Another conversion. Stanisław Brzozowski’s ‘diary’ as an early instance of the post-secular turn to religion
- Agata Bielik-Robson
- … show all 1 hide
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
This essay is an attempt to analyze an important decision Brzozowski took at the end of his life, i.e. his late turn towards Catholicism, which, despite his own objections, we should nonetheless call a religious conversion. The main reason why Brzozowski resisted the traditional rhetoric of conversion lies in his often repeated conviction that faith cannot invalidate life, because “what is not biographical, does not exist at all.” Brzozowski, therefore, rejects conversion understood as a radical and abrupt revolution of the soul, which annuls everything that happened before, and turns to a model of religiosity (“Catholicism, undoubtedly”) which preserves his entire biographical past. In this manner, Brzozowski seeks his own formula of faith, more adequate to the “situation” of the modern man who lives in and through History. I argue that the model of “conversion without conversion” Brzozowski chose as representative of modern man is typically, though avant la lettre, post-secular: closer to the Jewish sources of past-oriented tschuva than to the mystical timelessness of traditionally Christian metanoia. The idea that redemption consists not in a liberation of a pure spirit but in a patient working-through of the universal history of creation is an implicit credo of the whole modern age, first fully articulated by Brzozowski and only later in the writings of Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, and Walter Benjamin. Brzozowski emerges as a relatively early precursor of the future post-secular option whose advocates, like the author of The Diary, will not allow themselves to “lose a single moment,” either of their lives or the world’s history.
- Ahlstrom, S. (2004). A religious history of the American people. New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Badiou, A. (2003). Saint Paul, The foundation of Universalism (R. Brassier, Trans.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- Benjamin, W. (1998). The origin of German tragic drama (J. Osborne, Trans.). London: Verso.
- Bloch, E. (2000). The spirit of Utopia (A. Nassar, Trans.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- Brzozowski, S. (1912). Głosy wsród nocy. Studya nad przesileniem romantycznem kultury europejskiej. Lwów: Księgarnia Polska Bernarda Połonieckiego.
- Brzozowski, S. (1913). Pamiętnik. Lwów: Nakładem Antoniny Brzozowskiej, Księgarnia Polska. Reprint Drukarnia Narodowa w Krakowie (in my translation).
- Brzozowski, S. (1979). Aforyzmy. Warszawa: PIW.
- Cohen, H. (1995). Religion of reason. Out of the sources of judaism (S. Kaplan, Trans.). Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press.
- De Vries, H. (2005). Minimal theologies. Critiques of secular reason in Adorno and Levinas (G. Hale, Trans.). Baltimore: The Johns Hopnkins University Press.
- Habermas, J. (2005). Zwischen Naturalismus und Religion. Philosophische Aufsätze. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
- Hegel, G. W. F. (2008). Lectures on the philosophy of religion, vol. 3 (The consummate religion) (P. Hodgson, Trans.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Löwith, K. (1957). Meaning in history. The theological implications of the philosophy of history. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
- Lukács, G. (1912). Von der Armut am Geiste. Neue Blätter, Heft nr 5/6 1912.
- Lukács, G. (1974). “Metaphysics of tragedy,” in Soul and Form. (A. Bostock, Trans.). London: Merlin Press.
- Rymkiewicz, J. M. (1987). Żmut. Paris: Instytut Literacki.
- Scholem, G. (1995). The Messianic idea in Judaism. And other essays on Jewish spirituality. New York: Schocken Books.
- Taubes, J. (2009). Occidental eschatology (D. Ratmoko, Trans.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- Another conversion. Stanisław Brzozowski’s ‘diary’ as an early instance of the post-secular turn to religion
Studies in East European Thought
Volume 63, Issue 4 , pp 279-291
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Christian versus Jewish
- Catholic Church
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham and Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland