MacArthur Fellows Program

Leszek Kolakowski

Historian of Philosophy and Religion | Class of February 1983

Title
Historian of Philosophy and Religion
Location
Chicago, Illinois
Age
56 at time of award
Deceased
July 17, 2009
Area of Focus
Philosophy

Leszek Kolakowski was an historian of philosophy and religion.

His philosophical investigations focused on culture, religion, epistemology, and political theory.  As a historian of ideas, he studied seventeenth-century Catholicism and the Counter-Reformation.  Kolakowski was a professor at the University of Warsaw until 1968, when he was expelled from the University for political reasons.  He was best known for his three-volume work, Main Currents of Marxism (1978).  His other works included Chrétiens sans église. La conscience religieuse et le lieu confessional au XVIIème siècle (1964), Husserl and the Search for Certitude (1975), Religion (1982), Bergson (1985), Modernity on Endless Trial (1990), and God Owes Us Nothing: A Brief Remark on Pascal’s Religion and on the Spirit of Jansenism (1995).  He also wrote fiction and drama.

Kolakowski was a professor in the Department of Philosophy and a member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago (retired in 1994), and a senior research fellow at All Souls College, the University of Oxford.

Kolakowski received a B.A. (1949) and an M.A. (1950) from the University of Lodz and received a Ph.D. (1953) from the University of Warsaw.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

News About This Fellow
September 3, 2013
"Jester and Priest: On Leszek Kolakowski"
The Nation
Leszek Kolakowski , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
February 26, 2013
"What Isn't to Be Done"
The Wall Street Journal
Leszek Kolakowski , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
December 20, 2012
"Is God Happy?"
The New York Review of Books
Leszek Kolakowski , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
July 22, 2009
"Leszek Kolakowski"
The Guardian
Leszek Kolakowski , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
July 20, 2009
"A Sense of Historical Irony"
Slate
Leszek Kolakowski , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
July 20, 2009
"Leszek Kolakowski, Polish Philosopher, Dies at 81"
The New York Times
Leszek Kolakowski , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
View all news
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