Biographical Notes

in Lectures on Polish Value Theory
Biographical Notes

Kazimierz Twardowski (1866–1938)

was born to Polish parents in Vienna, where his father was a high-ranking official of the Austrian Treasury. In 1885 he graduated with honors from the Theresianum, an elite secondary school of the Habsburg monarchy. Although attracted by other prospects such as the study of law and oriental languages, which would have prepared him for a career as a diplomat, he studied philosophy at the University of Vienna, mainly under the guidance of Robert Zimmermann (his Doktorvater) and Franz Brentano, whom he regarded as his master and model. In 1892 he defended his doctoral dissertation, Idee und Perception. Eine erkenntnis-theoretische Studie aus Descartes, published the previous year. In 1894 he received his veniam legendi at the University of Vienna upon presentation of his Habilitationsschrift: Zur Lehre vom Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellungen. Eine psychologische Untersuchung. In the following year he was appointed professor extraordinarius at the Polish-speaking University of Lvov. Lvov (Lemberg in German) was at that time the capital of the Austrian province of Galicia.

Twardowski was regarded as a brilliant lecturer and mentor of his students. His disciples carried the spirit of his approach to philosophy – rational, open to different positions, relying on the methodological model of science – from Lvov to other Polish university centers when Poland regained its political independence in 1918.

He laid the groundwork for the future development of philosophy in Poland: he reformed philosophical studies at his university, in 1904 he founded the Polish Philosophical Society, and in 1911 he launched the periodical Ruch Filozoficzny (The Philosophical Movement).

He was one of the most prominent faculty members of the University of Lvov. He served as dean and rector. Owing to his open lectures he was well known and appreciated far beyond philosophical circles. He considered it to be one of his duties as an academic teacher to introduce the wider public to serious philosophical work and to the arcana of rational debate.

He retired in 1930, but as honorary professor of the University of Lvov he continued to teach and took part in other academic activities.

Such works of Twardowski as his Habilitationsschrift: Zur Lehre vom Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellungen. Eine psychologische Untersuchung (On the Content and Object of Presentations. A Psychological Investigation, 1894), Wyobrażenia i pojęcia (Images and Concepts, 1898), O tak zwanych prawdach względnych (On So-Called Relative Truths, 1900) and O czynnościach i wytworach. Kilka uwag z pogranicza psychologii, gramatyki i logiki (On Actions and Products. A Few Remarks from the Meeting Points of Psychology, Grammar and Logic, 1912) are writings of enduring impact. Active in many domains of academic and public life and devoting his time and energy to his “school”, his doctoral students and colleagues, Twardowski left many of his works in unfinished form. His important works – some of them published from manuscripts stored in Twardowski’s archives in Warsaw – are now available. Here are the relevant titles of the Polish editions: Rozprawy i artykuły filozoficzne, Lwów 1927; Rozprawy, Lwów 1938; Wybrane pisma filozoficzne, Warszawa 1965; Etyka, Toruń 1997; Filozofia i muzyka, Warszawa 2005; Myśl, mowa i czyn, part 1, Kraków 2013; and Myśl, mowa i czyn, part 2, Warszawa 2014.

English translations are to be found in On the Content and Object of Presentations. A Psychological Investigation, The Hague 1977; On Actions, Products and Other Topics in Philosophy, Amsterdam 1999; and On Prejudices, Judgments and Other Topics in Philosophy, Amsterdam–New York 2014.

Tadeusz Czeżowski (1889–1981)

was born in Vienna. He spent his childhood and youth in Lwów (Lemberg) where his father was a high state official. In 1907 he began his studies at Jan Kazimierz University in Lwów. He studied mathematics, physics and philosophy under Wacław Sierpiński, Marian Smoluchowski and Kazimierz Twardowski. In 1912 he began to work as a secondary school teacher. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1914 on the basis of a dissertation concerned with problems of logic – Teoria klas (Theory of Classes). In 1918–1923 Czeżowski was busy with the task of organizing the institutions of university-level education, as a ministerial official.

He also continued his scholarly interests. In 1923 he was nominated extraordinary professor at Stefan Batory University in Wilno (Vilnius). He worked there till World War ii. During the Occupation he was one of the key figures of the underground Wilno University. After the war Czeżowski was – like many of his university colleagues – “directed” to the University of Toruń. In October 1945 Czeżowski was promoted to the Chair of Logic and kept this position till his retirement in 1960 (even in the early fifties he was allowed to teach logic, but not philosophy). Czeżowski was active after his retirement: he held seminars, published papers and continued his editorial work. From 1948 he was editor-in-chief of the oldest Polish philosophical periodical, Ruch Filozoficzny. Most of Czeżowski’s publications appeared during his “Toruń period”.

