Philosophy and Ideology. Z. A. Jordan 1963


After Warsaw and Lwów, Cracow was the next most important centre of philosophical studies in Poland in the period between the two wars. Like logic, philosophy developed there under influences which differentiated Cracow philosophers from those of the Warsaw school.

When Twardowski was beginning to teach in Lwów, the University of Cracow was dominated by historians of philosophy, Father Stefan Pawlicki (1839-1917) and Maurycy Straszewski (1848-1921), and was under the pronounced influence of Christian philosophy, represented at that time by Father Marian Morawski (1845-1901). Later both these trends remained strong and were felt. In particular, the University of Cracow continued to be the best school for historians of philosophy.

A new development was started by Władysław Heinrich (1869-1957), who since 1905 for more than half a century held a dominant position in Cracow University. Heinrich studied under Avenarius and his main interest was psychology[106]. As a teacher of philosophy and its historian he gave to philosophy a distinctly scientific orientation. This trend was also represented by Tadeusz Garbowski (1869-1940), a zoologist by education and vocation, who was appointed to the second chair of philosophy in Cracow.

The rise of interest in the philosophy of science was also due to other factors. For a long period the chair of physics at Cracow University was held by distinguished scientists of international renown. Zygmunt Wróblewski (18471888), who together with Karol Olszewski (1846-1915) first liquefied oxygen, was succeeded by August Witkowski (1854-1913) and the latter by Marian Smoluchowski (1872-1917). Smoluchowski had pronounced philosophical interests and his contributions to statistical physics led him to the examination of the concept of probability, chance, natural law, determinism, in short, of philosophical problems of physics, for which he won international reputation[107]. Philosophical interests were shared by Władysław Natanson (1864-1937), another distinguished physicist, who combined knowledge of physics, history and philosophy with a considerable literary talent.

In the period between the two wars physicists outside Cracow made important contributions to the philosophy of science. The most eminent among them was the Warsaw theoretical physicist Czesław Bi?obrzeski (1878-1953), who exercised a considerable influence before and after the Second World War, Leopold Infeld (born 1898) and Szczepan Szczeniowski (born 1898), both theoretical physicists. Borderline questions between science and philosophy were approached from the viewpoint of biology by Ludwik Hirszfeld (1884-1954), and of medicine by Władysław Szumowski, Ludwik Fleck (born 1896) and Tadeusz Bilikiewicz (born 1901).

The leading Cracow representatives of the philosophy of science were Joachim Metallmann (1889-1942), Bolesław Gawecki (born 1889), Zygmunt Mysłakowski (born 1890), and among the younger Zygmunt Spira; Aleksander Birkenmajer (born 1890), a historian of science and philosophy, should also be mentioned in this group. Metallmann was its outstanding figure. He combined philosophical education with knowledge of physics, chemistry, and biology. He differed from the methodologists of science of the Warsaw school by his method, modelled on the traditional manner of philosophical analysis, familiar from the writings of A.N. Whitehead or Emile Meyerson, whom Metallmann highly appreciated. Towards the end of his life he drew nearer to the Warsaw school and tried to acquire a command of the methods provided by modern formal logic.

Metallmann’s most important contribution was his book on determinism in natural sciences, in which he carefully distinguished three types of natural laws (causal, statistical, and morphological), mutually irreducible to each other, and concerned with basically different phenomena (events, classes of events or characteristics, co-existence of different characteristics). Consequently, he differentiated three meanings the term ‘determinism’ may have in science, the terminological distinctions being based on different kinds of regularities in Nature.

Two other schools of thought had very numerous adherents in Poland in the period between the two wars, Catholic philosophy and traditionalistic philosophy, the two often coalescing by a personal union. The first included Augustinianism and Thomism. It was taught at the university Theological Faculties, in the Roman-Catholic seminaries, and in the Catholic University of Lublin founded in 1918. Although it has produced some outstanding scholars, it seemed to exercise little influence on academic philosophy. It was widely felt that a philosopher follows every argument wherever it may lead and a Catholic philosopher, by his own admission, is not always willing or able to comply with this basic requirement[108].

