In Lviv, św. Zofii [St Sophia], 46. Tuesday, 6 February 1923.
I cordially thank you for your letter of the 27th of last month. I’ll reply in the order of the issues raised therein.
At the moment, I don’t have your polemic with Kotarbiński at hand, having lent it to one of my students. As I recall, one of the germs of the definition of philosophy led me to guess that you think of philosophy as a science that studies the essence of things, whereas the other led me to guess that in it, you see a discipline dealing with something else ‒ and it is precisely here that my memory now fails me. When I get the essay back, I’ll supplement this response. Please just remind me about this issue in your next letter.
As for the habilitation thesis, the law requires it to be written in a scientific manner and to constitute an advance on some scientific question, i.e. that it would bring the Author’s own contributions to bear regarding the issue under examination. Everything else is secondary. Thus, in my opinion, you can carry out your second project, i.e. to confine yourself to a dissertation considering the various meanings of the question ‘what is X?’ along with the potential addition of the polemic against Kotarbiński. However, I don’t, on the basis of your letter, grasp very well what kind of relationship reflections on the views of Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, and Hume on identity are supposed to have with this dissertation ‒ I understand your remarks to mean that these reflections would form a completely separate whole, which you would print completely independently of your habilitation thesis. I don’t know whether this is your intention.
Given what you’ve written about your outlandish relations with your colleagues, who are ‘outraged’ that you’re devoting yourself to original philosophical work, it’s very much in your interest to accomplish your habilitation as soon as possible. Therefore, if your paper’s been typed, please send it to me ‒ I’ll make every effort to get acquainted with it as soon as possible.
Thank you for submitting your paper for the Congress. Since the Committee of the participants in the Congress is unrestricted in terms of the selection of topics, we have no objection to the submitted topic. The deadline of 28 February applies only to the submission of the topic ‒ as for the text of the paper itself, we won’t need it at all. On the other hand, it seems we’ll ask the participants to bring short autobiographies to the Congress, so that they can be printed later, so long as no one intends to print his or her paper in extenso [Latin: in full] independently of the Congress. But in these matters, the Committee hasn’t yet reached its final decisions; it’ll do so in the near future.
Volume VI of [Philosophical] Yearbook is already available to me at the local University Library. If I wasn’t afraid of contributing to an even greater dispersal of your time, I’d ask you for a report for Philosophical Movement similar to the one on Volume V. Maybe you could write it for me following your habilitation? I’d be very curious to know what you’d write on the tragedy of the phenomenological method revealed in Ms Conrad-Martius’s dissertation.
In closing, I send cordial regards and a handshake.