Prof. Roman Ingarden
Krakow, Biskupia 14 c c c Krakow, 6/23/1966
c Dear Ms. Irena,
yesterday I received a letter from “Universal Knowledge” with a reformulated contract. The letter which, at least, correctly iterated my name /before, the contract was meant for “Ingard” – universal knowledge, indeed/ – contained a list of fragments from the “Critique of Pure Reason” that are to be included in the upcoming book. However, the contract does not cite the excerpts, instead it only mentions their volume.
c I am very sorry, but I cannot sign said contract. I consider sharing scraps of philosophical works with 10,000 people /because that is the supposed amount of copies/ harmful to philosophy in general, and I do not believe it would contribute anything to “universal” knowledge. No actual knowledge can be provided this way, only an illusion which is, in fact foolishness. Such “massification” of culture only produces half-wise men who will be convinced that they “know Kant”. However, despite this fundamental belief of mine, which not only concerns Kant, but also the way in which Marx and Marxists have been disseminated here in the past twenty years, I think that this state could be improved a little if the excerpts were selected from the works in a way that they gives insight into the subject matter a certain scholar dealt with and outline their position. Unfortunately, the selection of texts given to me – apart from a few exceptions – does not meet this requirement. A reader who is supposed to learn from these what issues Kant dealt with and what his main theses were, cannot learn that from the selection of texts provided to me. They are, for the most part, passages ripped out of context, not constituting any coherent whole, and you cannot really tell what their purpose is. Moreover, in most cases they were selected to illustrate considerations which are secondary or unimportant and non-specific for Kant’s work.
c I also believe – but that is in the last place as arguments go that publishing this type of selections is an action aimed against the Library of the Classics of Philosophy. Many people who will purchase this book would buy, or at least borrow, Critique itself. Reading the selection will make them convinced that they are already perfectly knowledgeable in the topic – especially since it was provided by an apparently serious company, and they would no longer be willing to buy the unabridged Critique.
c I have already declared great reservations towards similar kind of selections, several of which have already been published, wherein they chose excerpts from a few phenomenologists and, moreover, gave them to translators who knew neither the language nor the author /e.g. translation of Scheler by Ms. Piasecka/. But those also included fragments not at all characteristic for a given author which were in no way a source of information on their position or even the issues the texts themselves discussed. In this case, however, my person is involved as I was asked for consent to the reprint. I cannot agree to it.
c Of course, you can stick to your plan and translate it yourselves – without imitating my translation – then I will be powerless. At most, I can write a review, but I do not really have time for these things anymore.
c I would be grateful if you could discuss this selection again, remove the excerpts that are of little importance and replace them with significant ones. Maybe then I will be able to agree to it. For now, I am not going to reply to Universal Knowledge, instead as I am awaiting the decision, I write you, Mrs. Irena, as the person who will certainly understand the motives that guide me in this matter.
c According to what the doctor told me yesterday, I will not be coming to Warsaw on the 27th. My condition is not getting any better, and fatigue and the cold could worsen the prospects for improvement. And I would like to be able to leave for abroad in the fall.