There were, however, some Catholic philosophers whose specialised knowledge secured for them a high rank and a recognised position in the world of learning. Among them were Konstanty Michalski, the eminent mediaevalist, Jan Salamucha and J. M. Bocheński, logicians and historians of logic, Pawel Siwek, an authority on Spinoza, Józef Pastuszka, a historian of philosophy, J. F. Drewnowski, a logician and methodologist, Stefan Świeżawski, a historian of metaphysics. In the ‘thirties a group of Thomists, led by J. M. Bocheński, J. F. Drewnowski and Jan Salamucha, set up the so-called Cracow Circle,which advocated the adoption of modern formal logic and its application to Thomistic philosophy as well as to theology[109].

The Cracow Circle was strong because of its thinkers but weak in numbers; the opponents of modern formal logic and of new philosophical trends, originating from formal logic, were clearly in a great majority among the Catholic philosophers. Their recognised representatives: Father Jacek Woroniecki (1879-1949), Piotr Chojnacki (born 1897), Bishop Kazimierz Kowalski (born 1896), Jozef Pastuszka (born 1897) and Bishop Jan Stepa (1892-1959), were supporters of traditionalistic philosophy. The same can be said of the leading lay Catholic thinkers: Witold Rubczyński (1864-1938), a metaphysician and moral philosopher, Bugumił Jasinowski (born 1883), a historian of philosophy, Bohdan Rutkiewicz (1887-1933), a philosopher of science, Stefan Harassek (1890-1952) and Wiktor Wąsik (born 1883), historians of philosophy in Poland.

The differences of opinion between the Cracow Circle and the traditionalists were ostensibly concerned with the question whether or not scholastic logic was still unsurpassed by anything that modern thought may offer, but in fact the issue lay deeper. The traditionalists could not deny that logic had made some progress since Thomas Aquinas, and their hostility to modern innovations was prompted by suspicions and misgivings about what purpose this progress served.

These suspicions towards the uses of modern logic were clearly expressed at a conference held in Cracow in 1935, at which the modernisers were represented by Bocheński, Drewnowski, and Salamucha, supported by Lukasiewicz, and the traditionalist trend by Chojnacki and Pastuszka. The main argument of the latter was that the formalism of modern logic was not philosophically neutral, but entailed a certain intellectual attitude, with which nominalism, positivism, conventionalism, physicalism, pragmatism, and relativism were closely associated. The modernisers, whose standpoint was ably and forcefully presented, did not succeed in dispelling these misgivings and making their views prevail. They did, however, manage to launch publicly their ideas and start a new development, which has ever since had some supporters in Poland and begun to spread abroad. A few years ago a warm tribute was paid by Michalski to the members of the Cracow Circle for their contribution to the modernisation of the whole field of medieval studies[110].

It should be remembered that at the time of the Cracow conference there were only three chairs of Catholic philosophy in the entire world from which modern logic was taught – at the Angelicum in Rome, at the Institut Supérieur de Philosophie at Louvain, and at the Theological Faculty of Cracow University. The first of them was held by Bocheński, the second by Robert Feys, and the third by Salamucha. Since then the number of Thomist scholars active in the field of modern logic and history of logic has considerably increased. In their name Philotheus Boehner recognised the pioneer work accomplished by the Cracow Circle[111].

The term ‘traditionalistic philosophy’ did not designate any organised group, like the Thomists and Catholic philosophers in general. It was a descriptive colloquialism used and applied to all those who for various reasons were opposed to the use in philosophy of the methods of science, in particular those based on modern formal logic. What was implicitly or explicitly common to the traditionalistic philosophers was their belief that each discipline, including philosophy, has its own method and standards of precision, which cannot be replaced by those taken over from some other discipline without exposing itself to some fatal effects. In the case of philosophy the application of the methods of science results either in an arbitrary elimination or in a serious misinterpretation of some essential philosophical problems. Second, and this opinion was not held by all traditionalistic philosophers, philosophy cannot do without vague, inadequately defined and highly abstract concepts, or dispense with the modes of reasoning that escape formal control. ‘Elastic notions’ are sometimes methodologically valuable, a metaphor or analogy is often more enlightening than a strict formal proof. What the adherents of scientific philosophy considered as a fatal weakness inherent in the traditional way of philosophical thinking, the adversaries of the scientific methods felt to be its essential feature, its strength and virtue.

