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A Biography of a Classics Scholar: Stanisław Lisiecki (1872-1960)

The latest issue of “In Gremium” annual journal (15/2021) includes a paper by Tomasz Mróz who took an attempt to compose a biographical sketch of Stanisław Lisiecki (1872-1960). The course of his life can be reconstructed from scraps of information in letters, official documents and only few printed materials.

This is the most extensive biography of Lisiecki so far and it was based on handwritten documents from the Archive of Polish Academy of Sciences, the Manuscript Section of the Jagiellonian Library, and from private collections. A turning point in his life was his decision to abandon his church career and start living as a layperson. In the interwar Poland his choice was not met with acceptance of the members of the then academia.

Although he cannot be counted among the top Polish historians of ancient philosophy or classics scholars, he was unjustly disregarded as a historical figure with a considerable, though unpublished legacy, coinsisting of translations of and commentaries to a number of Plato’s and Aristotle’s works.

The paper (in Polish) can be downloaded from the journal’s website here.

On W. Tatarkiewicz’s (Mis)fortunes

The Days of Foreign Languages took place again at the University of Zielona Góra, and it was their VIIth edition. Their general topic this year, that is, lack, absence, deficiency, violence, exclusion etc., did not come as a surprise in current circumstances.

Two members of AΦR group took part in this event. Mariam Sargsyan delivered a paper in Russian on various metaphors with which the notion of “consciousness” is described, but it was Adrian Habura whose presentation was devoted to the reception of ancient philosophy.

His paper discussed the problem of happiness and well-being in Władysław Tatarkiewicz’s (1886-1880) life and his autobiographical notes, esp. the chapter titled Beneficial misfortunes (Korzystne niepowodzenia). Habura confronted it with Tatarkiewicz’s treatise Analysis of Happiness and some other of his ethical writings. He attempted to demonstrate that Tatarkiewicz, almost like a Homeric hero, many times in his life turned his misfortunes into success, and how Aristotle’s philosophy and Tatarkiewicz’s own research on Aristotle – from his Ph.D. thesis in Marburg to mature works in Warsaw – helped him to develop his attitude to the problems of life in general, and how his theory of happiness was rooted in Greek philosophy, above all in Aristotle.

A. Habura (photo by Gianluca Olcese)

AΦR at Classical Studies Workshop in Greece

Two members of AΦR Group, together with an AΦR friend, took part in Classical Studies Workshop in Greece. This tour event took place in the first ten days of October and was organised by The Sant-Tech Foundation in co-operation with Catholic University of Lublin (KUL).

It was an unforgettable tour of Greece from Athens to Thessaloniki, including Delphi, Marathon, Meteora, Pella, Stageira and many more places of archeological interest, many of which being extremely important for philosophers and historians of philosophy, e.g. Plato’s Academy, Aristotle’s Lycaeum, ancient Stageira or Nymphaeum in Mieza. The whole stay and the journey were carefully planned by Katarzyna Kołakowska and Lesław Lesyk (both of KUL and Sant-Tech Foundation), who smoothly adapted the workshop’s schedule to unexpected conditions.

The chronological order of the papers delivered by participants from Zielona Góra is: 1) Was the First Computer Designed by the Greeks? (M. Kurzawa, at the footsteps of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens; third from the left in the photo below). The speaker focused on the history of research on the Antikythera mechanism, which is preserved in this Museum, and its unbelievable construction. 2) Aristotle in the Lycaeum (T. Mróz, in the archeological site of… Aristotle’s Lycaeum; first on the right) discussed briefly the excavations in this location and presented the outlines of the history of the Philosopher’s school.

The photograph, depicting (almost) the whole group of participants was taken by L. Łesyk at the Archeological Museum in Thessaloniki.

Due to unfavourable weather conditions the following presentations were delivered en route to Thessaloniki, that is, on the bus: 3) Aristotle on the Beach (M. Kurzawa) was a paper devoted to Aristotle’s works in natural science and focused on his anecdotal scientific curiosity which gave rise to his theories in natural sciences, which still amaze us to this day. 4) Aristotle as the Greatest Teacher of Happiness (A. Habura; second from the left in the photo). The speaker presented the most essential Aristotle’s instructions on achieving happiness from the Nicomachean Ethics and highlighted their universal character, which was additionally substantiated by the studies of W. Tatarkiewicz, a recognised Polish historian of philosophy and ethician, on the same subject. 5) Polish Historians of Philosophy and Classics Scholars on Their Journeys to Greece (T. Mróz). This was rather a loose speech than academic paper and it presented three Polish scholars (W. Dzieduszycki, T. Sinko, W. Witwicki) and their memories of visiting historical places, some of which at the times of their journeys looked differently then they do today, and their observations on modern Greeks, which in turn appear sometimes to tally with today’s impressions of Greece.

