a Catholic. The ideological approach was a hidden one. What appeared on the surface was an objective, "ideologically neutral," rational investigation. Nevertheless, the frequently taken approach was manifested in the question: what is wrong in this philosophy? rather than: is the statement under scrutiny true?

Roman Ingarden had a group of students and colleagues who continued and developed his tradition of philosophizing (Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka , Maria Golaszewska, Wladyslaw Strózewski, Adam Wegrzecki, and Andrzej Póltawski). Ingarden's views and judgments were crucial to the way most of the younger Polish philosophers (not only his students) approached phenomenology. The main interests of that group of phenomenologists was in Aesthetics, Value Theory, and Philosophical Anthropology.

Another scholar whose philosophy and charismatic personality attracted students to phenomenology was Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul 11). Wojtyla was introduced to phenomenology by his philosophy professor, Roman Ingarden. Next to him, Tadeusz Styczen and Józef Tischner are the most prominent Roman Catholic clergy phenomenologists in Poland. Both can be described as Thomist (or neo-Thomist) personalists, or Thomist phenomenologists. Their main field of interest is ethics, philosophical anthropology, and social and political philosophy. The phenomenology of Styczen and Tischner has been formed in the tradition of Jacques Maritain (1872-1973), the French existentialist, and Scheler, under the heavy influence of Karol Wojtyla. Many young scholars continue this tradition.

In 1967, Karol Martel published the first book on Husserl in Poland after World War II: U podstaw fenomenologii Husserla (At the base of Husserl's phenomenology). This book was for many years an important text for philosophy students interested in phenomenology.

After 1970, when the so-called "normalization" of the political relations between Poland and West Germany took place, Polish authorities no longer objected to research on such prominent German thinkers as Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, and others. Until then, each of those philosophers had been virtually banned from intellectual life in Poland, at least on its official, public level. Nietzsche was seen through the lenses of Gyorgy Lukács, i.e., as being above all the forerunner of Nazism. Heidegger's undoubted links with the Nazi Party had made the appropriateness of not only any affirmative, but even of any neutral, "purely philosophical," study of his philosophy questionable. Jaspers was labeled as an anticommunist. However, after West German chancellor Willy Brandt visited Poland and paid tribute to those killed by the Nazis on Polish soil, the era of "building bridges between West and East" was declared. Polish philosophers, especially those of the younger generation, eagerly tried to catch up with the West and to explore long forbidden terrains. Hence from the early 1970s one can witness in Poland a growing number of publications on German phenomenologists.

The idealism-realism controversy between Ingarden and Husserl doubtlessly contributed to a great popularity of Edmund Husserl in Poland. The interest in his philosophy was to a certain degree a result of interest in Ingarden. Husserl's works are the works most frequently discussed by Polish philosophers interested in phenomenology.

Polish phenomenologists from the generation of Ingarden's students are more or less "Ingardenists." This resulted from the authority of Ingarden and from significant inaccessibility of foreign books in Poland. With the exception of Ingarden, all great phenomenologists of the "classical" period of this movement were non Polish. Even Ingarden wrote some of his works originally in German. In some cases, it was years until these were translated into Polish.

For the above reasons and also because of the high position of history as a discipline in Poland, many of the post-World War II works on phenomenology (especially those written before the 1980s) belong to the field of the history of philosophy.

Since many original works were inaccessible, the way in which the views of a foreign philosopher were presented to Polish readers affected their opinion of that philosopher. Therefore, some scholars who are not really phenomenologists are very important for phenomenology in Poland. This is especially true in the case of Leszek Kolakowski . Because of the importance of Kolakowski's own original works, and because of his influence on the present young generation of Polish philosophers, which is greater than that of Ingarden, Kolakowski's opinions about Husserl, Henri Bergson, etc., have great weight. Many young Polish philosophers-to-be became interested in Husserl because Kolakowski wrote about him. Kolakowski treats phenomenology first and foremost as part of the history of European philosophy, i.e., as being a search for answers to "timeless" questions already asked in pre-Socratic Greece. The human condition, our quest for knowledge, our fascination with transcendence are subjects of his interest.

Krzysztof Michalski also had a significant impact on the reception of phenomenology in Poland. In the 1970s, he published extensively on phenomenology, especially on Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer. His comprehensive and challenging work on Heidegger was titled Heidegger i filozofia wspólczesna (Heidegger and contemporary philosophy, 1978). In it he translated the specifically Heideggerian terms into Polish (many of them for the first time) and strongly influenced the perception of Heidegger in Poland. His translation of Heidegger's neologisms, being basically an imposition of a certain interpretation, is by now well-rooted in Polish philosophical jargon.