The supporters of the second thesis formed the militant wing of traditionalistic philosophy and were inspired by the Hegelian tradition or the tradition of the so-called national philosophy. The militant wing constituted a minority of traditionalistic philosophers. It included first of all those inclined to treat the Warsaw school and similar movements abroad as a transient fashion, upon which the old tendencies would reassert themselves and the examination of the neglected and essentially philosophical problems would be resumed. Many of the adherents of traditionalistic philosophy belonged to the oldest generation at that time active in Poland and were reputed for their thorough knowledge of some particular period or trend in the history of philosophy. In this respect each of them contributed to and has a place in the history of philosophy in Poland. The best known were Benedykt Bornstein (1880-1948), Henryk Elzenberg (born 1887), Wincenty Lutosławski (1863-1954)[112], Piotr Massonius (1863-1945). Michał Sobeski (1877-1939). Mścisław Wartenberg (1868-1938). Adam Żółtowski (1881-1958).

There was no clear-cut line of division between the scientifically – and traditionally-minded thinkers, since between the two extremes there were other groups and individuals in some respects closer to the former and in other respects to the latter (e.g. Helena Kończewska (1887-1959) and Jan Leszczyński). But the division was real and important. The younger people who studied in the interwar period, were trained in the shadow of this division and had to make their choice between the two main trends – the modern and the traditionalistic. With very few exceptions, their choice was in favour of the former.

Husserl’s phenomenology has exercised a powerful influence in Poland. This concerns, however, almost exclusively, the first phase of Husserl’s philosophy of essence, expounded in Logische Untersuchungen. Husserl’s devastating criticism of psychologism in logic, his analysis of meaning and his phenomenologically-descriptive method of what is ‘given’ were incorporated into the common body of philosophical knowledge, accepted and used in philosophical investigations. Husserl’s criticism of nominalism and empiricism found fewer supporters, and his phenomenological method by means of which he strived to establish a final basis for all science and philosophy had only one. He was Roman Ingarden (born 1893). one of Husserl’s most prominent followers and one of the most original minds in Poland in the first half of this century. Ingarden was and has remained a phenomenological, but he did not follow Husserl into transcendental idealism. He came early to the parting of the ways with Husserl and devoted his energies to ontological studies through which he made his way back to realism in the theory of knowledge[113]. The old issue: idealism versus realism, is the subject of what seems to be his life work and of which the two first volumes appeared in 1947-1948[114]. What he did before the last war, now appears to him as a preparatory study, the nature of which he did not fully realise at that time and which had to precede coming to grips with the main issue.

In the period between the two wars Ingarden’s activities followed two main lines. He evolved a theory of literary works and he extended it later to other kinds of art works (music, painting, architecture, film) in a number of books and essays[115]. They were not concerned with aesthetic values or aesthetic experience, although they might or did lead to them; they were, as Ingarden put it, ‘aesthetically neutral’. What Ingarden was interested in was the formal structure of a work of art, its mode of existence and in what its mode of existence differs from that of concrete real objects. Ingarden established a whole realm of such nonautonomous intentional objects (in Husserl’s sense) whose specific formal structure and existence were contrasted with the objects of the external world and indirectly revealed and elucidated the ontological status of the latter. In another series of studies Ingarden examined the autonomous concrete real objects, the objects of the outside world, and subjected their formal structure and mode of existence to a searching phenomenological analysis[116].

Ingarden combined these ontological studies with criticism of what he called the ‘logistic reconstruction of philosophy, as practised in the Warsaw school and the Vienna Circle. His share in the critical examination of Kotarbiński’s reism, in particular of Kotarbiński’s reistic interpretation of psychological statements, has already been mentioned. He turned later to the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle[117]. Ingarden’s criticism was not limited to the pointing out of inconsistencies or unresolved problems, which he extricated from their concealment behind the imposing structure of the doctrine; he saw in them the result of an exaggerated reliance on formalistic methods, cut off from the intuitive sources of philosophical knowledge, without which the most perfect formal instrument must ultimately reveal its insufficiency. As Ingarden saw it, the scientific current in philosophy, initiated by the Vienna Circle, often dodged great theoretical issues instead of facing them.

Ingarden was the first or one of the first who noticed that the verification theory of meaning supported by the Vienna Circle was untenable. He pointed out that on principles accepted by the Vienna Circle metalogical assertions, that is, the whole logic of science, were meaningless as much as any other meaningless statement rejected by logical positivists on account of its being unverifiable. Moreover, verifiability and unverifiability were no criteria of meaning. If a statement is said to be unverifiable, we must first somehow apprehend its meaning to reach the conclusion that it is not verifiable. More generally, to carry out any logical analysis we have to be in possession of some knowledge distinct from the knowledge about the physical world and irreducible to what can be learnt by the methods of the empirical sciences. This is the reason why metalogical statements are unverifiable, and, therefore, meaningless in Carnap’s sense. The procedure of verification cannot be described in physicalist terms, the meaning, an immanent attribute of a statement, is not something physical and thus must be independent of the method of its verification. The logical reconstruction of philosophy, undertaken by the Vienna Circle, led to the liquidation of philosophy, resulting from the acceptance of some unproven dogmas, as a matter of fact, of a metaphysical nature. What logical positivism set out to eliminate from philosophy, it cannot achieve without destroying itself in the course of this elimination and without invalidating any kind of philosophy, including the logic of science.