These are some of them: Odczyty filozoficzne (Philosophical Lectures, 1946); Główne zasady nauk filzoficznych (Main Principles of Philosophical Disciplines, 1946); O metafizyce, jej kierunkach i zagadnieniach (On Metaphysics, Its Currents and Issues, 1948); Filozofia na rozdrożu (Philosophy at the Crossroads, 1965).

Tadeusz Kotarbiński (1886–1981)

was born in Warsaw. His father was a painter, his mother a pianist. Many of his close relatives were also artistically talented. Like other young people of his generation, in 1905 Kotarbiński took part in anti-tsarist demonstrations and in a school strike. In consequence he was expelled from the state secondary school, Philological Gymnasium No. 5 in Warsaw. A year later he graduated from the private Chrzanowski Gymnasium, and then once again, in 1907, from a state secondary school in Parnawa, Estonia (then a Russian province), in order to get a graduation document recognized by the state authorities in Russia and elsewhere in Europe. In the meantime he made efforts to study (as a not quite formally enrolled student) physics and mathematics in Cracow, and architecture in Lvov and Darmstadt. Finally he decided to study philosophy and classical philology at the University of Lvov. His professors there included Kazimierz Twardowski, Jan Łukasiewicz, the psychologist Władysław Witwicki and the philologist Stanislaw Witkowski.

In 1912 Kotarbińki defended his doctoral dissertation on Mill’s and Spencer’s ethics, written under the supervision of Kazimierz Twardowski. From 1912 to 1919 he taught Latin and Greek at the Mikołaj Rej Gymnasium in Warsaw. In 1913 his first book-length publication, Szkice praktyczne (Practical Essays), appeared.

In 1919 he was appointed professor extraordinarius of philosophy at the University of Warsaw. In 1929 the publication of his textbook Elementy teorii poznania, logiki formalnej i metodologii nauk established his professional position. In 1929 he was appointed professor ordinarius at the University of Warsaw. During the Nazi occupation Kotarbiński continued his teaching in the underground University of Warsaw and also pursued his research further. Three important works of his were lost during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944: manuscripts on praxiology; a translation, with commentary, of Bacon’s Novum Organon; and a philosophical dictionary Kotarbiński had co-authored with other philosophers.

After the war, in 1945 Kotarbiński co-organized the new University of Łódź; from 1945 to 1949 he served as founding rector of that university. From 1949 to 1951 he held the Chair of Philosophy at the University of Warsaw while still lecturing in Łódź. From 1951 to 1961 he held the Chair of Logic at the University of Warsaw. He retired in 1961.

Kotarbiński held a number of important organizational positions:

  • 1927–1977, President of the Polish Philosophical Society;

  • 1927–1939, President of the Warsaw Philosophical Society;

  • 1929–1930, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Warsaw;

  • 1945–1949, Rector of the University of Łódź;

  • 1957–1962, President of the Polish Academy of Sciences;

  • 1960–1963, President of the Institut International de Philosophie.

Kotarbiński’s most important publications include Szkice praktyczne (Practical Essays, 1913), Utylitaryzm w etyce Milla i Spencera (Utilitarianism in the Ethics of Mill and Spencer, 1915), Elementy teorii poznania, logiki formalnej i metodologii nauk (Elements of the Theory of Knowledge, Formal Logic and Methodology of Sciences, 1929, translated as Gnosiology. The Scientific Approach to the Theory of Knowledge, 1966), Czyn (Act, 1934), Z zagadnień ogólnej teorii walki (On Problems of the General Theory of Struggle, 1938), Traktat o dobrej robocie (Treatise on Good Work, 1955, translated as Praxiology. An Introduction to the Science of Efficient Action, 1965), Wykłady z dziejów logiki (Lectures from the History of Logic, 1957), Medytacje o życiu godziwym (Meditations on a Decent Life, 1966) and Szkice z historii filozofii i logiki (Essays from the History of Philosophy and Logic, 1979).

Władysław Tatarkiewicz (1886–1980)

was born in Warsaw. His family belonged to Warsaw’s cultural elite; his grandfather was a distinguished classicist sculptor. Tatarkiewicz began his university studies in 1903 in the law faculty of Warsaw University, but soon the tsarist authorities closed the institution in response to student demonstrations demanding that Polish be introduced as the language of instruction. In 1905 Tatarkiewicz left Warsaw for Zurich, then for Berlin, and finally for Marburg where he studied philosophy. There he met the likes of Dilthey, Paulsen, Simmel, Cassirer, Natorp, Ortega y Gasset and Nicolai Hartmann. In 1910 he presented his dissertation on Aristotle’s system of categories and received his Ph.D. In 1911–1912 he attended Bergson’s and Janet’s lectures in Paris.