Unknown (hitherto) Studies on Plato and Aristotle Finally Published

A new book series was initiated by Marek Derewiecki Publishing House. The series is devoted to publishing editions of source materials and studies related to the history of reception of ancient philosophy. Polish name of the series is “Studia i Teksty z Dziejów Recepcji Filozofii Starożytnej”.

Volume one of the series includes source materials retrieved from manuscripts of Stanisław Lisiecki (1872-1960). In addition, three of his Latin papers published in the interwar period were translated into Polish. Three sections constitute the whole volume. They are: Platonica, Aristotelica and Auto-Biographica, and hence the title of the collection: S. Lisiecki: On Plato, Aristotle and on Himself (O Platonie, Arystotelesie i o sobie samym). Platonica include twelve Lisiecki’s studies on individual dialogues and three papers devoted to specific issues in Plato. Aristotelica is much smaller and contains only four works, while the autobiographical section includes two Lisiecki’s autobiographical sketches (1910 and 1957) and four letters to university professors and family.

The materials collected in this volume shed light on the author’s biography and his relations to the most eminent scholars of his times. Moreover, he can finally speak in his own words to the wider public. Only now we can examine his ideas and arguments and compare them to the works of other Polish experts in ancient philosophy of the interwar period. Even if his texts can be sometimes assessed as secondary or not meeting academic standards, they provide us with an opportunity to supplement our view on the history of Polish research on Greek philosophy with works by original author.

The whole volume is a collective production. The source material was obviously written by the author, Lisiecki. His manuscripts were examined and re-typed by Adrian Habura and T. Mróz. Latin texts were translated by Adriana Bolibok (University of Life Sciences in Lublin) and T. Mróz, and their translations were looked through and refined by Barbara Brzuska (University of Warsaw). Whole collection was edited and prefaced by T. Mróz. The volume is one of the results of the research project funded by the Polish National Science Centre.

The book is available at the publisher’s bookstore here.

A View of Plato’s Paths in Poland

A lengthy, 480 pages, monograph book by T. Mróz was published in Academia Verlag’s series “Academia Philosophical Studies” as vol. 75. The title of the book is Plato in Poland 1800-1950. Types of Reception – Authors – Problems.

Some material from the book, including table of contents, is available on publisher’s website. The book attempts to make Polish Plato reception available to non-Polish readers. The years 1800-1950 cover essential phaenomena in modern Polish philosophy, for they encompass periods of reception of Western philosophical trends and the development of the Lvov-Warsaw school, neo-Messianism and neo-Scholasticism. The book discusses how each of these phaenomena contributed to interpreting Plato. The material is divided into three main parts focused on various types of reception.

The book is a final outcome of a project sponsored by Polish government within the National Programme for the Development of Humanities funding scheme. An essential collaborator in this project was Una Maclean-Hańćkowiak, who patiently edited the author’s style.

Platonic Concept of Reincarnation in Polish Philosophy

The latest issue of “Studia z Historii Filozofii” (Studies in the History of Philosophy, vol. 12, iss. 1) includes a paper by Adrian Habura on an episode in Polish reception of Plato’s theory of reincarnation or transmigration of souls.

Habura aims to present Stanisław Lisieckiʼs interpretation and assessment of Plato’s concept of metempsychosis, and then position his work against the background of diverse results of W. Lutosławski and P. Siwek. Lisieckiʼs reflection on Plato, and especially on his theory of reincarnation, proves that he was an unfairly forgotten scholar, who had had knowledge, capabilities and diligence sufficient to grant him a well-deserved place in Polish historiography and reception of Greek philosophy. Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, including Lisiecki’s abandonment of Catholic clergy and his uncertainty of the value of his own work, he worked on margins of Polish academic life in the interwar period. Yet, as far as it was possible, he attempted to reconcile Platonism and Christian thought and find consolation in a perspective of future incarnations.

Full paper, in Polish, can be downloaded from the journal’s website here.