sábado, 17 de dezembro de 2016

Leszek Kolakowski

"Jacques Barzun once said of Walter Bagehot that he was “‘well-known’ without being known well.” Something similar can be said of Kolakowski. No academic is more distinguished than Leszek Kolakowski. He boasts a string of glittering honors and prizes that includes—I confine myself to a few A-list American awards—a MacArthur Fellowship (the so-called “genius” award, justified for once), the Jefferson Award, and, in 2003, the first Kluge Prize for “lifetime achievement in the h...umanities,” a commendation that carries a purse of $1 million.
"Kolakowski’s bibliography is equally long and distinguished. It includes plays, moral and theological tales, and a long shelf of books and articles on the Church Fathers, on Pascal, on Henri Bergson, on English empiricism and the tradition of positivism, on the fate of religion in a secular age and the prospects of secularism in the hands of an animal as obstinately given to religious preoccupationas homo sapiens sapiens. Above all, perhaps, Kolakowski is known as a keen anatomist of totalitarianism. His patient investigations into the origins and the murderous legacy of Marxism—culminating in his magnum opus, Main Currents of Marxism (English translation, 1978)—occupy pride of place in the precious library of philosophical and political disenchantment.
"It would be an injustice, however, if this impressive inventory were to obscure one of Kolakowski’s most conspicuous gifts: I mean his humor. Consider, for example,this title: “A Comment on Heidegger’s Comment on Nietzsche’s Alleged Comment on Hegel’s Comment on the Power of Negativity.” This orotund pseudo-scholarly rubric neatly ushers Kolakowski into a serious point. In a famous interview with Der Spiegel published in 1976 shortly after his death, Heidegger was at pains to exonerate himself from his association with the Nazis. Among other things, he suggested that anyone who had ears to hear would know that he had criticized the Nazi regime in his lectures on Nietzsche and the Will to Power.“It probably takes an ear subtler than mine,” Kolakowski notes, “to hear this criticism.” Indeed, he shows that Heidegger “obliquely but clearly” expressed his commitment to German imperialism in those lectures."
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On the life and work of the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, who is “well-known without being known well.”

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