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Władysław Tatarkiewicz (right) and "Armand Vetulani, 1960 or later - picture published by courtesy Barbara Vetulani
Detail, plaque at Tatarkiewicz's last apartment, on ulica Chocimska [Khotyn Street] 35, "Warsaw. He lived there 1960–80.

Władysław Tatarkiewicz (Polish: "[vwaˈdɨswaf tatarˈkʲevitʂ]; 3 April 1886, "Warsaw – 4 April 1980, Warsaw) was a "Polish "philosopher, historian of "philosophy, historian of "art, "esthetician, and "ethicist.[1]



Tatarkiewicz began his higher education at "Warsaw University. When it was closed by the "Russian Imperial authorities in 1905, he was forced to continue his education abroad in "Marburg, where he studied from 1907 to 1910.[2]

As he describes in his Memoirs, it was a chance encounter with a male relative, whose height made him stand out above the crowd at a "Kraków railroad station, upon the outbreak of "World War I that led Tatarkiewicz to spend the war years in "Warsaw.[3] There he began his career as a lecturer in philosophy, teaching at a girls' school on Mokotowska Street, across the street from where "Józef Piłsudski was to reside during his first days after World War I.

During "World War I, when the Polish University of Warsaw was opened under the sponsorship of the occupying Germans – who wanted to win Polish support for their war effort – Tatarkiewicz directed its philosophy department in 1915–19.

In 1919–21 he was professor at "Stefan Batory University in "Wilno, in 1921–23 at the "University of Poznań, and in 1923–61 again at the "University of Warsaw. In 1930 he became a member of the "Polish Academy of Sciences.[4]

During "World War II, risking his life, he conducted "underground lectures in German-occupied Warsaw[5] (one of the auditors was "Czesław Miłosz).[6] After the suppression of the "Warsaw Uprising (August–October 1944) he again consciously risked his life when retrieving a manuscript from the gutter, where a German soldier had hurled it (this and other materials were later published as a book, in English translation titled Analysis of Happiness).[7]

Władysław Tatarkiewicz died the day after his 94th birthday. In his Memoirs, published shortly before, he recalled having been ousted from his University chair by Henryk Holland, a (politically connected) former student.[8] Characteristically, he saw even that indignity as a blessing in disguise, as it gave him freedom from academic duties and the leisure to pursue research and writing.[9]

And in sum it is a good existence: that of a retired old professor. He still has something to do, but is under no compulsion. He only voluntarily imposes compulsions on himself. He has time: at any time of day, he can go for a walk in the park—as long as his legs will still carry him. Equally, or even more, important is this: he no longer has ambition, he has ceased to be a rival to others. He is no inconvenience to others, they have no need to fear him, they have no reason to envy him: in this situation—without opponents, rivals and enemies—life is considerably more tolerable.[10]

Tatarkiewicz later reflected that at all crucial junctures of his life, he had failed to foresee events, many of them tragic, but that this had probably been for the better, since he could not have altered them anyway.[11]

Major works[edit]

Tatarkiewicz belonged to the "interbellum "Lwów–Warsaw school of logic, created by "Kazimierz Twardowski, which gave reborn Poland many scholars and scientists: philosophers, logicians, "psychologists, "sociologists, and organizers of "academia.[12]

Tatarkiewicz educated generations of Polish philosophers, estheticians and art historians, as well as a multitude of interested laymen.[13] He posthumously continues to do so through his History of Philosophy and numerous other works.

In his final years, Tatarkiewicz devoted considerable attention to securing translations of his major works. Of the below incomplete listing of his works, his 1909 German-language doctoral thesis, and his History of Philosophy, Łazienki warszawskie, Parerga, and Memoirs have not been translated into "English.

  • "Two concepts of beauty"
  • "Two concepts of "poetry"
  • "Creation and discovery"
  • "The concept of value"
  • "Civilization and culture"
  • "Art and technology"
  • "Integration of the arts"
  • "Photographs and pictures"
  • "Tragedy and the tragic"
  • "The great and the close"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Władysław Tatarkiewicz," "Encyklopedia Polski, p. 686.
  2. ^ Marek Jaworski, Władysław Tatarkiewicz, pp. 26–36.
  3. ^ Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Wspomnienia (Memoirs), p. 144.
  4. ^ "Władysław Tatarkiewicz," Encyklopedia powszechna PWN, vol. 4, p. 412.
  5. ^ Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Wspomnienia (Memoirs), p. 165–68.
  6. ^ Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Wspomnienia (Memoirs), p. 171.
  7. ^ * Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Analysis of Happiness, p. xi.
  8. ^ See (in Polish): List grupy uczestników seminarium filozoficznego profesora Władysława Tatarkiewicza, „Przegląd Filozoficzny” nr 2/1995 (14), s. 88.
  9. ^ Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Wspomnienia (Memoirs), p. 119.
  10. ^ Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Wspomnienia (Memoirs), pp. 172–73.
  11. ^ Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Wspomnienia (Memoirs), p. 181.
  12. ^ Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Zarys dziejów filozofii w Polsce (A Brief History of Philosophy in Poland), pp. 31–32.
  13. ^ "Władysław Tatarkiewicz," Encyklopedia powszechna PWN, vol. 4, p. 412.


External links[edit]

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