|Main Works and Selected Bibliography|
|Documentation on Czezowski|
|Extended Bibliography of Czezowski's Works|
Czezowski is certainly the least known
of the representatives of the Lvov-Warsaw
School, even though he was one of its main exponents and very close
to its founder, Kazimierz Twardowski .
He was, however, undoubtedly one of the most significant figures in the
analytical, scientific trend of Polish philosophy. His scientific activity
covered various disciplines: most of his works were devoted to problems
of logic, the theory of knowledge and the theory of science, but he was
also interested in the history of philosophy and ethics. The most significant
aspect of his thought is his positive evaluation of philosophy and metaphysics:
in this he pursued the indications given by Twardowski and Lukasiewicz
but modified and renewed them by the application of logic. Czezowski distinguished
between three possible types of metaphysics which respected the fundamental
criteria of the scientific nature of philosophy: inductive (generalising),
intuitional and axiomatic. The first type aims
at generalising the results of natural sciences in such a way as to formulate
theories that concern the whole of reality. Intuitional
metaphysics (whose main representatives were W. James, Bergson and Husserl)
aims at acquiring knowledge of reality by intuitive methods, unlike the
individual sciences which use conceptual mediation. Axiomatic
metaphysics draws inspiration from research in the field of logic and
mathematics and devotes itself to the analysis of the basic concepts of
all sciences by means of ontological interpretation of formalised logical
systems. It is called axiomatic as, like mathematics and logic, it is based
on axioms, thus pursuing in a modern fashion the ideal of deductive metaphysics.
As far as the concept of science is concerned, he maintained that it was a system comprising true judgements connected with each other by implication and logical equivalence. Unlike Kotarbinski, he took up the teaching of Twardowski who saw the object of presentation as a connected whole, only distinguishable into its component elements a posteriori. Czezowski therefore tended towards a "holistic" position, according to which nothing is irrefutable, thus countering the empiricists' assumption of the existence of empirical data or undoubted elementary facts. He maintained that scientific terms and statements could not be reduced to an empirical base but were contextually defined in a theoretical framework.
Czezowski's continuation of the thought of Twardowski and Lukasiewicz is clear in his "method of analytical description", which is both the method he used in all his discussions and philosophical-scientific analyses and that of modern science from Galileo onwards. Analytical description, unlike experimental description which accumulates data to obtain statistical generalisations, leads to general apodictic statements obtained by reference to additional assumptions and the elimination of the complication existing in the phenomenon being described. Analytical description leads not so much to the formation of orders and species but to the construction of types. Obviously it does not make use of inductive generalisation: the act of generalising it contains is a peculiar cognitive act based on analysis of the properties possessed by the object being described, choosing some of them and neglecting others, as is exemplified by Galileo's description of free fall. This way of proceeding consists of choosing those of the characteristics of the objects being investigated that are considered to be "definitional", i.e. that provide, as we have seen, an analytical definition of the objects. Unlike ordinary description, the latter "loses any direct link with the world of individuals, which is the object of the description, and creates species (or sets) as abstract objects". Analytical descriptions thus refer to reality only through the creation of a model (or type) of reality and scientific theory does not describe the phenomenon itself but this model of it.
In his research into metaethics Czezowski supported the construction of what he called "deontic systems", conceived of as deductive systems whose axioms are "ethical principles" (which are therefore different from moral, empirically verifiable laws) thanks to which it is possible to define the concept of "moral duty" (which is different from the concept of good). To do so, it is necessary to use the analytical method he indicated as the fundamental tool for empirical research. In this way he conceived of ethics as a regular scientific system of an idealisational nature.
Born in Vienna on 26th July 1889 into a
middle class family (his father was a Prefect and later appointed Counsellor
of the Governorate of Galicia and transferred in 1899 to Lvov ;
his mother, Helena Kusché, belonged to the petite bourgeoisie
of Lvov), he received his education in Lvov, where he had been transferred
with his family, whose love of music and poetry he inherited. His became
interested in philosophy at an early age, especially in ethical themes:
at the age of sixteen he wrote his first philosophical essay, which he sent
to the journal Przeglad Filozoficzny, but which was not published.
During his youth his passion for the mountains also took him on long excursions.
In 1907 he enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Lvov , where he studied philosophy with Kazimierz Twardowski , the founder of the Lvov-Warsaw School, mathematics with Waclaw Sierpinski and physics with Marian Smoluchowski. He soon became a close friend and collaborator of Twardowski, but he did not immediately undertake a university career: in 1912 he qualified as a teacher of mathematics and physics and taught in a Lvov grammar school from 1912 to 1914. He then signed up as a volunteer during the First World War and at the end of the War was appointed by the Rector of the University of Lvov, Twardowski, as responsible for the academic residence for university refugees. After resuming his university studies he returned to Lvov where he occupied the post of director of the University Chancellor's Office for three years (1915-1918), still under the guidance of the Rector Twardowski. With Twardowski's help, in 1918 Czezowski was offered a post at the new Polish Republic's Ministry for Religious Confessions and Public Education, where he worked until 1923, first as a clerk and then as Director of the Department of Science and Secondary Education. He rendered his country great service in this capacity, devoting himself in particular to the re-organisation of the reformed Universities of Warsaw and the Stefan Batory University of Vilnius and the new University of Poznan.
In the meanwhile Czezowski had continued his scientific activity, albeit at an increasingly slower pace: in 1914 he took his doctorate under the guidance of Twardowski with a dissertation on the Theory of Classes (Teoria klas) and in 1920 he took his habilitation with the work Variables and Functions (Zmiennie i funkcje), thanks to which he qualified as an Assistant Professor. When the Chair of Philosophy at the University of Vilnius became vacant in 1923, the minister offered it to Czezowski. From 1933 to 1935 he was Vice Rector and from 1935 to 1937 Dean of the Faculty of Humanities. He was awarded the title of Full Professor in 1936. In 1929 he married Antonina Packiewicz, who attended his lectures as an external student.
From this time onwards he commenced his academic career, characterised by an intense scientific and teaching activity and the appointment to positions of responsibility and prestige, promoting the development of philosophical interest in the city: he was the administrator of the Philosophical Circle of the students of the University and in 1927 he founded the Vilnius Philosophical Society. When the University was shut down during the second World War, although Czezowski was imprisoned twice, he continued to teach clandestinely, holding as many as 143 lectures, mostly on ethical subjects. At the end of the War, when the town of Vilnius was annexed to the Soviet Union, he was repatriated and, together with the other professors of the University, transferred to the new University of Torun, becoming one of its main organisers: he occupied the Chair of Philosophy and then of Logic as well as other positions of responsibility. This was perhaps the most intense and creatively fertile period of his career, even after his retirement in 1960. He died in Torun on February 28th, 1981.
The most important philosophical concepts of Czezowski, explained with quotations from his works. Follow the links!
Czezowski's Letters to Kazimierz Twardowski
Back to the Main Polish Philosophers Page