Leszek Kolakowski, RIP

Leszek Kolakowski
Leszek Kolakowski

 

The philosopher Leszek Kolakowski is dead. His dates are 1927-2009, meaning he lived through the most violent and tumultous period of Polish history: the Nazi conquest, the post-war liberation followed by Stalinism, the rise of the New Left and its crushing defeat in the 1960s (which sent him into exile), the triumph of Solidarity and the overthrow of communism.

I was not, on the whole, a fan. Of course his opposition to Stalinism was heroic and wholy admirable. But his approach to the history of ideas seemed to me too schematic and ahistorical. But I did like some of the wry, puckish essays in Modernity On Endless Trial, in particular “How to be a Conservative-Liberal-Socialist”.

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