2009 | 4 | 27-34
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LESZEK NOWAK -OBITUARY (Wspomnienie o Leszku Nowaku)

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On 20lh of October 2009 died Leszek Nowak, one of the most creative and originai Polish philosophers. Born on 7th of January 1913, Nowak studied law (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan) and philosophy (Warsaw University). He lived to philosophize. It is not a conventional phrase but the true description of his activities. He devoted his live to philosophy. He got professor's title in 1976, at the age of 33. At that time he was the youngest professor in Poland and the author of the methodological conception - the idealizational theory of science. His theory was inspired by ideas he found in Marx's writings. He made them explicit and precise by using the language of contemporary logical philosophy. The result was the theory that offered a new, detailed and systematic picture of science. Leszek Nowak admired Marx's ideas and planned to reconstruct Marx's entire philosophical system. It soon occurred to him that Marx's social philosophy was unable to account for the functioning of the societies of so-called real socialism. Nowak retained Marx's materialism but rejected the narrow, economic view of society. In 1977 he started to work on a new, generalized social theory, which he called the non-Marxian historical materialism. In this theory real socialism occurs as the most oppressive system in the history of the hitherto known societies. One has to be bold or naive to work on such a theory in the country of real socialism. Leszek Nowak was aware of the risk but he did not decide to accept intellectual compromise and in 1979 disseminated the typescript of his book on real socialism. During the time of 'Solidarnosc' movement he spent all energy to educate union members and to reveal the oppressive nature of socialism. He was interned on 13th of December 1981 and spent a year in jail. In 1985 he was expelled from the university and in 1989 his professorship was reinstated. Extremely hard work, engagement in the 'Solidarnosc' movement, and protests during internment seriously undermined his health. In the last years Leszek Nowak was not able to teach but he painstakingly worked on his new love - metaphysics. Results of his research were published in Polish in three volumes. In the authors' view his conception represents a non-standard approach to metaphysical problems. In Polish philosophy Nowak's metaphysics can be only confronted with Roman Ingarden's 'The controversy over the existence of the world'. It is the authors' firm conviction that Leszek Nowak's place in Polish philosophy in the second half of the 20th century is defined by the following qualities: a bold search for new and original idea, laborious work to present it in a systematic way, readiness to defend it against petrifying tendencies be they scientific, political, religious or ideological.
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  • Brzezinski Jerzy, Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza, Instytut Psychologii, ul. Szamarzewskiego 89, 80-568 Poznan, Poland
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