When in 1915 Warsaw University was reopened, Tatarkiewicz was charged with one of the chairs of philosophy. The main subject of his lectures was the history of philosophy. After World War I Tatarkiewicz was one of those who created the institutions of higher education in independent Poland. He organized philosophical studies in Wilno (Vilnius) and in Poznań. He came back to Warsaw in 1923. From then he worked at Warsaw University. During the Nazi occupation Tatarkiewicz lived in Warsaw. Like many other scholars he taught clandestine university courses. Biographers stress the telling fact that in occupied Warsaw Tatarkiewicz continued not only his teaching but also his work on the treatise O szczęściu (On Happiness). After the war Tatarkiewicz resumed his chair of philosophy. In the early fifties he was forced to leave it again as “ideologically suspect”. When Tatarkiewicz was allowed to teach again in 1956, his lectures attracted crowds. After his retirement in 1961, Tatarkiewicz travelled much, gave lectures at various places in Poland and abroad, and published books and papers. The list of his publications on philosophy, the history of philosophy, aesthetics, the history of aesthetics and the history of art numbers over a thousand items.

The most important of them are Die Disposition der Aristotelischen Prinzipien (1910); O bezwzględności dobra (On the Absoluteness of the Good, 1919); Historia filozofii (History of Philosophy, 3 vols., 1931, 1950); O szczęściu (On Happiness, 1947); Historia estetyki (History of Aesthetics, 3 vols., 1960, 1967); Dzieje sześciu pojęć (A History of Six Ideas, 1975).

Roman Ingarden (1893–1970)

was born in Cracow. He studied philosophy in Lwów (Lemberg). His teacher there was Kazimierz Twardowski. He continued his philosophy studies in Göttingen under Edmund Husserl, and also studied mathematics (under David Hilbert) and psychology. His dissertation (1918, supervised by Edmund Husserl) was concerned with the concept of intuition in Bergson, After his habilitation in 1924, Ingarden was lecturer and after 1933 professor of philosophy at the University of Lwów. During the war Ingarden lived in the Cracow area. Despite the circumstances he worked on his main treatise, Spór o istnienie świata (Controversy about the Existence of the World). After the war Ingarden began work as a philosophy professor at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. In the early fifties he was forbidden, for political reasons, to lecture at the university. He used some of his time to translate Kant’s main Critique. He was allowed to resume teaching in 1956. After his retirement in 1963, Ingarden lectured at various university centres in Holland, Scandinavia and other countries.

His main publications are Essentiale Fragen (1925); Das literarische Kunstwerk (1931); Spór o istnienie świata (Controversy about the Existence of the World, 2 vols., 1947, 1948); Studia z estetyki (Aesthetic Studies, 3 vols. 1957, 1958, 1970); Der Streit um die Existenz der Welt (German, revised version of Spór … , 2 vols. 1964, 1965); Über die Verantwortung (1970), Wykłady z etyki (Lectures on Ethics, 1989).

Henryk Elzenberg (1887–1967)

was born in Warsaw. His father, a well known lawyer, was active in the cultural milieus of Warsaw and Łódź. As a nine-year-old boy Henryk Elzenberg left Warsaw, first for Zurich, and then for Geneva where he took his secondary school diploma exam. He studied humanities and philosophy in Paris, attending lectures of Bergson, Brochard, Delbos and Lévy-Bruhl. His studies abroad were his father’s way of sparing him unpleasant contact with the Russian system of education; Warsaw was then part of the Russian empire. In 1910–1912 he worked as a lecturer on French literature at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Upon his return to Poland, Elzenberg participated in different ways in the Polish independence movement, including as a soldier: he joined Józef Piłsudski’s Legions. At the same time he continued his philosophical studies. In 1917, in Cracow he published Podstawy metafizyki Leibniza (Foundations of Leibniz’ Metaphysics). He also took part in the Polish-Soviet War in 1920.

After his habilitation in 1921 at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Elzenberg continued his academic career, first in Warsaw and from 1936 in Wilno (Vilnius). His academic activities were partly interrupted by World War ii. Elzenberg spent the war in Wilno. He was active in the clandestine educational system organized by teachers and university professors. To make his living he had to do other things: for a while he was a watchman at a construction site. In 1945, with many other Poles, he was “evacuated” from Wilno to Warsaw. The “evacuation” document confirms that Elzenberg took with him a scholarly book collection, 300 kilograms of articles of food, 1,700 kilograms of household articles, but “no horses, no cattle, no pigs and no sheep”. In 1945 Elzenberg began his work at the University of Toruń. In 1950, “as an incorrigible idealist” he was refused the venia legendi. He could resume his teaching only in 1956. In 1960 he retired. Until his death he remained active as both a teacher and a writer.