Free from the obstacles it faced in Poland, phenomenology was developed by some Polish philosophers abroad. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka is the most successful among them. The other great Polish name in phenomenology in the United States is Robert Sokolowski. However, being already a third-generation American, Sokolowski does not regard himself as part of the Polish philosophical community. Tymieniecka received her initial philosophical education in Poland, being a student of Ingarden whose phenomenology - as well as Karol Wojtyla's - she energetically promotes worldwide. Tymieniecka has elaborated her own approach to phenomenology. With a major interest in aesthetics, she focuses her philosophy on the problems of human creativity and life.

Many of the leading phenomenologists in France as well as Germany (Jean-Paul Sartre, Gabriel Marcel, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger) were known in Poland as existentialists rather than phenomenologists, since the term "existential phenomenology" was not commonly used in Poland until recently.

Next to his philosophy of freedom, Sartre's atheism was a focal point for the philosophers in Poland, which has been a battlefield in the war between the Roman Catholic Church and the Communist Party. In 1961, one of the most brilliant Polish philosophers, and at that time one of the leading Party ideologists. Adam Schaff , published Marksizm a egzystencja1izm (Marxism vs. existentialism). Schaff's role in stimulating interest in phenomenology was similar to Kolakowski's. In this book, which really opened the debate on existentialism in Poland, Schaff presented Sartre as an existentialist and the problem of "existentialism and humanism" vs. "Marxism and humanism" as the kind of problem Marxist philosophers could and should be occupied with. Humanism here had three aspects: the Heideggerian concept presented in his "Briefe über den Humanismus" (1947), the Renaissance concept, and the popular understanding of humanism as basically synonymous with "atheism." Many philosophers jumped on the bandwagon at that time. At the same time, the Roman Catholic philosophers, notably Wojtyla, promoted Maritain's existential humanism.

Ultimately, the problem of "religious faith vs. philosophical faith" became a major subject of investigation. Philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Leon Shestov, Nikolai Berdyaev, Martin Buber, Jaspers, and Heidegger were discussed from that position.

An anthology of texts by leading French, German, and Russian existential phenornenologists titled Filozofia egzystencja1na (Existential philosophy) was published by Leszek Kolakowski and Krzysztof Pomian in 1965. They wrote a very insightful introduction to this anthology. Both the introduction and the texts published in Filozofia egzystencja1na served students for years as a basic source of knowledge about existentialism. With time, however, the initial fascination with existentialism faded. Today, there is some interest in particular philosophers (Sartre, Jaspers, Buber, Shestov, Berdyaev) or in particular problems (the Other, communication, freedom, reason vs. faith, etc.) rather than in existentialism as a movement. In 1972, in a special issue of Studia Filozoficzne devoted to Roman Ingarden, Stefan Sarnowski published a text, "Fenomenologia i egzystencjalizm" (Phenomenology and existentialism), that can be regarded as a summary of the debate on existentialism in Poland.

Discussions of Sartre and existentialism did not entirely dominate the phenomenological movement in Poland. Roman Catholic phenomenologists like Adam Wegrzewski were interested first of all in Max Scheler. Karol Wojtyla's occupation with Scheler's philosophy contributed to this interest immensely. Wojtyla was one of the most important Polish phenomenologists, even before he became pope. His election to the Holy See only magnified interest in his philosophy among Polish scholars. Numerous works are devoted to his philosophical views, and even more are written in the spirit of his philosophy. Wojtyla's phenomenology, focusing on the ethical and metaphysical status of a person as well as his theory of action is strongly influenced by Thomas Aquinas. This combination of Thomism and phenomenological anthropology and ethics is visible in many works of Polish philosophers in the 1980s and 1990S.

After Husserl and Scheler, Heidegger became the most important foreign phenomenologist for Poland. In the same decade, serious scholarship on Jaspers was initiated by Roman Rudzinski, whose untimely death in 1985 left his work unifinished. In the 1980s, Jaspers's philosophy became a major point of interest for Krystna Gòrniak-Kocikowska and Czeslawa Piecuch. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Nicolai Hartmann, Paul Ricoeur, and Hans-Georg Gadamer are also frequently discussed in Polish philosophical literature. From the late 1970s on, they were joined by Hannah Arendt, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Edith Stein, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, and occasionally by Alfred Schütz. Jacek Sójka published a book on the social ontology of Schutz entitled Pomiadzy fi1ozofia a socjologia: Spoleczna ontologia Alfreda Schütza (Between philosophy and sociology: The social ontology of Alfred Schutz, 1991).

Personalism was another field of interest for Catholic phenomenologist. Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973), Emmanuel Mounier (1905-1950), and Jacques Maritain were introduced to the Polish audience as personalists or "religious existentialists." Karol Wojtyla's interest in Maritain contributed very strongly to the popularity of his philosophy in Poland. Some Marxists (e.g., Klara Jedrzejczak, Ryszard Poplawski) specialized in critical, anticlerical presentations of personalism. Others attempted an "objective", "nonreligious" analysis of that movement. Even Protestant thinkers like Andrzej Wójtowicz participated in the dispute on the meaning of a Person.

