Background

American and Polish traditions of philosophy of culture share a unique commitment: For both, philosophy of culture is a field, method, theory, and way of life that coincide in a synoptic reflection and reconstruction of culture. As such, it is not only connected to a particular type of meta-orientation on horizons of meaning, and their respective methodologies, but also to a special sensitivity to these horizons as the realm of personal/humane concerns, purposes, and values. Both traditions of philosophy of culture practice opening up our imaginative engagement with and reflection on the myriad and ever-expanding forms of value laden being-in-the world, linguistically, artistically, historically, religiously, scientifically, and beyond. Thus, in a proximal sense, in these traditions philosophy itself is always a philosophy of culture and is also a living part of culture; even analytical philosophy of science, for example, is one form of expressing how we experience and try to make sense of reality as culturally embedded beings. By reflecting on the many ways in which we engage and experience the world through cultural activity, these traditions take a synoptic view and seek to support the exploration of what it means to be a person/human, as well as criticize practices that curtail our freedom, creativity, and dignity.

Over the last decade, American philosophers of culture have been building deep and meaningful relationships with philosophers of culture in Poland. The most prominent example is Randall Auxier and Kenneth Stikkers working closely with Polish colleagues at the University of Warsaw, such as Zofia Rosińska and Przemysław Bursztyka.

Philosophy of culture has a unique place in Poland. Unlike in the Americas, it is found throughout Polish universities in a variety of departments, institutes, and programs. Like the American tradition, it has had an important and positive effect on civic and cultural life. Further it is recognized as central to Polish philosophical canon. At the UW Institute of Philosophy, there is a tradition of what is called “anthropological philosophy of culture” (coined by Zofia Rosińska). This tradition characterizes culture as the realm of personal/humane concerns, purposes, and values. It also stresses an apophatic approach, as we can only understand ourselves through a plurality of reflections and analyses of the different forms and dimensions of personal experience of being-in-culture and never directly through some sort of “view from nowhere.” Despite its obvious shared values with American philosophy, this tradition is largely unknown in philosophy/philosophy of culture circles in the English-speaking world.

These deep relationships have led to the creation of an international journal, Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture, the first ever philosophy of culture journal of its kind and to our knowledge the only American/Polish collaborative academic journal in the world. The journal, as we see it, is but a first step, more is needed to revitalize this powerful approach to living the philosophical life.   

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