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Leszek Kołakowski

Geburtstag: 23. Oktober 1927
Todesdatum: 17. Juli 2009

Leszek Kołakowski war ein polnischer Philosoph, Philosophiehistoriker und Essayist. Er wird vielfach als der prominenteste polnische Philosoph des 20. Jahrhunderts angesehen.

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„Die Freiheit sollte nur dann verteidigt werden, wenn wir glauben, dass sie die Sache der Gemeinschaft ist, die gemeinschaftlich verteidigt werden muss, und deren Gefahren man gemeinschaftlich sich entgegenzustellen hat. Allerdings könnte man sich auch einen guttätigen Totalitarismus vorstellen, eine Art Huxleyschen Antiutopie. Das ist nicht außerhalb der Möglichkeiten unserer Zivilisation.“ Mini-Traktate über Maxi-Themen

„Es scheint, dass die Lebensart, in der jeder Einzelne nur daran interessiert ist, seine eigenen Wünsche zu erfüllen, und in der das Gefühl, den sozialen und kulturellen Verpflichtungen zu folgen, an Bedeutung verliert, jene Mentalität bildet, die Entwicklung totalitärer Ideologien begünstigt.“ Mini-Traktate über Maxi-Themen


„Die Menschen sollten nicht nur unbeschränkt Bedürfnisse ihrer Instinkte ausdrücken, sondern sollten sich verpflichtet fühlen, die Aufgaben der Gesellschaft, in der sie leben, zu erfüllen.“ Mini-Traktate über Maxi-Themen

„Erziehung des Menschen in der Zivilisation beruht nicht darauf, dass er alles spontan ausdrückt, was ihm gefällt, sondern dass er ein wirksamer, werter Teilnehmer dieser Zivilisation ist, wo die Menschen dazu bereit sind, einander zu helfen, wo sie das Gefühl der Zugehörigkeit zur Gemeinschaft haben, und wo sie den Zusammenhang mit der historischen Tradition ihrer Zivilisation sehen.“ Mini-Traktate über Maxi-Themen

„Was heißt »Selbstverwirklichung«? Der Mensch kann sich selbst vielfältig verwirklichen - einer hat das Potenzial, um heiliger Franz zu werden, anderer hat das Potenzial, Hitler zu werden. Sollen wir denn sagen, dass unsere Aufgabe darin besteht, jedem Menschen sein Potenzial verwirklichen zu lassen, unabhängig davon, welches Potenzial es ist?“ Mini-Traktate über Maxi-Themen

„A modern philosopher who has never once suspected himself of being a charlatan must be such a shallow mind that his work is probably not worth reading.“ Metaphysical Horror

„Religion is man's way of accepting life as an inevitable defeat. That it is not an inevitable defeat is a claim that cannot be defended in good faith. One can, of course, disperse one's life over the contingencies of every day, but even then it is only a ceaseless and desperate desire to live, and finally a regret that one has not lived. One can accept life, and accept it, at the same time, as a defeat only if one accepts that there is a sense beyond that which is inherent in human history -- if, in other words, one accepts the order of the sacred. A hypothetical world from which the sacred had been swept away would admit of only two possibilities: vain fantasy that recognizes itself as such, or immediate satisfaction which exhausts itself. It would leave only the choice proposed by Baudelaire, between lovers of prostitutes and lovers of clouds: those who know only the satisfactions of the moment and are therefore contemptible, and those who lose themselves in otiose imaginings, and are therefore contemptible. Everything is contemptible, and there is no more to be said. The conscience liberated from the sacred knows this, even if it conceals it from itself.“

„We learn history not in order to know how to behave or how to succeed, but to know who we are.“


„... we really have no right to reproach God for having created the world. For Him it was the only possible way of escaping from the accursed void in which He found himself.“

„Is it not reasonable to suspect that if existence were pointless and the universe devoid of meaning, we would never have achieved not only the ability to imagine otherwise, but even the ability to entertain this very thought—to wit, that existence is pointless and the universe devoid of meaning.“ Metaphysical Horror

„That being said, is there anything to say in support of utopian thinking? Everything, if the meaning of the word is somewhat restricted. If utopia means the highest set of values we want to defend and see implemented in social life, nothing prevents us from hanging on to all of them even if we know that they will never be perfectly compatible with each other. If utopia is a regulative idea of the optimum and not an assurance that we have mastered the skill to produce the optimum, then utopia is a necessary part of our thinking. But it would be a puerile fantasy to pretend that we know how to rid the world of scarcity, suffering, hatred, and injustice: nobody knows that. Whatever can be done in softening these conditions can be done only in specific points, on small scales, by inches. That this should be so unacceptable to the genuine utopian mentality which looks for the vision of the Last Day, the great leap, the final battle; everything else seems (and is, indeed) grey, boring, lacking pathos, requiring specific knowledge instead.“

„Curiosity, that is, the separate drive to explore the world disinterestedly, without being stimulated by danger or physiological dissatisfaction, is, according to students of evolution, rooted in specific morphological characteristics of our species and thus cannot be eliminated from our minds as long as our species retains its identity. As both Pandora’s most deplorable accident and the adventures of our progenitors in Paradise testify, curiosity has been a main cause of all the calamities and misfortunes that have befallen mankind, and it has unquestionably been the source of all its achievements.“ Modernity on Endless Trial


„I was then a young and omniscient student (alas, I was soon to lose both these virtues).“

„the freedom of individuals has – we may presume – an anthropological foundation. This is admittedly a doctrine which cannot be proved or disproved in the normal sense of the word ‘prove’. And yet our hope that freedom is not going to be ultimately destroyed by the joint pressure of totalitarianism and of general bureaucratisation of the world and indeed our very readiness to defend it depend crucially on our belief that the desire for freedom, for sovereign individual self-assertion in free choice, is not an accidental fancy of history, not a result of peculiar social conditions or a temporary by-product of specific economic life forms, of market mechanisms, but that it is rooted in the very quality of being human.“

„Christian humanists were engaged in a vast enterprise to make the spiritual and intellectual riches of ancient culture available to the Christian world; they did so with no sense of unease or internal conflict, for they believed that paganism – in other words, the ‘forces of nature’ themselves, not yet sanctified by the blessings of incarnation – could achieve splendid things in all areas of culture.“ Is God Happy?: Selected Essays

„I am not a Kant expert and no Kantian but, I should say, a Kant sympathizer—especially where conflicts between Kantian and so-called historicist thinking are concerned, both in epistemology and in ethics.“

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