In Memoriam Leszek Kolakowski

Posted on July 24th, 2009 by

Photo by Mariusz Kubik, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Kmarius

Photo by Mariusz Kubik, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Kmarius

The Polish-born philosopher Leszek Kolakowski died July 17 at the age of 81. Theoretically, his work moved from Soviet-style Marxism, to Marxist humanism, to a view that eventually rejected Marxism altogether, on the grounds that it was guilty of all the sins of capitalism, plus a few of its own.

His sizeable corpus includes everything from scholarly works on Spinoza, Bergson and Husserl, to a three-volume history of Marxism and a massive study of seventeenth-century non-denominational Christianity, to a satirical indictment of Stalin (What Socialism is Not). His delightful “General Theory of Not Gardening” gave me all the theoretical ammo I’ve ever needed to avoid planting anything more than the occasional tomato. A complete obituary for Professor Kolakowski is available in the Daily Telegraph.

 

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