The History of Life, the Power of Religion. Stanisław Brzozowski and Catholic Modernism

Leszek Augustyn

The following article reconstructs the place of the strands of catholic modernism and their role in the philosophy of Stanisław Brzozowski (1878-1911). The emphasis is obviously put on the last works of the Polish philosopher. Marian Zdziechowski (1861–1938), thinker of an older generation and of entirely different intellectual and spiritual genealogy, will serve as a starting point. Following Zdziechowski’s questions, and at the same time moving beyond them, the proposed reflection starts with the philosophy of work in relation to the Catholicism, steadily emerging on the horizon of Brzozowski’s thought. Brozozowski defines consciousness against the backdrop of the crisis of culture (including religion) and opposes the desire to transcend the “antinomy of life and thought,” resulting in the abandonment of abstraction when facing life (sacramentalism of life). Lastly, he recognizes culture as a “form of life of values”. These issues led Brzozowski to the reevaluation of his views regarding both religion and Catholicism and to the vindication of their role in culture. In the article there will be also direct references to the Catholic writers who influenced Brzozowski’s thought (Alfred Loisy, George Tyrrell et al.). The article is an attempt to touch upon this particular and irksome intellectual interpretation which, in the context of the evolution of Brzozowski’s thought, is linked to the question of religion. The article was also affected (but only “affected”) by the existential meaning of religion (i.e., Catholicism) for the Polish thinker.


Keywords: Stanislaw Brzozowski · Catholic modernism · Polish philosophy · philosophy of religion

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