D&U 2-2020




This Dialogue and Universalism issue is dedicated to Janusz Kuczyński (1930–2017), philosopher, energetic organiser of international-scale intellectual events, International Society for Universal Dialogue co-founder, the founder and long-time editor-in-chief of Dialogue and Universalism. Kuczyński was a truly a man of dialogue, both as a person and a philosopher—a thinker whose calling was to build a better world by peaceful intellectual means. Shortly after Professor Kuczyński’s death, his closest associates published their reminiscences of him in Dialogue and Universalism 2 (27), 2017. In this issue we focus on his philosophical conceptions and his equally important rich activity. The authors in this issue analyse and interpret Kuczyński’s philosophy, search for its core and essence, examine the various contexts in which his thought is founded and seek its common points with other conceptions (among others by Karl Marx, Immanuel Kant, Edmund Husserl, Friedrich Nietzsche and Jűrgen Habermas). First and foremost, they concentrate on Kuczyński’s main conception—universalism. The authors also write about his intensive activity on other planes—because besides being a creative-minded philosopher who in his thinking often over-stepped academic canons, Kuczyński was also a tireless initiator and organiser of countless conferences, seminars, meetings and other events and an enthusiastic founder or co-founder of social movements and academic societies who infected others with his energy. He was also editor-in-chief of two academic journals and on the editing board of a third, a promotor of valuable publishing projects, and he headed numerous innovative research projects. Janusz Kuczyński developed his main conception—universalism—over years. It was his guiding light throughout his academic career, the driving force of his broad and thematically very diversified research work. The universalism model he built is an original theoretical and metatheoretical proposal which differs from other forms of universalism created in and also outside of philosophy. This specific kind of universalism, which became Kuczyński’s opus magnum, is not a closed theory—in fact, one can say it is a naturally open one. It is a conception forever in statu nascendi, which has never and will never achieve a final form. The universalism project—or idea—can never be completed, because it changes with human progress. As humanity passes from one phase in its history to the next, the content of the universalism conception also changes to accommodate the new experiences and knowledge it gathers in the process. The universalism idea is also too broad and diversified for one person to handle, which is, I believe, why Kuczyński constantly formed study groups which then worked with him on the project, thus employing his organisational talent to promote universalistic ideas and further research on them. Kuczyński called his universalism Metaphilosophy as the Wisdom of Science, Art, and Life. He based it on the idea of synergy, which he believed was emerging from dialogue between different philosophical trends and schools, as well as between philosophy and the empirical sciences, religion, art, historical experience, and life itself. Alongside its other functions, Kuczyński saw dialogue as a necessary method of explaining and unifying human life and human experiences on the cognitive (including scientific), emotional, religious and artistic planes. He gave human experience a historical dimension, and, like Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, saw history itself as the foundation of all sense. I have included religion among the components of Kuczyński’s universalism concept, because he paid considerable attention to it throughout his active years, including his humanistic Marxism period. He argued that dialogue between the secular and religious worlds was unavoidable and saw it, together with dialogue between religions, as a necessary condition of peaceful human coexistence. Needless to say, his conclusions and predictions are proving accurate today, as despite the secularisation of many of the world’s regions, peoples and cultures, the 21st century has seen the return—and in radical form—of conflict between religious and secular organisations and social groups and, no less dangerous and ominous, between religions themselves. Kuczyński’s universalism bases on the ontological vision of the structure of the human world. He saw the essence of this world in the whole of its parts—in the entirety of individual and collective human experience and human existence, in human battles with the world and its formation by the human being (whom, after all, he called homo creator). He considered this wholeness to be the main factor in the formation of social consciousness, also in the historical aspect, because he shared Hegel’s conviction that only wholeness can be true. The main aim of this universalism was—again in Hegel’s spirit—to unify all human experience and achievements into a system, a whole that is diversified within, and which would be the final goal of universalism, i.e., a total wisdom. Of course, philosophy alone is not enough to cope with thus-conceived universalism, especially not the philosophy of the last decades with its increasing isolationism, external and internal constraints and professionalisation tendencies that belie the very essence of philosophy. Neither does this universalism follow the recently popular tendency to naturalise philosophy—in fact, the anti-naturalistic character of Kuczyński’s universalism can be seen as one of its assets, because naturalisation in the currently proposed versions is destructive to philosophy in that it questions and ultimately deconstructs its autonomy. Kuczyński’s universalism, or “the wisdom of science, art, and life” is a radically maximalistic metaphilosophy which embraces all human issues and all modes of the human world, and unifies them