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2013 | 1(34) | 149–169

Article title

Spór o Kartezjusza. Polemika B. Wyszesławcewa z J. Maritainem, dotycząca znaczenia filozofii Kartezjusza dla nowożytnej duchowości europejskiej



Title variants

Discussing Descartes: The Polemics of B. Vysheslavtsev and J. Maritain Concerning the Significance of Descartes’ Philosophy for Modern European Spirituality

Languages of publication



The article deals with the debate which took place in 1931 in Paris and was published in the same year in Cahier de la Quinzaine. The main adversaries were Jacques Maritain and Boris Vysheslavtsev. The French and the Russian philosopher discussed the nature and significance of Cartesian heritage for contemporary philosophy and culture. Maritain accuses Descartes of detachment from traditional philosophy, which resulted in a grave fallacy. Vysheslavtsev in turn argues that the 17th-century philosopher set forth a path on which it is possible to overcome the errors he is accused of. His reductive method led him towards the phenomenology of the “I” and the Absolute, revealing the specificity of the relation between the two. He stopped halfway, however, assuming the two sides of that relation to be separate elements. Thus he found himself in an ambiguous position, thinking in fact more than he was able to enunciate within the intellectual culture of his time. Referring to that polemic, Nikolai Berdyaev points out that, surprisingly, it is the French Neo-Thomist who formulates a severe indictment of Descartes, while the Russian philosopher attempts to defend him. The situation appears even more intriguing in view of the hostility that Russian philosophy has always shown towards all forms of rationalism, especially artesianism. Despite that, it is the Russian religious thinker who defends the creator of modern rationalism and even incorporates some of his philosophical intuitions into his own philosophical reflections. What then does this controversy consist in? And what is it in Cartesian philosophy that Vysheslavtsev appreciated and Maritain failed to notice?







Physical description


  • Uniwersytet Jagielloński


  • B. P. Wyszesławcew, Wiecznoje w russkoj fiłosofii (1955).
  • B. P. Wyszesławcew, Etika prieobrażennogo Erosa. Probliema Zakona i Błagodati (1931).
  • H. Massis, Defence de l’Occident, Paris 1929.
  • J. Maritain, B. Vycheslavzeff, Descartes. Textes suivis de debats au Studio franco-russe, „Cahiers de la Quinzaine”, Paris 1931 (zeszyt nr 5, seria nr 21, 18 II 1931).
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  • J. Maritain, Trzej reformatorzy. Luter, Kartezjusz, Rousseau, tłum. K. Michalski, Warszawa–Ząbki 2005.
  • L. Augustyn, Wolność w jedności? Borys Wyszesławcew i rosyjska filozofia sobornosti, Krakow 2012.
  • L. Szestow, Na szalach Hioba. Duchowe wędrowki, tłum. J. Chmielewski, Warszawa 2003.
  • P. Wyszesławcew, Zakat Jewropy (Ob Oswaldie Szpienglierie), [w:] N. A. Bierdiajew, Padienije swiaszczennogo russkogo carstwa. Publicistika 1914–1922, Moskwa 2007.
  • R. Maritain, Dziennik, tłum. M. Żurowska, Warszawa 2012.

Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

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