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The reception of Hegel in Józef Gołuchowski’s thought

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Although Gołuchowski was inspired mainly by Schelling, he was well acquainted with the views of other German idealist thinkers, including Hegel. Referring to Gołuchowski’s early works, as well as to his last book Dumania nad najwyższemi zagadnieniami człowieka (“Thoughts about the highest human issues”, published posthumously in 1861), I will discuss the main Hegelian motifs in his philosophy and their relationship to the Schellingian “basis” of his thought. I will also consider the main motifs of Gołuchowski’s critique of Hegel’s system which can be treated – at least to some extent – as belonging to the revision of the assumptions of Hegelian absolute idealism made by such Polish adherents of Hegel’s philosophy as Trentowski, Libelt or Cieszkowski.

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  1. The Society of Philomaths (Lovers of Learning), founded in 1817 and the Society of Philareths (Lovers of Virtue), founded in 1820 were secret student organizations at the Imperial Vilnius University. They included members such as Józef Jeżowski, Tomasz Zan, Onufry Pietraszkiewicz, Franciszek Malewski, and Adam Mickiewicz. In consequence of the investigation conducted in the years 1823–1824 by the Russian emperor’s plenipotentiary in Poland, Senator Nikolai N. Novosiltsov, they were considered dangerous for the tsarist government and dissolved (see Koropeckyj 2008, pp. 14–30 and 44–55). Although Gołuchowski did not belong neither to the Philomaths nor to the Philareths, he was suspected of being involved in their activities due to his lectures, which were very popular and gathered crowds. This case finally led to his dismissal in 1824. He was forced to leave Lithuania and never came back neither to the Imperial Vilnius University, nor to academia in general (see Zabieglik 2003).

  2. This treatise was translated into Polish by Piotr Chmielowski in 1903 as “Filozofia i życie” (“Philosophy and life”) (Gołuchowski 1903).

  3. As David A. Duquette clarifies, it was published “under the double title Naturrecht und Staatswissenschaften in Grundrisse; Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (Natural Law and the Science of the State; Elements of the Philosophy of Right)” (Duquette 2001).

  4. As Charles Taylor put it, the only “meaning which Hegel gives to immortality” consists in “living in the universal”. In other words, the only immortality is in fact accessible by the self-conscious “subject, destined for this conscious life in the universal” (Taylor 1975, p. 152).

  5. In her later writings from 1860, devoted to the Polish literature after 1830, there are similar remarks concerning the character of the Polish thought. When referring to Józef Gołuchowski, she emphasizes that he is not “an abstracted metaphysician from the Cartesius or Leibniz family”, but “a native mind, willing to change high terms of theory into practice, into clear and popular teaching; though with a range of views far larger (…) in him than in Śniadecki” (Ziemięcka 1860, p. 75). According to Ziemięcka, Gołuchowski’s early treatise from 1822 can serve as the best confirmation of the accuracy of these observations as “There is depth there, (…) there is real life, in brief, there is everything which will always characterize our eminent writers – the will to apply theory to practice, common Polish sense” (Ziemięcka 1860, p. 75).

  6. It is worth emphasizing that although this is Marx who accused Hegel that in his system “all “ends in” and “rests on” thought” (Ameriks 2006, p. 265), also Schelling formulated similar ideas in his late, positive philosophy. For instance he took a position of so-called philosophical empiricism which begins with “the scholastic distinction between “what something is” (was) and “that it is” (daß)” and finally leads to the conclusion that “reason can only construct possibilities and that reality alone can provide us, by means of experience, with the fact that a thing exists” (Ameriks 2006, p. 210).


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Correspondence to Katarzyna Filutowska.

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The text is an extended version of the paper presented at the 33rd International Hegel Congress 2021 of the International Hegel Society “Hegel and Freedom/ Hegel und Freiheit”.

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Filutowska, K. The reception of Hegel in Józef Gołuchowski’s thought. Stud East Eur Thought 75, 71–85 (2023).

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