into a whole. I must admit to some insecurity at this point, because Kuczyński never said how this unification was to proceed, and also used the term “metaphilosophy” in a different sense than its common understanding. He spoke about wisdom arising from the synergy inherent in uniting the spheres of the human world, but not about their synthesis, or, much less, summation. It would appear, however, that the task is to gather the fragments of wisdom contained in the world’s different spheres, combine them into a synergical whole and thus achieve absolute wisdom. Here, philosophy plays a dual role, i.e., as the whole’s organiser/overseer, and simultaneously as one of its elements. Thus, the essential aim of the universalism project is to attain wisdom through uniting human experiences and human lives. Can this attainment be compared to phenomenological reduction, that is, to a path leading from a multifarious human world to its essence? This would be a risky assumption; one can rather say that the wisdom Kuczyński spoke about is a synergically formed composition of different kinds of experiences and human life itself, and any claims about its similarity to reduction to essence along the lines of Edmund Husserl’s eidetic reduction are unwarranted. The wisdom represented by universalistic metaphilosophy should rather be perceived as a synergic whole, and simultaneously as the irreducible diversity of the human world. The structure of this whole, however, remains hidden to us. Researchers of Kuczyński’s philosophy, including some who are not present in this issue of Dialogue and Universalism, have pointed to its very diversified sources and inspirations. It is not possible to determine the exact origins of Kuczyński’s thought, because he did not limit himself to one philosophical school, rather seeing new, synergic “added value” in dialogue between them all. I believe (although not without some reservations) that he took the main goal of universalism, hence also the ways in which he investigated worlds that led to wisdom, from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. This is visible in the dialectic character of his thinking and his open support of dialectics, also quite often in the Marxian version. Hegelian influences are also discernible in Kuczyński’s firm belief that only the whole system has a value, and that only through it can truth, the sense of the world and their historical contexts be unveiled. Kuczyński’s philosophy also suggests his desire for an all-embracing metatheoretical system—an idea that has been discredited by post-Hegelian minimalism common in philosophy till today. It is mainly for these reasons that one can assume Kuczyński’s universalism to have been inspired by Hegel’s dialectics and maximalistic ideas— although he himself frequently claimed to be a Nietzscheanist. Thus, Kuczyński created a maximalistic project which can hardly be described as purely philosophical, because it extends beyond philosophy, searching for wisdom in the entirety of human experience—wisdom that could be a driving force behind the creation of the present and future world, instead of only a descriptive function. Despite the immense work put into it, large areas of the universalism project still exist only as a collection of ideas, and only a few of its goals have actually been realised. The problem is that it can reveal the sense of the human world only as a whole. Kuczyński’s vision of organising humanity’s entire knowledge and experience into comprehensive wisdom which he called metaphilosophy was reinforced by another of his beliefs—in active, participative philosophy that is involved in the world’s affairs (very much along Marxian lines). Kuczyński was firmly convinced that philosophy’s indelible duty was to wrestle with the world, in which it was both an observer and creative participant. It would be impossible to overstate Kuczyński’s role in the creation, operation and specific profiling of Dialogue and Universalism: He founded the journal, and served as its editor-in-chief and unquestioned spiritus movens over 42 years. Dialogue and Universalism is the journal’s third name, in earlier years it was titled Dialectics and Humanism (1973–1989) and Dialogue and Humanism. The Universalist Quarterly (1990–1994). Through Kuczyński’s efforts, Dialogue and Universalism found itself among the very few philosophical titles registered in Poland which survived the political changes in 1989. It was then— what most of the world is unaware of and those who are would rather forget about—that many valuable achievements from the real socialism years (called the communist era in the West and by hostile circles) were destroyed in the name of removing alien and hostile cultural heritage. Only two contributions to this issue do not address Kuczyński’s work directly. Nonetheless, written by his close associates Professor Zofia Rosińska and Professor Włodzimierz Lorenz, they are related to it in that both authors share Kuczyński’s ideas and fascinations. Also in this issue are several important publications by Kuczyński himself, which outline the main ideas, basic elements and beginnings of the universalism project. They come from the 1980s and were published in 1989 as part of the Philosophy of Peace Research Project implemented at the University of Warsaw. However, the texts were never published by any official publishing house and are practically unavailable; a small paper edition was exhausted years ago and its electronic form was not established. This is why, in view of the special character of the present Dialogue and Universalism issue, we decided to suspend our rule of publishing only original contributions. The texts have been reedited. I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to Professors Józef Leszek Krakowiak and Michael Mitias for their valuable contributions during the preparation of this issue. Małgorzata Czarnocka Dialogue and Universalism editor-in-chief