One of the best known concepts of the Poznan school of methodology (Jerzy Kmita, Leszek Nowak , Wlodzimierz Lawniczak, etc.) - the method of abstraction and gradual concretization, which has been presented (wrongly, as shown by A. Kocikowski) as "Marx's scientific method" - has visible traces of Husserl's "principle of all principles" and of Ingarden's concept of "concretization" as presented in Das literarische Kunstwerk (The literary work of art, 1931). Although the Poznan school of methodology originated from the philosophy of one of the most prominent members of the Lvov-Warsaw school, Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz , it has enough space left for its members and supporters to be creatively interested in phenomenology. Works by younger scholars - e.g., Ewa Kobylinska’s investigation on intentionality and hermeneutical pansemiotism, Sójka's on Schütz, and Pawel Ozdowski’s texts on Ricoeur - can serve as examples. Barbara Kotowa wrote on Ingarden's aesthetics. However, Poznan never really was a very significant center of phenomenology in Poland.

On the other hand, the achievements of the members of the Poznan school have an influence on the way phenomenology is dealt with in Poland today. Scholars of the younger generation use texts written by members of Poznan school. For example, writing on aesthetics, Lukasz A. Plesnar supports his views by quoting Jerzy Kmita and Wlodzimierz Lawniczak's work in aesthetics and theory of culture, although neither Kmita nor Lawniczak are phenomenologists. Phenomenology in Poland is not isolated. Scholars from different philosophical orientations influence and creatively stimulate one another.

Thanks to Ingarden, the interest in phenomenological aesthetics was very high among Polish philosophers. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, Maria Golaszewska, Alicja Kuczynska, and Wladyslaw Strózewski are the most significant. Aesthetics was an area where "friendly coexistence" of opposite philosophical positions occasionally turned into a battlefield. For instance, Ingarden was criticized for proposing "false solutions" for some problems important for the sociology of literature and for not showing enough interest in the social context of the reception of the literary work. Numerous authors, such as Janina Makota, Jerzy Swiecimski and G. Szulczewski, used phenomenology for solving specific problems in aesthetics, especially in the visual arts. In the United States, Wojciech Chojna, who was educated in Poland, and later studied under J. N. Mohanty and Joseph Margolis, uses his Ingarden oriented phenomenology to investigate problems in social philosophy and aesthetics.

R. W. Kluszynski deals with the place of phenomenology in the theory of film as do Waclaw M. Osadnik and Lukasz Plesnar. Osadnik and Plesnar claim that intentional objects are the basis for the creation of the representational stratum of a film work. Having their work rooted in the linguistic theories, they propose to speak of the quasi-intentional character of such objects in the same sense as one speaks of the quasi-linguistic nature of film communication, because it stresses their theoretical character.

Philosophy of language is a major field of interest for Hanna Buczynska-Garewicz. Her other interest is the problem of freedom. She is influenced mainly by Husserl and Scheler.

Part of the works by Andrzej Póltawski, Krystyna Zamiara, A. Zalewski, K. Sroda pertain to phenomenological psychology. Pó1tawski was a disciple of Ingarden, but is also strongly influenced by Karol Wojtyla and Henri Ey. His other point of reference is the philosophy of G. E. Moore (1873-1958). His interest in the problems of consciousness and perception make philosophy of knowledge and phenomenological psychology his main fields of activity. Pó1tawski's book Swiat, spostrzejenie, swiadomoje: Fenomenologiczna koncepcja swiadomosei a realizm (World, perception, consciousness: The phenomenological concept of consciousness and realism, 1972) belongs now to the canon of classic texts in the field. Another area of his investigation is philosophical anthropology. Convergingly, Gestalt Psychology , especially in the work of Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) and Wolfgang Kohler (1887-1967), who influenced Jan Dembowski's Psychologia malp (The psychology of apes, 195 1), has been appreciated in Poland. An important book written from the position of Gestalt theory, Trud istnienia (The hardship of existence, 1986) by Kazimierz Dabrowski, author of a theory of positive disintegration, serves as support for Brunon Holyst's views on Husserl's ethical antirelativism. Phenomenologically influenced works by Jacek Sójka, Jacek Tittenbrun, Zdzislaw Krasnodabski, M. Czyzewski, and others, have been published in sociology. Stanislaw Czemiak published a book on Max Scheler's sociology of knowledge entitled Sociologia o wiedzy Maxa Schelera (Max Scheler's sociology of knowledge, 1981, with a summary in German).

