v v v Zakopane, 1/12/1955
Dear Ms. Irena,
v v v above all I send you cordial greetings and wishes for your daughter’s quick recovery. I am glad that the disease took a mild form, as it can be a very nasty one. And one has to be very cautious, especially at the end, so that there are no complications. You probably have a good doctor, so what can I, a layman, really say. But maybe I can be allowed to contribute this as no more than a warning of a father who has had to care for three children of his own. Moreover, scarlet fever, in the presence the new remedies has become rather benevolent, so I have no doubt that everything is going to be well. I would just like to express my sympathy for you in these difficult days. But, as the Germans say: kleine Kinder, kleine Sorgen etc. – may you never have any “grosse Sorgen”.
v v And now for the translation.
v v As for the matter of the lack of any indication of Mr. K.’s contribution to the creation of my book, it is a matter of personal approach. If Mr. K. were to write a few words to me privately, I would consider the issue resolved. But that did not happen. When I was writing my last letter, I was convinced that you would mention your cooperation on the “Groundwork for the Metaphysics”. I do not believe I am mistaken in claiming that I have thanked you privately for all the effort you put into this work, regardless of the fact that I often disagreed with your approach to the translation or suggestions for corrections of translations of others. If I failed to mention that in my foreword “from the translator”, it happened for two reasons: from what I can recall I wrote the aforementioned word from the translator, or “corrector” before any proofing by the Editorial Office even began. Secondly, when I saw the final proofs – so when I could have added something to my introduction, the copy contained your name as – I believe – the editor of the book, at its very beginning. Therefore, it seemed to me that your cooperation rights were preserved, and it did not seem to me that I should be adding anything to it. And it was only when I received the printed copy that I found out that your name is not there. What has occurred and why – I am not sure. But as a result, nothing more could be done on my part. – Anyway, I myself did not aim at including my name as a member of the Editorial Committee in Spinoza’s Ethics, but it would seem to me that it should have been included in some form by the translator himself. If this had not happened, of course there would have been no offence, but I had to express my belief, not to mention in a private letter directed to you. I can even say that I think that Dańcewicz should have also been mentioned, as his contribution was undoubtedly positive and useful too.
v v As for my corrections for Leibniz. I am in absolute agreement with director Bromberg’s /or PWN Publishers’ in general/ position with on the matter. But I am not at fault /just as in the case of Spinoza’s Ethics/ – had my corrections to the book been systematically included, they would not have to have been corrected later. Here, they would not have to be corrected after typesetting had I received the proof beforehand, but I did not; apparently it did not occur to Ms. Cierniakówna, and I only got in the typeset proof after I asked for it myself. What to do now? I have no idea how many of my corrections Iza accepted or rejected. And which ones. Among those I suggested, there were probably only relatively few that must be included for purely factual reasons. Factual, meaning those which remove translation errors. Others – of stylistic nature, could probably be omitted, if need be. I really regret that you cannot be at the office. You could select these crucial corrections and remove the rest. I am ready to take responsibility for these substantive changes, as in I am willing to cover the costs of super-correction for these, and not for the others. I probably should have been more persistent in demanding the first proof, instead I waited passively for it to be sent to me, and in the end, I only found out about it being conducted ex post. The entire matter is of course quite unpleasant
v v Regarding Mr. K.’s “Introduction” to Leibniz.
v v I do not have the impression that my postulates fail to take into account the introduction’s author’s different opinion. Or that they – as you say – disregard the general attitude of Marxist methodology /I do not have my text here at hand, so I cannot really check right now/. You know that I, unlike the present times, recognize the right of every scholar to their own opinion his. It seems to me that the criticism carried out by Marxists would be much more effective if it assumed some other forms. I must confess that I find the current forms honestly jarring. And it seems inappropriate to me when it comes to such authors as e.g. Leibniz /even though I absolutely do not share his views on metaphysics/. And it seems to me that our publishing house is at a level where it should avoid certain expressions and ways of treating individuals who, after all, belong to the circle of creators of European culture, in particular of the modern world. I also do not understand why Leibniz should be enduring rudeness for the very same things that are celebrated e.g. in Lessing, who undoubtedly borrowed his views from Leibniz. I strongly believe that regardless of whether it is accepted or not, it is my duty as a scholar and a member of the Polish and European scientific community to honestly express what I think with regards to this matter.
