History of the Institute

Philosophy at the Jagiellonian University has a long tradition. Taught since the turn of the 14th century, it earned international recognition in the 16th century. The Early Modern Era witnessed the emergence of an intellectually stimulating milieu of philosophers and scientists, such as Sebastian Petrycy of Pilsen (1554–1626), professor of medicine, and Jan Brożek (1585–1652), also known as Ioannes Broscius, a prominent theologian, mathematician, and astronomer supporting the theory of Nicolaus Copernicus (himself an alumnus of the Jagiellonian University), historian of science, theoretician of music, and a professor of philosophy who authored Apologia pro Aristotele. Szymon Stanisław Makowski, a Thomist who wrote A Course of Philosophy According to the Genuine Doctrine of Aristotle, the Prince of Philosophers, also belonged to this group of scholars.
New currents in philosophy and teaching methods came as a result of the first reform of the university, introduced around the mid-18th century by the professor of mathematics and philosophy, Rev. Józef Alojzy Putanowicz. In the late 18th century, his student Marcin Świątkowski, who promoted the ideas of Christian Wolff, contributed, in an original way, to the development of the Enlightenment in that he published a work titled Prodromus Polonus (The Polish Herald). During the period of reforms introduced by Hugo Kołłątaj and the Commission of National Education, philosophy taught at the Jagiellonian University was limited to the ideas of Wolff, René Descartes, Gottfried W. Leibniz, and John Locke (in the lectures by Rev. Wincenty Smaczniński and Rev. Andrzej Cyankiewicz). Hugo Kołłątaj, influenced by the French philosophes, as well as Jan and Jędrzej Śniadecki brothers, two alumni and reformers of the Jagiellonian University, inspired by the Scottish School of Common Sense, propagated new ideas in ethics and the philosophy of science. This marked the onset of 19th-century positivism in Poland with its manifesto by Rev. Feliks Jaroński, titled What Kind of Philosophy Do the Poles Need? (1810). Also, the philosophy of Immanuel Kant significantly influenced Kraków-based scholars, such as Józef Emanuel Jankowski, who was its fervent adherent, and Feliks Jaroński and Jan Śniadecki, who equally passionately opposed it. Michał Wiszniewski, an advocate of the philosophy of common sense and the methodology of Francis Bacon, who wrote a tract on Bacon’s Method of Explaining Nature, played an important role at the university in the early 19th century. At that time also Hegel’s philosophy had a follower in the person of Józef Kremer (1806–1875).
The early 20th century brought further developments in many areas of philosophy. Maurycy Straszewski (1848–1921) advocated empiricism and scientific philosophy, but also worked in the area of the history of philosophy. Rev. Stefan Pawlicki, who was a teacher of Leon Chwistek – the latter being a philosopher, logician, mathematician, and a famous painter – developed the ideas of philosophy as the art of life. Wincenty Lutosławski (1863–1954), a short-term lecturer at the Jagiellonian University and the author of The Origin and Growth of Plato’s Logic (London 1905), spread the ideas of Polish messianism. Witold Rubczyński (1864–1938) contributed to ethics, aesthetics, and the history of philosophy. Joachim Metallmann (1889–1942), a Whitehead scholar, developed methodology and the philosophy of science. Rev. Konstanty Michalski (1879–1947) was a leading scholar of medieval philosophy, especially Polish scholasticism and nominalism. Władysław Heinrich (1869–1957), a student of Avenarius and a historian of philosophy, representing critical empiricism, contributed to the development of experimental psychology.
After World War II, despite the ideological control exercised by the communist party, independent philosophy was still cultivated. A number of scholars developed different fields of philosophical investigations at that time. Accordingly, Zygmunt Zawirski (1882–1948) studied the philosophy of science and logic, in particular multi-valued logics. Janina Kiersnowska-Suchorzewska (1886–1967), whose research interests covered the philosophy of science and the history of philosophy, focused her studies on Kant and the neo-Kantians. Władysław Tatarkiewicz (1886–1980) published important works in the history of philosophy and aesthetics, a reference point for Polish students of philosophy and humanities in general until these days. Roman Ingarden (1893–1970), a disciple of Edmund Husserl and nowadays a classic of Polish philosophy, developed phenomenological aesthetics and ontology; he is the author of A Controversy over the Existence of the World in which he criticizes Husserl’s idealism, and a translator of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason into Polish. Jan Leszczyński (1905–1990) made an important contribution to ontology, epistemology, and semiotics. Danuta Gierulanka’s (1909–1995) research covered phenomenology, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophical psychology. Izydora Dąmbska (1904–1983), an epistemologist and student of Kazimierz Twardowski, represented the Lvov-Warsaw School in Kraków – a school widely recognized for its developments in the theory of cognition and logic, especially by Alfred Tarski. Historian of philosophy Daniela Gromska (1889–1973) contributed through her translations of Aristotle and Theophrastus. In the mid-1960s. Ingarden retired and, as a result of the policies of the communist party, Dąmbska was compelled to leave the university and entered the Polish Academy of Sciences. In the field of logic and its history the work of Kazimierz Pasenkiewicz (1897–1995) and Stanisław Surma have also played a remarkable role.
The Institute of Philosophy, in its current shape, was established in 1967 by merging the Chairs of Philosophy, the History of Philosophy, Logic, and the Philosophy of Nature. All the major philosophical disciplines are represented at the Institute: ontology, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of culture, philosophy of science, history of philosophy, political philosophy, formal and philosophical logic, philosophy of language, cognitive science, history of logic, as well as Polish philosophy, Russian philosophy, and philosophy of the East. The Institute offers programmes and research opportunities within three different specializations: Philosophy, Cognitive Science, and Ethics.

[Prepared by Miłowit Kuniński on the basis of the following sources: Studies in the History of the Faculty of Philosophy and History at the Jagiellonian University (Studia z dziejów Wydziału Filozoficzno-Historycznego Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego), edited by S. Mikucki, Jagiellonian University, Kraków 1967, materials from The Golden Book of the Faculty of Philosophy (Złota Księga Wydziału Filozoficznego) and a description of the Institute of Philosophy published in the 2001 edition of a philosophy newsletter, Principia – Ekspres Filozoficzny.]