S. I. Witkiewicz (1885-1939), a philosopher by vocation and not by education, was not attached to any particular school, either in Poland or abroad. Apart from Chwistek, he was the most colourful personality on the Polish philosophical scene. A painter, playwright, literary and artistic critic, writer, explorer of various paradis artificiels, he turned finally to philosophy which for a few years before his death – he perished by his own hand at the beginning of the war-became his chief preoccupation. Compared with philosophy, art, literature, morals, seemed to be immaterial and somehow futile in their failure to face the ultimate issues of human existence[118].

To say the least, Witkiewicz is not easy to read and understand, his ‘theoretical structures display errors of spelling’ to use Kotarbiński’s dictum. He was ignored by many and admired by a few, but the latter belonged to the most prominent Polish thinkers. He was not content with a plural reality which according to Chwistek obtrudes itself upon us[119], and tried to get at what is behind it, the reality more real than any of its manifestations. Thus he was led to an ontology growing up and groping into a metaphysical system whose originality and depth aroused admiration of those who in principle were hostile to metaphysical speculations.

Witkiewicz called it ‘biologic materialism’, and others ‘materialistic monadology’. He thought that only something extended in time and space could exist, but this something is not purely material in the ordinary sense from which life and consciousness emerge by an interplay of mechanical changes. Witkiewicz’s materialism was anti-mechanistic and anti-dialectical. Everything in the world that exists autonomously is either an individual alive or an agglomeration of such individuals. Sentient bodies are clearly the former, the so-called inanimate objects cannot but be the latter (otherwise biological materialism would have become primitive animism); they are inanimate but comprise sentient individuals. These somewhat startling opinions were reached by accepting the common sense view as the starting point, by comparing various theories intended to make intelligible this view, by eliminating from these theories what seemed to be extravagant, by inferences from the most general premisses which led to the ‘inescapable’ conclusions in the sense that upon their rejection we would have been faced by something incomprehensible. It is in these various procedures, arbitrary as they may be, from which materialistic monadology emerges as the only solution left, that Witkiewicz showed the power and penetration of his mind. He acted as a stimulus by the manner he carried on his mental struggles – the lying bare of the logical consequences of what he believed to be the case – and not by the results which he obtained. The latter fall to the ground as soon as anyone dissents from the premisses to which Witkiewicz assented.

It is perhaps not surprising that philosophy of life had no supporters among academic philosophers. Its Polish representatives were scholars who being eminent in some other disciplines contributed to philosophy on the sidelines. Life-philosophers incarnated more than anybody else the anti-rationalistic tendencies in modern culture, denounced by Chwistek in his Limits of Science. They wished to return to some more fundamental life experiences and to explore knowledge revealed in them, which they set against the soul-destroying analytical spirit of philosophy and barren scientific rationalism.

Life-philosophers in Poland were under the preponderant influence of German life-philosophy – of Dilthey, Spranger, Heidegger – to a lesser extent of Bergson and later for a short period of French existentialist thinkers. The most original among them was Zygmunt Łempicki, who being a historian of German literature included in his studies also borderline problems between literature and philosophy and often crossed the line into the field of philosophy of culture. Other exponents of life-philosophy were J. M. Rozwadowski (1867-1935), professor of linguistics, Bogdan Suchodolski (born 1903), an educationist, and also Stefan Kołaczkowski (1887-1940), a historian of literature. Suchodolski abandoned philosophy of life and by way of existentialism has finally become a Marxist-Leninist.

Methodologically, life-philosophers and the adherents of traditionalistic philosophy on the one hand, the Warsaw school on the other, stood poles apart. Philosophy of life and existentialism include strong irrationalistic ingredients and renounce scientific method in the above defined sense. Łempicki, Rozwadowski, Suchodolski left hardly any mark on academic philosophy in Poland. Their influence was much greater among the literary and artistic circles.

