Saturday, July 18, 2009

Polish philosopher Kolakowski dead at 81

From the news agency Reuter:
"Leading Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, who turned against his Marxist beliefs, went into exile and then branded his old doctrine "the greatest fantasy of the 20th century," died on Friday aged 81. Kolakowski, who won international renown with his monumental "Main Currents of Marxism," died in hospital in Oxford. Kolakowski had lived and taught mainly at Oxford since leaving communist Poland as a dissident in 1968. "We have lost a man who rendered remarkable services in the cause of a free and democratic Poland," the speaker of Poland's parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, told deputies who observed a minute of silence for Kolakowski".

In 1970 Jürgen Habermas tried to get Leszek Kolakowski to fill the chair in philosophy occupied earlier by Theodor W. Adorno at the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University, but his proposal and his negotiations with Kolakowski were met with strong opposition from the left-wing students at the university. The criticism of Habermas was very severe and there was disruptions at Habermas's seminars at the university. Habermas replied in a open letter published in "Frankfurter Rundschau" (March 24, 1970), in which he warned against recruiting only orthodox scholars ("Rechtgläubigen") at the institute. The following year Habermas left Frankfurt University and became co-director at a new Max-Planck-Institute in Starnberg.

- Neue Zürcher Zeitung, July 18, 2009 (Christian Heidrich)

- Die Welt, July 20, 2009 (Wolf Lepenies)
- Frankfurter Rundschau, July 20, 2009 (Arno Widmann)
- New York Times, July 20, 2009 (Nicholas Kulish)
- London Times, July 22, 2009
- The Economist, July 30, 2009

1 comment:

tsai said...

Kolakowski's book is my first encounter with Marxism. Rest in peace, my professor.