Letter to Władysław Tatarkiewicz written 21.03.1959

Rkp 1529

Rabka, 21 March 1959

Dear Władysław,

            I’ve come here for three days to relax a bit after the flu, because I’m still running a temperature in the late afternoons. We’re staying in Stasin, the Jagiellonian University’s house. Very pleasant here, with splendid weather.

            I received your letter yesterday evening upon my return from the University. I thank you for the letter and accept it in the sense that the details I allowed myself to point out to you were unintentional on the author’s part. I was convinced of this in any case when writing my letter, and I apologise if the letter gave you any other impression. That sentence about the ‘agreement’ which prevails here in relation to myself concerns, of course, the Twardowskians – with exceptions, of course, e.g. Czeżowski – who, while generally not very creative, are very ambitious and cannot bear someone who is not a Twardowskian sensu stricto [(x) being capable of producing more than them] – however, at moments when they need me, e.g. when it comes to paying tribute to the master, they turn to me for help. Recently such a situation arose, but I refused them. And I know that you don’t share these intentions or connections. Also, I should have, following this sentence about the ‘agreement’, added a line to the effect that I have never believed that you were part of it, though meanwhile certain details of the new edition of the third volume, and of the first as well, had aroused my doubts as to whether you had not succumbed to the pressure of this group of people. But then I refrained from adding this sentence, not wishing to offend you. If that was the result, I’m very sorry; that was far from being my intention.

            I think the reason for what happened is that you didn’t want to occupy yourself with this edition and relinquished to others the implementation of these changes, or others. [(x) I once recommended a reprint without any changes whatsoever. Once certain changes have been made, it’s necessary to accept responsibility for the second edition.] The result of that is not good, because, e.g., once it was possible to introduce my son’s papers, then it needed to be done correctly. His good paper, as I now realise, was omitted, whereas those which bear a stigma were included; i.e. there’s no trace, unless I’m mistaken, of his article on Descartes – although it may be mentioned in the list of authors in this volume – whereas both ‘party’ papers ‒ at least the one about Copernicus ‒ are included, to a great extent, undeservingly. It is precisely for this reason that I’m going to try to insert a correction that they are mistakenly listed in the index as my papers, since readers find R. S. there. And I’ve already had enough unpleasantness in France because of the way my son’s article was published in La Pensée.

            You write that only historical works were included. But my papers on Aristotle’s Poetics and Lessing’s Laocoon were of exactly such a character. And I was already sensitive about the paper on Poetics because of the behaviour of Sinko, who personally praised it in my presence, and then left it out of the new edition of his translation; presumably, given his memory, he hadn’t forgotten it. [(x) My best paper on neo-positivism, in French, in Revue Philosophique, is omitted, whereas a popular little article in Marchołt is mentioned, etc.] And it’s not true that your History covers only up to the year 1945, because not only do the lines devoted to Controversy [Over the Existence of the World], which, after all, appeared after 1945 (1947/8), testify against this, but those quite numerous supplements to the literature also concern works published after 1950, such as my son’s papers. The page on which there is no mention of my work on Poetics was not a photocopy, but a reprint, because new titles which were not included in the first edition can be found on it. Simply, the literature was supplemented in such a way as to leave clear gaps, creating the impression of partiality.

            The author of Volume III, in writing it, was – forgive this declaration – too comfortable. He took Polish philosophy generally for granted. In my opinion, no German or French or, ultimately, English author would have done so, i.e. treated his own philosophy ut aliquid fecisse videatur [as action for the sake of action]. In general, the Germans exaggerate in pushing German philosophy to the forefront of modern European philosophy. But to exaggerate by treating Polish philosophy of the twentieth century as though it weren’t worth reading is an entirely different matter. After all, if you were to able to manage to read even my Controversy, you would not have been able to treat it as you did, dedicating at the same time, for example, so much space, given the very dubious value of their philosophy, to Heidegger and Sartre. The treatment of individual authors is, in any case, very uneven, not covering the whole in a synthetic manner, only concerning some fragment. This is the case with e.g. N. Hartmann, whose role is, in my opinion, anyway, overrated in relation to e.g. Max Scheler (similar to Heidegger in relation to Husserl and Scheler). Already after the first edition, I had told you that, of classical phenomenology (meaning: without Heidegger), only the programme remained, whereas there were no achievements at all. Similarly, it seems to me that the way in which Brentano’s position is presented is compatible with the way it was presented by Twardowski (who liquidated Brentano the philosopher and made a descriptive psychologist of him). Your presentation does not take into account the entire posthumous output of Brentano, which finally showed the issues he was occupied with. Nor does the presentation of Bergson’s views take into account a series of his central statements, which finally enable us to understand the relationship between his theories of intuition and the intellect. Similarly partial is the presentation of J. S. Mill, which fails to reveal the essential greatness of this philosopher, even if he is rather uncongenial to me personally. I understand that writing this volume was a great work of art, but the 8 years dividing the first edition from the second might have contributed to the removal of various deficiencies that may have appeared in the first edition. It’s a pity that this did not happen. This volume teaches us far too little about the content of views and their foundations, while containing too many of their characteristics, which are often unreliable because they do not derive from the content of the presented views. The details resulting from the fact that the author did not himself see to the supplementation of the literature and evidently left it in other not very meticulous hands constitute a shortcoming that leads to these unpleasant reactions, e.g. mine, but these details can be removed in the future, even if the effects over the coming years of these 25,000 copies bearing these bibliographic imperfections cannot be removed. But I don’t believe that the most important thing is to re-shape the series of individual chapters placing a series of philosophical positions in a false light. If it had been a simple reprint, the author could shrug off his responsibility, but the substantive changes are not limited to Volume III, and thus the author bears responsibility for those places where changes were needed but none were made.

            Forgive this sincere and open criticism. I think, however, that our friendly relations entitle me to offer it. I cannot take the position, which sometimes occurs to me, that this is actually a popular book of general cultural importance. It is the only original Polish history of philosophy, and too much depends on it.

                                                                   I send a cordial handshake

                                                                                                               /signature/ Your Roman


(x) Ingarden’s handwritten additions, placed in the margins or at the bottom of the page