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Brief History of Institute of Philosophy

The origins of philosophy taught in Warsaw at a university level date back to the days of Collegium Nobilium, with Antoni Wiśniewski as lecturer (1746-63), and subsequently to Knights’ School, where lectures on logic and ethics were given by Marcin Nikuta (1766-88). At the Royal University of Warsaw, philosophy was taught by Adam Zabellewicz (1816-23), who previously lectured at the Warsaw Medical and Surgical Academy. Henryk Struve became the main figure in Warsaw philosophy during the second half of the nineteenth century – first, as lecturer at the Warsaw Main School (where Stefan Pawlicki taught history of philosophy), and subsequently as professor at the Russian Imperial University of Warsaw. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Polish-language philosophy lectures were given by Adam Mahrburg at the Flying University. His work was continued by Władysław M. Kozłowski in the Society of Scientific Courses.

During the interwar period, chairs of philosophy at Warsaw University were held by: Jan Łukasiewicz (1915-18, 1920-23 and from 1925), Władysław Tatarkiewicz (1915-19 and from 1923), Tadeusz Kotarbiński (from 1918) and Stanisław Leśniewski (after 1918) as well as, temporarily, Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz (1925-28) and Stanisław Schayer (1926-29). Initially, the chairs in question were established at the Faculty of Historical-Philosophical Studies (1915-16), soon transformed into the Faculty of Philosophical Studies (1916-27), and then at the faculties which developed from it, i.e. the Faculty of the Humanities (chairs held by Tatarkiewicz, Kotarbiński and Schayer) and the Faculty of Mathematical Studies and Physics (chairs held by Łukasiewicz, Leśniewski and Ajdukiewicz). During this period, venia legendi were granted to, i. a. Alfred Tarski (1925), Henryk Elzenberg (1928) and Maria and Stanisław Ossowski (1932 and 1933). Worldwide renown was enjoyed by the Warsaw school of logic, which at the time evolved around Łukasiewicz and Leśniewski as part of the Lvov-Warsaw School philosophical movement.

During the German occupation secret courses at the Clandestine University of Warsaw were conducted by, i.a. Łukasiewcz, Tatarkiewicz, Kotarbiński and the Ossowskis.

In the post-war period, both faculties resumed their activity without Leśniewski (who died in 1939) and Łukasiewicz (who emigrated to Ireland); Tatarkiewicz (1950) and Ossowska (1952) were prohibited from pursuing didactic activity. A separate Faculty of Philosophical Studies (1954-65) emerged from the Faculty of Arts; it was subsequently transformed into the Faculty of Philosophical-Sociological Studies (1965-68). In 1951 the Chair of Logic was presented to Tadeusz Kotarbiński and in 1961 it was held by Janina Kotarbińska. Maria Ossowska returned to teaching in 1956, holding the Chair of History and the Theory of Morality, and in 1958 Władysław Tatarkiewicz was appointed to the Chair of Aesthetics. Following the events of March 1968, philosophy at Warsaw University was subjected to a thorough reorganization.

The Faculty of Philosophical-Sociological Studies was first renamed the Faculty of Social Sciences (1968-81) and then it became the Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology. A separate Institute of Philosophy was established in 1968 within the new faculty structure, and chairs were replaced by departments.

During the post-war period, professors of philosophy at Warsaw University, apart from those mentioned above, included: Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz, Zdzisław Augustynek, Bronisław Baczko, Marek Fritzhand, Henryk Jankowski, Andrzej Kasia, Leszek Kołakowski, Władysław Krajewski, Tadeusz Kroński, Jan Legowicz, Stefan Morawski, Elżbieta Pietruska-Madej, Marian Przełęcki, Adam Schaff, Adam Sikora, Roman Suszko, Klemens Szaniawski and Bogusław Wolniewicz.

A special role is played by the Institute’s Faculty Library (combined with libraries of the Polish Philosophical Society and the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences), organized by Janusz Krajewski (1952-73), then supervised by Jan Siek (since 1978) and at present – since 2007 – by Aleksandra Łabuńska.