Letter to Henryk Skolimowski written 06.11.1967
Prof. Roman Ingarden
temp. address Oslo 2, Oscars gate 60
later Cracow, Biskupia 14
Oslo, 6 November 1967
n Prof. Jordan sent me your book on Polish analytical philosophy. I’m giving lectures here, therefore I don’t have much time, but I’ve looked through your book and wanted to write to you that I regard your having written such a generally informative book as a service to Polish philosophy. I wish you success as well. I thank you at the same time for devoting a couple of pages to my achievements.
n I’ve noticed some errors; you may find my directing attention to them here useful. Well, after my doctorate, in January 1918, I returned immediately to Poland and first worked for many years in Polish middle schools (in Lublin, Warsaw, and Toruń); then in 1924 I achieved habilitation in Lviv, and lectured there from 1925 until the outbreak of the war in 1939. From 1945 to 1963 I lectured at UJ [Uniwersytet Jagielloński; the Jagiellonian University] with a break from 1950 (autumn) to 1957 (until March), but it wasn’t until September 1957 that I once again became the head of the philosophy department at UJ. For four years I was a professor at the University of Warsaw, without the right to lecture (1953–57). It was not me who conceived purely intentional objects as the third form of existence; this had already been done by Twardowski, and subsequently Husserl attempted to introduce them into the real world. In opposition to this, I wrote my Spór [o istnienie świata; Controversy over the Existence of the World]; actually, in Das literarische Kunstwerk [The Literary Work of Art], I took the first step in this direction.
n Tatarkiewicz, like me, didn’t lecture for 7 years; in Cracow he never lectured on art history; in 1945/6 he lectured as a guest for some time on aesthetics in Polish studies. However, he essentially lived in Cracow until 1957, while retaining his old flat in Warsaw. Later he relocated permanently to Warsaw. In my opinion, he, like me, has nothing to do with what is now called ‘Polish analytical philosophy’, i.e. with philosophising logistics of the Warsaw variety. Nor can I agree that my philosophy is a synthesis of phenomenology and that ‘analytical philosophy’. The latter was, until recently, simply the Polish form of Viennese neo-positivism, albeit created independently and, in part, even earlier than the latter. Of course, I don’t include Twardowski and those of his students who remained descriptive psychologists until the end among them. It was only those who followed Łukasiewicz, Leśniewski, and Kotarbiński who exhibited more and more positivist tendencies, as did Ajdukiewicz, who only in recent years, since the war, has begun to distance himself from the ‘Warsaw’ school. I’ve neither learned nor taken anything from the whole Warsaw school. Until the outbreak of war, I fought them constantly; my method of philosophising was always different and I continually defended it; I fought against the mathematisation of philosophy, against breaking philosophy up into so-called philosophical sciences, etc., and in my opinion, I was always capable of analysing better than they could. There is no fundamental difference in technique between my first book about Bergson, written in the years 1914 to 1917, and my later works. I was also active for fifteen [years] in the Lviv area, where I taught students how to conduct analyses of philosophical issues; this applies to the young generation (Twardowski’s last students, and to some extent those of Ajdukiewicz as well; I led the theory of cognition and aesthetics sections of the Polish Philosophical Society for years and spoke there at hundreds of meetings). Unfortunately, this generation was largely wiped out by the war. Never, though, did I persuade anyone to profess the same assertions as those I attempted to formulate and justify; however, the style of my papers has been, in significant measure, adopted by those who have been fighting me for decades. If you write that I am clearer than Husserl, it’s only because I’m a member of the next generation of phenomenologists, Husserl’s disciples, who were able to make use of his achievements and move on, which was easier than at the time he started the whole job. In Poland, nobody from the so-called analytical school knows how to carry out such an analysis as the phenomenologists did. Likewise, in England, e.g. G. E. Moore or, later, Austin (as well as Wittgenstein, in the later phase), although they carried out analyses, this was, in relation to what Husserl and his students did, always only a beginning. At most, Moore, in his old age, was able to highlight issues in his lectures, but unable to solve them analytically as the phenomenologists did (of course not all of them) Also, what B. Russell did, apart from his logic, is, as descriptive analysis, rather primitive, and sometimes very ambiguous.
