Second Annual Leszek Kołakowski Symposium with participation of Krzysztof Czyżewski

Second Annual Leszek Kołakowski Symposium. Paradises Lost: Entzauberung, Utopia, and their Afterlives 6-8 October 2016, Vienna, Austria. Venue: IWM, Spittelauer Lände 3, 1090 Vienna

Second annual Leszek Kołakowski Symposium. Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen, Vienna,  5-7 October 2016,  Paradises Lost: Entzauberung, Utopia, and their Afterlives

The Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski began his philosophical life as a Marxist, a believer in “scientific socialism,” which was among the utopias to develop from Enlightenment thought. Initially (in Charles Taylor’s description of Enlightenment Deism) God was merely “sidelined.” By the time of God’s death a hundred years later, Wissenschaft had long taken the place of divine miracle. The Marxist utopia, with its Hegelian promise of a reconciliation of all antagonisms at the end of History, followed Entzauberung; it was conceived on the basis of an already disenchanted world. The epistemological optimism of Enlightenment was predicated upon disenchantment.

 

For the older, post-Marxist Kołakowski, it was clear that all attempts to reach epistemological certainty had failed. All had failed and would continue to fail, because “if we start with the immanent world, we will end in the immanent world… The problem of the bridge is insoluble; there is no logical passage.”

Entzauberung was both the precondition for epistemological optimism and the cause of the impossibility of perfect truth. “The epistemological absolute,” Kołakowski writes, “is indeed impossible without the ontological absolute, which combines the quality of being a self-supporting ground of the world with perfect wisdom and perfect goodness.”

 

The Enlightenment’s attempt to return to epistemological and ontological certainty in the absence of God assumed the intimate relationship between the epistemological and the social: through the use of our reason, we could come ever closer to perfect knowledge. In turn, perfect knowledge would enable the construction of a perfect society. Marx very much shared this assumption that the epistemological utopia made the social utopia possible. Understanding the world gave us the ability to transform it.

 

In 1957, the then thirty-year old Kołakowski, hopeful that the terror of Stalinism would not be repeated and that the promise of the Polish October would be fulfilled, defined utopia as the condition for the Left’s very being: “The Left cannot do without a utopia. The Left gives forth utopias just as the pancreas discharges insulin—by virtue of an innate law.” This social utopia at the core of the Left’s identity was fundamentally a negation of the imperfect present: “To construct a utopia is always an act of negation toward an existing reality, a desire to transform it. But negation is not the opposite of construction—it is only the opposite of affirming existing conditions.

 

Later in his life, Kołakowski lost faith in both epistemological and social utopias. The “paradisiacal island of unshakeable knowledge” was a fantasy; our “[h]ope for an epistemological Ultimum” would forever remain unfulfilled. The social utopia that reconciled all antagonisms was likewise a fantasy, for in reality there were and would be no improvements in human life that did not need to be paid for with worsenings in other aspects of human life. It was not possible to maximize all good things at once. There was, for instance, no such thing as perfect security and perfect freedom, for in reality more security was gained at the cost of freedom. “Stated differently,” Kołakowski writes, “there exists no happy ending to human history.”

 

Although we knew that the search for an ultimate ground of knowledge in the absence of God was a utopian fantasy—Kołakowski believed—we must keep searching. For him, epistemological questions were always already ethical questions, and the search for truth was a moral imperative. The calling of philosophy was to bracket our knowledge of absolute truth’s impossibility, and to go on with the search.

Post-modernism could be said to begin when we accepted that not only was God dead, but moreover there was no Ersatz-God. Kołakowski arguably shared this conviction of the nonexistence of an ontological absolute that would provide an ultimate ground, yet he rejected post-modernism’s giving up on the search—to give up was morally impermissible.

Questions for Discussion:

 What are the relationships between utopia and disenchantment?

 What are the relationships between epistemological and social-historical utopias?

 Is the search for epistemological certainty a moral imperative—and if so, why?

