Tracking the Formation – with Traces of „Formation”. An Analysis of the Concept of Intellectual Formation in the Boundaries of Historicity by Barbara Skarga

Joanna Mazur

The article is an analysis of the term “intellectual formation” as defined by Barbara Skarga. It is the keyword for her work The Boundaries of Historicity (Granice historyczności) published in 1989. Th is thesis is crucial for the philosopher’s academic achievements and is a signal of a shift  to more theoretical problems as well as metaphysics. Th e abovementioned changes are visible in Skarga’s multi-level defi nition of intellectual formation. Within its frames she marks out four levels: problems, with which in given times scientists and thinkers were struggling, the conceptual apparatus used to its description, methods of its explanation and proving the hypothesis and a corpus of ontological and axiological thesis, which marks the boundaries of what may be called epistemological field of the epoch (Bachelard) or episteme (Foucault). The fourth level, episteme, is singled out as the most important element of the refl ection concerning intellectual formation.The term “formation” is at the same time, among other terms such as “community” or “collective”, the substantial component of the debate concerning the Warsaw school of the history of ideas and attempts to defi ne its essence. Th e article is an attempt to interpret The Boundaries of Historicity as a text that is in a way self-referential; and to search in Skarga’s work for traces which can be seen as  a description of the philosopher’s experience of co-operation within the community called the Warsaw school of the history of ideas. Th e interpretation is based on an attempt at reading The Boundaries of the Historicity as closely to the historical context as possible, and taking into consideration the biography and academic achievements of Barbara Skarga. In the last part of the article I attempt to describe how the term “intellectual formation” and its elements, in the definition created by Skarga, may be used in further research concerning works of thinkers connected to the Warsaw school of the history of ideas.


Keywords: intellectual formation · episteme · Barbara Skarga · self-referent · Warsaw school of the history of ideas · utopia

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