n Much could be said on this topic. ‘Analytical philosophy’, among Anglo-Saxons today, is primarily a certain theoretical position with a tendency derived therefrom to shift all material issues to the linguistic plane. In Poland, generally, this wasn’t accepted – at most, in the thirties, when philosophising Polish logicians concluded an offensive-defensive alliance with the Viennese circle; after 1934, at any rate, they began to withdraw from the alliance. It seems to me that placing the logically-oriented Polish philosophers of the twentieth century under the umbrella of analytical philosophy is unjustified, and that this placement is – to the extent that it emerges from Poland today! – a new form of the search for an international offensive-defensive alliance, which, due to the extremely imprecise character of this foreign [‘analytical’] philosophy and, at the same time, its great influence abroad, seems to be beneficial in terms of propaganda and also simplifies the situation in Poland for many philosophers, who no longer are stigmatised as being positivists and neo-positivists, notwithstanding that, in my opinion, a number of eminent Polish Marxists are, in the depths of their souls, neo-positively oriented.
n So much for my marginal remarks, not so much, perhaps, about your interesting book, as about those here in Poland who, for some time, have been willingly appearing in analytical philosophy under this name.
n When I’ve read your book in its entirety, I’ll take the liberty of writing to you again. But that won’t be until after my return to Poland.
n For now, I send expressions of genuine esteem and cordial greetings
I’d be very grateful if you wouldn’t mind sending me offprints of your articles.
I’m leaving for Poland on 27 November of this year.
Postscript (14 November).
n In deciding – after a few days – to send this letter, I’d like to add that – being of a different opinion regarding the relationship of my work to ‘analytical philosophy’ in general, and to Polish analytical philosophy in particular – I’m by no means making any accusations against you. I understand very well your good intentions, which consist of recommending me in some way to analytical philosophers abroad, as you’re of the opinion that this philosophy constitutes so-called academic philosophy of the highest class. It also has such a reputation in the Anglo-Saxon world, especially in the USA. And from this point of view, I can only thank you for your good intentions in relation to me. However, my opinion about analytical philosophy, both Polish and non-Polish, differs fundamentally from this global opinion (in this regard, I’m not at all enthusiastic about the so-called existentialism of different provenance, German, French or other. I consider the appearance of Heidegger under the initial nomenclature of ‘phenomenology’ a misfortune for phenomenology.).
n I believe that so-called analytical philosophy – with all its tendencies, which are fundamentally worthy of recognition, to refine philosophical research – has chosen a false path to this goal. The consequence was a terrible evisceration of philosophy, stripping it of all the problems essential to it, and a profound falsification of philosophical issues themselves. It’s possible that Wittgenstein himself, in the later years of his research, understood this, and in his Philosophical Investigation he began to understand that renouncing colloquial speech and replacing it with artificial formalised systems, leads nowhere, even in mathematics, just as the whole physicalist theory of language led nowhere. So he himself began to seek philosophical issues, even within the field of analysis of language. And the role of these Investigations actually depends on its realisation of the existence of certain issues; it’s only that in his search – which is in fact very closely related to what phenomenologists had had their eyes on for some fifty years – he’s hopelessly powerless, and extremely primitive in his results, just as, in another field, Austin, who is very much admired in England as well as in the USA, is powerless, e.g. in the book Sense and Sensibilia. Research conducted in this area in Göttingen before the first war supplied results that went much further than everything that can be found in Austin, let alone, later, Husserl.
n You see, sir, how greatly I differ from you in my opinion of both Polish and foreign ‘analytical philosophy’, and thus I defend myself against what you regard as praise for me. Although very grateful for this intention, I can’t resist defending myself against this praise. I don’t think you’ll hold this against me. And I’d be glad if you would undertake the reading of the second volume, despite its 1,000 pages, of Spór – but in German, as this edition is in many xxxxx matters significantly more advanced than the Polish edition.
I enclose expressions of genuine esteem and cordial greetings