In the academic world sociology was the successful rival to philosophy of life conceived as a philosophy of culture. In the person of Florian Znaniecki, a life philosopher in his youth and an empirical sociologist in his mature age, the two trends merged and produced a theory of culture closer to experience and facts of social life. Znaniecki was a determined ‘dualist’ and proclaimed the existence of a sharp contrast between the natural sciences on the one hand, the humanities, the social or cultural sciences on the other. He was criticised from both sides, by life-philosophers in the name of the humanities and by the Warsaw school on behalf of the natural sciences.

While life-philosophers emphasised the differences of the subject-matter and methods which in their opinion separated the natural and the cultural sciences, an opposite tendency appeared in one of the disciplines that uncontestably should be counted as part and parcel of the cultural sciences. In the philosophy of law a trend against the splitting up of various branches of study and for their gradual fusion became clearly perceptible.

Philosophy of law is not a well defined subject. It is used here in the sense introduced by Leon Petrażycki, who differentiated between jurisprudence, the so-called dogmatic jurisprudence in particular, and the theory or philosophy of law. The first deals with the logical interdependence of legal norms, the second examines their origin and foundations in the facts of social life. This is a rough distinction which will later become a little more precise. It is clear that the theory or philosophy of law, as defined by Petrażycki, is closely associated with social psychology and sociology.

Leon Petrażycki (1867-1931) was the dominant figure in the philosophy of law in the inter-war period. He spent most of his life in Russia, where he taught at the Kiev and Petersbourg universities; N. S. Timasheff calls him justly a RussoPolish scholar. He returned to Warsaw after the restoration of Polish independence in 1918 and until his death he held a chair at the university there. He wrote in German and Russian; his main works were only later translated into Polish. In Russia he created an entire school, from which came P.A. Sorokin, Max Laserson, G. D. Gurvitch, N. S. Timasheff. In Poland he had not only a large number of followers among legal thinkers, among whom the most prominent was Jerzy Lande (1886-1954), but also influenced the methodologists of the Warsaw school, above all Kotarbiński, by his ideas and theories in the field of social and political sciences[120].

For Petrażycki law was not solely or even mainly a body of precepts, supported by the social controls which a politically organised society applies for the enforcement of these precepts. This is an important but a secondary and, as it were, negative aspect of law. Its primary function is to determine people’s behaviour by implanting in them certain permanent dispositions. This can be achieved because there exist what Petrażycki called ‘legal experiences’ or ‘legal phenomena’. They differ from other experiences, in particular those of moral nature, by their imperative-attributive character. In the case of a legal experience what I feel to be my obligation I also experience as somebody’s right. Legal norms should not be looked for in the outside world or in the realm of abstract entities; their peculiar content manifests itself in human experience. Only a part of legal experiences become ‘objectivised’ to make up a body of law in the practical sense, a system of prescriptions recognised as being obligatory and considered justiciable. The latter can be examined by means of logical analysis, the former require the methods of psychology, social psychology and sociology, which must also be applied to the examination of causal relations between legal and other social phenomena. Petrażycki and his followers initiated the investigations and studied the relations between law on the one hand, morality, political and economic organisation on the other. They threw new light on the social function of law and its role in the evolution of human societies.

Unlike morality, law creates in man not only the concept of obligation with respect to others but also that of other people’s obligations to himself. By providing him with a sense of his rights, law makes of man a citizen. Since law might supplant old dispositions, change motives of behaviour and implant new ones, jurisprudence is an important instrument of social evolution. If it is rightly used, it brings about self-adjustment of individuals within the society and thus paves the way for progress which can be evaluated by the decrease of the use of force and violence[121].

Czesław Znamierowski (born 1888) was concerned, above all, with the logical analysis of legal concepts. His interests are wide and include philosophy, sociology, political science and law. He is a great admirer of British empirical philosophers; he translated into Polish Hobbes, Hume, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore. His interest in law seems to be basically of a moral nature, and he has lately become a moral philosopher.

In the inter-war period he was more attracted by logical problems of law, to which he applied the methods of modern formal logic. He was at that time the only legal thinker who had acquired a thorough knowledge of modern formal logic and tried to do in law what the Warsaw school was doing in philosophy. At first distrusted, he has eventually won the day. ‘Logic for lawyers’, and this means modern formal logic, has been flourishing in Poland in recent years. Many share credit for it, but its originator was Znamierowski.