Organization:

An afternoon session devoted to the philosophical work of Leszek Kołakowski’s erstwhile student at the University of Warsaw, Krzysztof Michalski (1948-2013), will be scheduled on the afternoon of Thursday, 6 October, as a precursor to the main Kołakowski symposium.

We intend to open the Kołakowski symposium officially in the evening of Thursday, 6 October, with the Keynote Speech. We will then meet all day on Friday, 7 October, with the option to continue on Sat 8 Oct until noon.

There will be no pre-circulated papers. Writing and speaking are different things and involve different styles of thinking; the purpose of the symposium will be to have a conversation. Participants are asked to suggest titles for initial “interventions” or “provocations.” The goal will be to move from a serial monological paradigm of exchange to a truly dialogical paradigm.

Organizers:

Timothy Garton Ash (Oxford)

Ludger Hagedorn (Vienna)

Marcin Król (Warsaw)

Marci Shore (New Haven)

 Participants:

Pavel Barša, Charles University, Prague

Agata Bielik-Robson, University of Nottingham

Krzysztof Czyżewski, Borderland Foundation (Fundacja Pogranicze), Sejny, Poland

Nicolas de Warren, Husserl-Archives, Centre for Phenomenology and Continental Philosophy, KU Leuven

James Dodd, The New School for Social Research, New York

Timothy Garton Ash, University of Oxford; Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford; and Senior Fellow Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Andrzej Gniazdowski, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw

Ludger Hagedorn, Jan Patocka Archive (IWM)

Agnes Heller, Budapest

Sudipta Kaviraj, Columbia University, New York

Marcin Król, University of Warsaw

Ivan Landa, Institute for Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences; Prague (tbc)

Jurko Prochasko, Iwan Franko Institute, Academy of Sciences, and Institute for Psychoanalysis, Lviv

Marci Shore, Associate Professor of History, Yale University

Marcin Szuster, Warsaw

Mihály Vajda, Kossuth-Lajos-University, Debrecen; Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Andrzej Waśkiewicz, Institute of Sociology, Warsaw

Anna Yampolskaya, Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities / Center for Fundamental Sociology, Moscow

 

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2016-10-05

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POGRANICZE - LATO 2018 WOLNOŚĆ / SOLIDARNOŚĆ 1918 / 1968

PROGRAM LATA

 

Europejska Nagroda Kultury Księżniczki Małgorzaty dla Pogranicza przyznawana przez Europejską Fundację Kultury z siedzibą w Amsterdamie.

 

Oferta edukacyjna

Darowizny uzyskane przez Fundację Pogranicze

W związku z otrzymaniem darowizn, na podstawie art. 18 ust. 1f, pkt 2 ustawy z dnia 15 lutego 1992 r. o podatku dochodowym od osób prawnych (Dz. U. z 2011 r. Nr 74, poz. 397, ze zmianami), Fundacja Pogranicze podaje do publicznej informacji, że łączna kwota uzyskana z tego tytułu w okresie od 01.01.2016 r. do 31.12.2016 r. wyniosła 254.355,17 zł (słownie: dwieście pięćdziesiąt cztery tysiące trzysta pięćdziesiąt pięć zł 17/100).

W 2016 roku Fundacja uzyskała również kwotę 9.230,90 zł w formie wpłat z 1% podatku.

Otrzymane darowizny Fundacja Pogranicze w całości przeznaczyła na realizację działań statutowych.

Towarzystwo Inwestycji Społeczno – Ekonomicznych S.A. w Warszawie udzieliło nam pożyczki na zamknięcie inwestycji oraz pomogło zorganizować montaż finansowy przy współpracy z Polskim Bankiem Spółdzielczym w Ciechanowie dla zapewnienia pełnej płynności przy prowadzeniu inwestycji związanej z rewitalizacją zabytkowego kompleksu dworskiego w Krasnogrudzie, w którym powstaje Międzynarodowe Centrum Dialogu.

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