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Abstract

The paper discusses selected topics in moral philosophy of Professor Bogusław Wolniewicz. His overall approach is marked by intellectual independence and analytic treatment of moral issues. The theory of values that he has endorsed can be described as a moderate non-religious absolutism based on weak metaphysical principles. Although in general his normative position can be assimilated to the views of an enlightened liberal, it also clashes with that position insofar as he proclaimed the existence of ontological evil and supported legitimacy of death penalty.
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Abstract

The paper’s authors undertake the reflection on the stages of the evolution of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s views on the Church and its role as it is played in the lives of its singular members and in the context of the Reformation’s ethical heritage. One can distinguish among three stages of the Bonhoefferian ecclesiology, deepening his vision of the Church. As far as the first one is considered, the Church is defined as the spiritual community of believers, outside of which salvation is impossible. At the second stage the German theologian accentuates the sinfulness of man as a member of the Church. Its recognition constitutes the basis for the transformation that can take place in the human individual due to accepting Christ into oneself. The third stage is stepping into the world of „before-final” matters in the full responsibility for the choices made by particular members of the ecclesial community. The Church, as Bonhoeffer saw it, was supposed to support itself on strong pillars: on freedom, personal responsibility, imitating Christ, neighbourly love, on sacraments and Gospel. In this aspect Bonhoeffer was the faithful continuator of the Reformation program.
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Abstract

Bogusław Wolniewicz presented his axiological system in four volumes of Filozofia i wartości (“Philosophy and Values”: 1993, 1998, 2003, 2016). For Wolniewicz, just as for his mentor Henryk Elzenberg, axiology is openly assertive and encompasses a painful confrontation of opposite moral beliefs. Wolniewicz’s vision of the reality is gloom, bitter, dramatic and deeply pessimistic. In history he detects unwelcome contributions of demonic powers (Manichaeism), he also believes that human moral character is genetically given and immutable (determinism), that some people are deprived of conscience (dualism), and that the tendency toward evil cannot be reformed (non-meliorism), human reason is not sufficient for a morally good action (voluntarism), while the so-called free will is no more than a manifestation of instincts (irrationalism). Everyone follows their pleasure (hedonism), but not everyone seeks pleasure in the same actions. In particular, some people take pleasure in cruel and destructive behaviour (demonism), while some others mind their own business (utilitarianism), and rare are those who devote themselves to higher values (perfectionism). Religion is a human invention and it emerges as a natural phenomenon in reaction to the fact of mortality. The institution of the Church should nevertheless be honored even by nonbelievers because it supports conservative values. In contemporary Western civilization a crisis can be observed between the conservative part of society (‘right-handed orientation’) and the liberal one (‘left-handed orientation’). Hateful emotions appear on both sides and are dangerous to Western unity. Conservative orientation is attached to the idea of fate, i.e. irrational power that occasionally turns human life into tragedy (fatalism). Wolniewicz’s vision is close to the theology of St. Augustine (original sin, predestination, radical dualism of good and evil) but without a consolation in hope for immortality.
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Abstract

The normative system of Bogusław Wolniewicz (1927–2017) can be subsumed under three categories: (1) pessimism (fatalism, or ‘tychism’ in Wolniewicz’s terms), (2) moral determinism (‘non-meliorism’), (3) conservatism (‘right-hand orientation’). Ad (1) Wolniewicz was pessimistic in two ways: he believed human life to be tragic (fatalism) and was also convinced that most people are guided by bad instincts (dualism). Ad (2) Wolniewicz believed that moral character was biologically determined and immutable. But his strong position on this subject ignores the classical view of Aristotle or the Stoics for whom moral character (or conscience) was acquired by habit and shaped deliberately. Ad (3) I suggest that a good historical example of conservative tendency was Critias of Athens. His famous fragment of the Sisyphus contains the idea of a supremacy of laws over human passions, and reduces religion to a supportive role with respect to ethics and politics. Wolniewicz’s dualism of right-hand and left-hand orientation encourages me to distinguish between a right-wing and a left-wing perception of value. For a leftist, value is intensity of a chosen feature (progressive value), whereas for a rightist, value is an area of freedom between inacceptable extremities (modular value). On these premises I propose a simple model of axiological conflict between left-wing and right-wing citizens.
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Abstract

The concept of conscience is analyzed here in two different ways: the systematic and the historical-literary. As to the first, systematic perspective, I distinguish (in part 1) three levels of conscience and on every level I identify two opposite categories (conscience that is ‛individual’ versus ‛collective’; ‛emotional’ versus ‛intellectual’; ‛motivating ex ante’ versus ‛evaluating ex post’). In the second, historical-literary perspective, I analyze two literary cases of fictional characters usually thought of as being guided or affected by conscience. The first case is the ancient Greek tragedy and here I offer (in part 2) a comment on the Sophoclean Antigone and the Euripidean Orestes presenting them both as dramas that contain an exemplary formulation of the phenomenon of conscience. Although Antigone and Orestes express their main principles of action in apparently different words, I suggest (in part 3) the two poetical visions of conscience are equally based upon a highly emotional behavior called pathos by the Greek. Thereby I provide a reason, why ancient philosophers created a new concept of conscience intended as an alternative to the poetical vision of human behavior. The new philosophical concept of conscience was based upon an axiological behavior called ethos. I also coin (in part 4) a concept of the ‛community of conscience’ where I distinguish four ‛aspects of solidarity’ in conscience, namely, somebody’s own self, a group of significant persons, a group of the same moral principles, and a sameness of life. In the end I turn (in part 5) to a historical-literary case in Joseph Conrad’s last novel The Rover (1923), which provoked a lively discussion among Polish authors and seems useful as an illustration of several levels of ‛solidarity of conscience’.
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