Using logical means Znamierowski declared war on conceptual confusions, terminological ambiguities and abstract entities, with which the traditional jurisprudence has been burdened. Unlike Petrażycki, who in a positivistic fashion recommended going back to psychological and social facts, Znamierowski saw the remedy in the reconstruction of the legal language, in unequivocal definitions, and in the application of the deductive method, which would replace the man-made tangle of hopelessly intricate and involved problems by a simple theoretical construction.

With some exceptions, the Warsaw school was interested in analytical and systematic philosophy, and not in its history. The capital of historical studies was Cracow University. Cracow was also the seat of the Polish Academy of Science and Learning, which encouraged such studies and set up a commission for research on the history of philosophy in Poland. Most of the historians of philosophy either received their education in Cracow or were in some way or other connected with Cracow University. Its leadership was recognised by Władysław Tatarkiewicz (born 1886), the most eminent historian of that period, who himself held the chair at Warsaw University.

Tatarkiewicz, who is also a moral philosopher, a historian of art and aesthetics[122], gave the first Polish universal history of philosophy from Thales to the outbreak of the Second World War, of which the two volumes appeared in 1931 and the third, comprising philosophy in the twentieth century, in 1950[123]. It is an impressive achievement, clear in construction, rich in information, concise in style, elegant and vivid in the presentation of problems and personalities. It conveys admirably the movement of philosophical thought, its conquest of partial truths which are criticised, rejected and taken up again in reconstructed and expanded form.

Heinrich wrote an outline of the history of philosophy, which covers antiquity and the Middle Ages[124]. It is more modest in scope than Tatarkiewicz’s threevolume work and scholarly austere. It is a history written by a philosopher who, relying exclusively on his own research, reflects on the history of his subject in order to clarify his own views.

The historian who won an international reputation for his studies on the philosophy of the fourteenth century was the learned mediaevalist Konstanty Michalski (1879-1947). He was the teacher of many historians, among whom were the already mentioned Salamucha, the historian of logic; Świeżawski, the historian of metaphysics; and Marian Heitzman. The latter together with Bogdan Kieszkowski made philosophy of the Renaissance their special subject of historical studies[125].

The most versatile and original historian of Greek philosophy was Adam Krokiewicz (born 1890). He translated the writings of Lucretius, Sextus Empiricus and Plotinus, wrote on the doctrine of the Stoics, Sceptics and of Epicurus, to whom he devoted a large monographic volume.

Besides Krokiewicz many classical scholars gained high reputations for their studies on ancient philosophy. Tadeusz Zieliński (1859-1944) is best known abroad for his book on Cicero, Cicero im Wandel der Jahrhunderte, first published in Leipzig in 1897 and since then reprinted several times; but in Poland he is remembered above all for his series of books on Greek and Roman religion, and for another series on the literary and political history of ancient Greece and Rome. Tadeusz Sinko (born 1877), the highest Polish authority on classical scholarship in the period between the two wars, is the author of a monumental history of Greek literature (published 1931-1948), which no student of ancient philosophy can ignore. Jan Sajdak (born 1882), translator of Minucius Felix and Tertullian, edited a collection of Polish translations of Patristic literature (24 volumes in the period 1924-1947) and was an authority on Gregory of Nazianze[126]. Jerzy Siwecki, a classical scholar and historian of ancient philosophy, who won distinction at an early age, was killed in action in 1939.

Hindu philosophy had in Stanisław Schayer (1899-1942) an internationally known scholar. Schayer and Adam Kunst published important studies on Indian logic. They were both students of Łukasiewicz[127].

Among the historians of the modern era Ludwik Chmaj (1888-1959), Narcyz Łubnicki (born 1904), and Adam Żółtowski distinguished themselves by the scope of their knowledge and the penetrating insight of their contributions. The first was an authority on Cartesianism and the Reformation in Poland, the second – on positivism and dialectical materialism, the third – on German idealism and the so-called national philosophy. Żółowski, together with Wartenberg and Łubnicki, was the most prominent representative of the historians of philosophical thought for whom the historical and systematic interest in a given system – that of Hegel, Kant, and positivism respectively – coalesced and provided an opportunity for expounding their own views.

A considerable number of the historians of modern philosophy trained in the inter-war period perished during the war. Those whose premature death is particularly mourned include Bolesław Miciński (1911-1943), Mieczysław Milbrandt, killed in action, Antoni Pański and Jakub Rajgrodzki, murdered in the Wilno prison and the Warsaw ghetto[128].