Kazimierz Twardowski




  Main Works

  Selected Bibliography

 Documentation on Twardowski and Other Links


Papers by Twardowski

Remarks on the Classification of Views on the Relation between the Soul and the Body
This article appears courtesy of Axiomathes
(RTF file (33 Kb), click on the icon )

This article appears courtesy of Axiomathes
(RTF file (128 Kb), click on the icon )

Articles about Twardowski

 A. Betti, Sempiternal Truth. The Bolzano-Twardowski-Lesniewski Axis

R. Poli, "Twardowski's Theory of Modification against the Background of Traditional Logic"
This article appears courtesy of Axiomathes


The role of Twardowski in Polish philosophy can be compared to that of G.E. Moore in 20th-century English philosophy by virtue of his having been the founder of a national tradition of thought endowed with originality and accorded international recognition - the so-called Lvov-Warsaw School.
His thought was inspired by the teaching of Franciszek Brentano
, under whose guidance he wrote his dissertations. Due to the research he carried out during his stay in Vienna, he is in particular considered by many to be a sort of trait d'union between the so-called Austrian School and the different factions of Brentanists and, to a certain extent, the phenomenology of Husserl .
Inspired by Aristotle, the Scholastics and in particular Brentano, Twardowski clarified the distinction the latter made between the act and the content of a psychological phenomenon, stating that the term representation was at times taken to mean the act of representation, i.e. the activity of representing, and at others what is represented in such an act, i.e. the contents of representation. He went on to assert that the "contents" of representation can be two quite different things: (a) an object as the immanent content of a representation; and (b) "an object towards which our representing, so to speak, addresses itself". In this way he makes a triple distinction between the act, content and object of representation, which is usually seen as his most significant contribution to the Brentanist tradition and a sort of "intermediate stage" between Brentano and Husserl.
After settling in Lvov
, Twardowski progressively abandoned the psychologism he had previously shared with Brentano. The results of this process are clear in his 1898 essay "Wyobrazenia i Pojecia" (Presentation and Concept) in which he criticised Hume's doctrine which tended to reduce ideas to a simple re-elaboration of impressions (inner or outer), preferring to conceive of them as an entity in themselves, the fruit of an original act of synthesis.
Two other themes Twardowski always insisted on were the demand for a clear, unambiguous philosophical style and criticism of the way in which the problem of metaphysics was treated. The former, which was to remain a feature common to all the philosophers of the Lvov-Warsaw School, led Twardowski to focus on the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic perfection of language. He therefore viewed the method of semiotic analysis as the "fundamental method of philosophy", but did not lose sight of the instrumental nature of language as a means with which to objectivise and communicate our judgements on the world.
As far as metaphysics is concerned, although Twardowski was more diffident than Brentano towards systems that claimed to have the last word concerning reality, he did not take a completely dismissive standpoint. This was not only because he thought there was a possibility of solving metaphysical problems scientifically, but also because he was convinced that metaphysical concepts were not simply non-scientific but often of a pre-scientific nature, in the sense that they at times contained truths that could be scientifically proved only by being incorporated in a particular scientific discipline. From this point of view there is a continuous exchange between metaphysical concepts and specific sciences.
Finally, the sensitivity he had inherited from Brentano towards certain themes of Aristotelian philosophy and medieval Scholasticism is reflected in Twardowski's realistic, objective attitude which favoured the theory of truth as correspondence. Although he did not express any particularly original concepts on the topic, they were important in the development of the concept of truth of the Lvov-Warsaw School. The school he founded was, in fact, generally characterised by acceptance of ontological realism, objectivism and the theory of absolute correspondence. It also shared Twardowski's positive evaluation of philosophy as "the science of science" and thus the attempt not so much to "dissolve" metaphysical problems by the logical analysis of language ( which was to be typical of the syntactic trend represented in the Vienna School by Carnap) but to "solve" them by recourse to scientific criteria, applying the instruments of logic to the purpose. Here again Twardowski was no extremist: whereas on the one hand he rejected Neo-Positivist minimalism and ideological maximalism in favour of a moderate Aristotelianism, on the other he also rejected the formalistic excesses to be found in the works of his pupil Lukasiewicz . This moderation can therefore be said to be the origin of a school that was pluralistic and at the same time unified in its basic features.


Born in Vienna, Twardowski's main teacher at the University of the Austro-Hungarian capital was Franciszek Brentano (whose pupils also included A. Meinong and E. Husserl ). In Vienna Twardowski took a doctorate in philosophy in 1891 with a dissertation on Descartes (under the supervision of R. Zimmerman) and also pursued studies in classical philology, mathematics and physics, in a richly stimulating intellectual environment that was later to give birth to the Vienna Circle. After his habilitation in 1894 with a dissertation that is remembered as his main contribution to philosophy, he was appointed Professor of Philosophy at the University of Lvov in 1895, where he remained in various capacities for 35 years. In Lvov, taking a critical stand towards both philosophy as cultivated at the University and the general level of culture in Galicia as a whole, Twardowski started a fruitful activity as a teacher and organiser of culture, launching a programme of philosophical training for the younger generations in the right way to practise philosophy. A source of inspiration to a whole new generation of scholars and philosophers, his organising activity above all bore fruit in the re-organisation of the University of Lvov and its library and also in the creation of various cultural institutions, many of which survived him and are still operating today. He was the main promoter of the foundation, in 1897, of the first Polish Philosophical Seminary (which he originally directed together with Aleksander Skorski); in 1901 of the Polish Society of Experimental Psychology, and in 1904 of the Polish Philosophical Society, which is still active. In addition he encouraged and supported Wladislaw Veryho in founding the first Polish philosophical journal, Przeglad Filozoficzny, and shortly afterwards, in 1911, he himself promoted the publication of Ruch Filkozoficzny, a journal of a bibliographical nature that provided Polish scholars with information about developments in world philosophy.

Main works


Selected Bibliography

Documentation on Twardowski

Correspondence, Unpublished Papers from Kazimierz Twardowski Archives in Warsaw and Other Links


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