2005 | 35 | 69-78
Article title

Catastrophism - philosophy of the 'end' or diagnosis of reality?

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The catastrophe is a phenomenon, a disastrous turning point that can be perceived both as the end of the 'old world' and the beginning of a new reality. The catastrophic changes come sudden but the catastrophe itself is not an isolated body. It has its own causes and effects. The catastrophe has obviously a large scale effects which allow us to distinguish a catastrophe from a tragedy. The first one has a general character and it refers to the tragedy rather in individual meaning. The imminent catastrophe could be predictable but only by a selected group of individuals; we call them 'Prophets'. It is necessary however to see the difference between a 'prophet' and a 'witness'. The 'prophet' himself however could be a 'witness'. The catastrophic ideology can be treated as the 'philosophy of the End'; it predicts the time of disaster and annihilation. This is a conception of the world as well as a human attitude taken toward realities that arise in cultural context of decadence and in time of moral decline. It retreats during the periods of relative prosperity and peace. The catastrophic discourse in Polish poetry and prose exemplifies some human attitudes toward an idea of the catastrophe. The pattern of decadence can be observed in a poetry of Polish 'fin de siecle' (Kazimierz Przerwa Tetmajer, Jan Kasprowicz). The lack of affirmation of the reality is expressed there by means of moral criticism. The catastrophes itself call out different human attitudes. The despair and hopelessness associated with the impression of passive dependence on history at the beginning could be replaced by an active accommodation to the drama. In such a case human being sometime accepts the role assigned to him by the lot. The attitude of despair was expressed in Polish poetry of the time of WWII (Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski) and in the prose that took its inspiration in experience of the prisoners in German concentration camps (Tadeusz Borowski). The attitude of the active accommodation to a drama could be seen in the catastrophic narration of Gustaw Herling Grudzinski.
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  • C. Wrobel, c/o Uniwersytet Jagiellonski, Instytut Filozofii, ul. Grodzka 52, 31-044 Krak√≥w, Poland
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