During his lifetime Elzenberg published these works: Le sentiment religieux chez Leconte de Lisle (1909); Podstawy metafizyki Leibniza (Foundations of Leibniz’ Metaphysics, 1917); Marek Aureliusz (Marcus Aurelius, 1922); Kłopot z istnieniem (Troubles with Existence, 1963); Próby kontaktu (Attempts at Contact, 1966); Wartość i człowiek (Value and Man, 1966).

Maria Ossowska (1896–1974)

was born in Warsaw. She studied philosophy at Warsaw University, which was reopened in 1915. Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Jan Łukasiewicz and Tadeusz Kotarbiński were among her teachers. Her debut in 1919 was a review of Tatarkiewicz’s book O bezwzględności dobra. The topic of her dissertation (1921), written under the supervision of Jan Łukasiewicz, was Stoic ethics. In 1921–1923 Ossowska continued her studies in Paris. Afterwards she worked at Warsaw University as an assistant professor. Her habilitation in 1932 was based on a series of papers concerned with problems of semantics. A grant from the National Culture Fund enabled Ossowska and her husband, the eminent sociologist Stanisław Ossowski, to spend 1932–1935 in England. Ossowska attended seminars of B. Malinowski and G.E. Moore. Upon her return to Poland, Ossowska worked very intensely on her metaethical treatise, Podstawy nauki o moralności (Foundations of the Science of Morals). During the war Ossowska lived in Warsaw. She was one of the professors of the underground Warsaw University. Ossowska’s home was then not only a seminar room but also a place where persecuted Jews could hide. Threatened by the verdict of an extreme-right organization, Ossowska had to leave Warsaw in the summer of 1944, just before the Warsaw Uprising began. After the war Ossowska became professor of the newly established Łódź University. She assumed there the Chair of the Science of Morals, which was created especially for her. She returned to Warsaw in 1948. Like many other professors, she was debarred from teaching in 1952–1956. She was able to resume her teaching in 1956. In 1956–1966 she was the head of the Chair of the History and Theory of Morals. After her retirement Ossowska spent the spring semester of 1967 in Philadelphia, where she presented a series of lectures on the sociology of morals.

Her published books: Podstawy nauki o moralności (Foundations of the Science of Morals, 1947); Motywy postępowania (Motives of Action, 1949); Moralność mieszczańska (Bourgeois Morality, 1956); Socjologia moralności (Sociology of Morals, 1963); Myśl moralna Oświecenia angielskiego (Moral Thought of the British Enlightenment, 1966); Normy moraine (Moral Norms, 1970); Etos rycerski (The Ethos of Chivalry, 1973).

Józef (Innocenty) Maria Bocheński (1902–1995)

member of the Dominican Order, philosopher, theologian, logician, historian of logic, sovietologist. His eventful life reflects the events of the time: in 1917, while emigrating with his parents to Sweden, he witnessed the February Revolution in Petrograd; in 1920, not quite 18 years old, he fought in the Soviet-Polish war. He studied law in Lvov, and economics in Poznań. After an atheistic period he became a Dominican. In 1928 he earned his PhD in philosophy in Fribourg, Switzerland, and his doctorate of theology six years later in Rome at the Angelicum, where he then taught courses on logic. As a chaplain in the armed forces he participated in the Polish campaign in 1939; taken prisoner of war, he managed to escape and reached Rome. From 1940 to 1945 he was a chaplain in the armed forces of the Polish government in exile and took part in the Italian campaign.

In 1945 he resumed his academic activities: he was appointed professor of contemporary philosophy at the University of Fribourg; from 1950 to 1952 he served there as dean of the philosophy faculty, and from 1964 to 1966 as rector. In 1958 he founded the Institut de l’Europe Orientale which became an important center of Soviet studies. He lectured at many universities abroad, cooperated with Kultura, an important periodical of the Polish émigré community, and served as an expert on Soviet Russia and communist movements.

During his 27-year professorship at the University of Fribourg, Bocheński published a number of important works: La logique de Théophraste, 1947; Europäische Philosophie der Gegenwart, 1947; Ancient Formal Logic, 1951; Szkice etyczne, (Ethical Essays, 1953), Die zeitgenössischen Denkmethoden, 1954; Formale Logik, 1956; Handbuch des Weltkommunismus, 1958; Die dogmatischen Grundlagen der sowjetischen Philosophie, 1959; and The Logic of Religion, 1965.

His publications after his retirement in 1972 include Marxismus-Leninismus: Wissenschaft oder Glaube?, 1973; Űber den Sinn des Lebens und über die Philosophie, 1987; Autorität, Freiheit, Glaube. Sozialphilosophische Studien, 1988; and Podręcznik mądrości tego świata, 1992 (French translation: Manuel de sagesse du monde ordinaire, 2002).

A man of strong character, Bocheński left his self-portrait in his memoirs (Wspomnienia, 1993) and in a long interview (Entre la logique et la foi, 1990).