A new generation of more "world-oriented" scholars, scholars who are ready to join the international community, is emerging now in Poland. However, the present "atomization" of phenomenology in general, i.e., its split into numerous quite separate divisions, does not make the situation easy. At present, it is difficult to say which of the phenomenological orientations, if any, will gain the greatest popularity among the young Polish philosophers and will be creatively developed. It is also too soon to see how will they use the freedom from ideological and political pressure. However, the new political situation after the fall of Communism, and the new generation of philosophers, seem to be promising for the future of Polish phenomenology. In general, the direction provided by Karol Wojtyla is continued by his disciples and by the young generation of scholars trained by them. This is today the strongest current in Polish phenomenology. Thanks to much greater freedom than was the case in older generations, Polish philosophers participate intensively in the international exchange of ideas. A significant number of them live and publish outside of Poland. For many (e.g., K. Górniak-Kocikowska, J. Sójka, and W. Zelaniec) phenomenology is one but not the only field of interest. In other cases, a philosopher is interested in certain problems (such as time, freedom, creativity, etc.) and investigates this problem from different perspectives with phenomenology being one of them. There are new initiatives and new fields of interest, some of which are presented below.

Bogdan Baran wrote the first book in Poland presenting phenomenology in the United States. It is both a short history of that movement there and the introduction of some of its most important achievements. Baran names James M. Edie, Lester Embree, Don Ihde, Hugh Silverman, Robert Sokolowski, Herbert Spiegelberg, and Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka as representative for contemporary American phenomenology. From his point of view, Americans started to be interested in phenomenology when phenomenology in Germany was dying, which in his opinion happened in the 1940s. Baran is very cautiously optimistic about the fate of phenomenology in its last fortress, America.

Maria Bielawka writes on the discovery of inner time-constituting consciousness in an essay in Studia Filozoficzne, 1990. In that paper, she shows a possible way of explaining the epistemological paradox of our consciousness, which is timeless but has the ability of constituting time. She accepts the thesis that Husserl's opening up of the domain of inner consciousness was possible because of a momentary, apodictically certain, transcendental or critical self-reflection. Bielawka sides with Husserl in the conclusion that it is a necessity of reason to accept the existence of a divine being (the absolutely creative consciousness). Her strong statement about the meaning of "constitution" by Husserl as co-creation of reality through the agency of the structure of our mind somewhat summarizes the years of discussions Polish phenomenologists have had on the nature of human being and of human actions. By saying that the human being is the co-creator of reality, and by tracing this view back to Husserl, she places the achievements of Polish Roman Catholic phenomenologists in the legitimate Husserlian tradition.

Extensive work in the field of Husserl studies has been done by Stanislaw Judycki, whose book Intersubiektwnosc i czas (Intersubjectivity and time, 1990, with a summary in German), focuses on Husserl's late writings. Judycki is also interested in the investigation of phenomenology per se. His articles on the nature and subject matter of phenomenology provide valuable information and insight. Judycki frequently refers to the works of German and American phenomenologists.

The "Aletheia" Foundation publishes a periodical entitled Aletheia and a series of books, mostly translations of contemporary classic philosophical positions. An issue on Heidegger dzisiaj (Heidegger today) was published in 1990. It contains short writings by Heidegger, including "Mein Weg in die Phanomenologie" (1963), and texts about Heidegger. The volume is devoted to his philosophy and to the controversy about Heidegger and Nazism (with a bibliography on that subject). As it was in the past forty years, Cracow, Lublin, and also Warsaw remain the cities in which most of the research in phenomenology is concentrated.


Southern Connecticut State University


Selected Bibliography

A comprehensive bibliography of books, articles, essays, etc., published in Poland in the Polish language in the field of phenomenology between 1913 and 1987 (not including texts by or on Roman Ingarden) has been put together by Janusz Sidorek and published in Analecta Husserliana 27 (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989), 685714. Listed below are items published after 1987.


The following philosophical journals deserve attention: Analecta (Warsaw), Analecta Cracoviensia (Cracow), Arka (Cracow), Etyka (Warsaw), Filozofia (Lublin), Kwartalnik Filozoficzny, (Cracow), Logos I Ethos (Cracow), Principia (Cracow), Przeglad Humanistyczny (Warsaw), Przeglad Filozoficzny (Warsaw), Studia Philosophiae Christianae (Warsaw).

One can also find publications on phenomenology in Catholic journals such as Znak, Roczniki Filozoficzne KUL, Zeszyty Naukowe KUL (KUL stands for Catholic University of Lublin), Studia Teologica Varsaviensia, and W Drodze, as well as in the atheistic journals such as Czlowiek i Swiatopoglad. Studia Fi1ozoficzne, Euhemer, and Argumenty , some of which do not exist anymore. Interestingly, many authors published in both types of journals. Occasionally, there were articles on the relation between phenomenology and Christianity or phenomenology and Marxism. Teksty, a rather interdisciplinary journal, frequently publishes phenomenology as well.



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