v v I understand fully well that Mr. K. had a very difficult task to fulfill and that as far as mastering the material goes, he fulfilled it successfully. I understand that you cannot fit everything into one short introduction, but that is why I proposed that what should be said about Leibniz’s philosophy be broken down into a few different introductions. What I wrote about Leibniz’s development, I wrote mainly because the contents of the book do not agree with everything that in the introduction, as in this phase Leibniz was different from when he was writing his other works. I am not a Leibniz’s follower, but I read quite a few of his works over the years, and it does not seem right to me to treat Leibniz as one block, when, in fact, he worked for several dozen years, under different influences and developed himself and his thought greatly. Knowledge about Leibniz is generally quite incomplete in the world right now, so I agree that it is a difficult task to achieve a somewhat satisfying introduction. But my request to show Leibniz a./ in view of his development and b./ for this development and the framework of each of his concepts to be shown in the light of the historical processes occurring at the time – is not so much a postulate of mine as it is precisely – the right Marxist postulate, wherever history is being written. Considering Leibniz against the background of the year 1954 can probably only take place where a detailed substantive discussion is carried out, but such substantive discussion cannot be the task of “introduction” to the translation of a single work of the author. Perhaps I am wrong when I disagree that I do not take into account the postulates of the moment, but I am a scholar and as such I have a duty to present my position as a scholar, otherwise I would be guilty of a transgression not only against science but also against my social role. My remarks may be rejected, I can even say I wrote them fully convinced it would happen, but I could not write what I believe to be untrue or be silent.
v v And what about Leibniz’s logic and its role? I did not read what Russell wrote about it. And for many years I have been rather vehemently opposed to all those things Russell has written in his long life. Russellists have always been my fiercest enemies – only now they generally do not admit that they used to be Russellists. Many years ago, I read a book by Cuturat who I am also not a theoretical ally of and whose position on the foundations of mathematics /his and other conventionalists’ outside of and in Poland/ I fought for many years. I was also brutally attacked for it /in Poland/ more than once. Today, many representatives of research on the foundations of mathematics in Poland, up to 50%, agree with my opinion, but they do not remember it.
v v I only write about this because if the assessment of Leibniz’s logical research seemed unfair to me, it was because I read some Leibniz – years ago – and it seemed to me that his effort in the 17th century was admirable in this respect. /The same goes for Pascal in L’esprit geometrique/ Can Leibniz – as I will I express myself between us – be kicked for it? Has the author of the Introduction read Leibniz’s logical works? It seems to me that if that were the case his counterargument would have been different. This is the part about which I have the most important substantive reservations. I do not think I should be alone in this, although my arguments for Leibniz’s achievements are for sure different from the arguments of our logicians. It seems to me that it should be checked again, the criticism set more in reality and toned down in form.
v v Do I agree with the publishing of Mr. K.’s Introduction? I shall answer: if I were the one who has the right to decide about it as I was when I was the editor of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Translation Library – I would decide not to publish the introduction if it were to be in the form which I reviewed it in. I would urge the author to amend the points delineated in this letter. /First and foremost, the tone and his assessment of Leibniz’s logic/. But as head of department – I am a but a scientific advisor to the translators, besides that I just felt an it my duty to react to the decision of the presidium of the Editorial Committee and express my opinion, I have no right to protest if the Editorial Committee does not agree. But I would advise, if possible, for the sake of the author of the Introduction and the publishing house that my advice not be disregarded without consideration. Anyway, I did not claim or believe that Mr. K.’s work was devoid of any merit. On the contrary, and I think I stated that in my report. But precisely these advantages should not be overshadowed by the other details I have pointed out. It may be that today it is already too late to fulfill all those postulates of mine. But maybe just the ones mentioned here could still be implemented.
v v And now in conclusion: I would like to avoid mentioning here some facts from the past. But I have always been convinced of your friendly attitude towards me and I myself have also not changed my friendly inclination towards you for the 20 years that we have known each other, so I can only be happy about you invoking our friendly relationship.
Cordial greetings and wishes for your daughter’s fast recovery