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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 32, Issue 1, 2022

Do We Need a New Enlightenment for the Twenty-First Century? Part III

Wojciech Starzyński
Pages 147-164

Three Enlightenments of Modernity in the Historico-Philosophical Conception of Kazimierz Twardowski

The aim of this article is to discuss the reflection on the history of philosophy conceived as a cycle of enlightenments in the thought of Kazimierz Twardowski. In 1895 Twardowski adopts Franz Brentano’s model of the cyclical character of the history of philosophy. In the cycle of modern philosophy, the traditional Enlightenment period of the 18th century is shown critically as the one in which the original forces of the scientific revolution of the 17th century weakened, while the philosophy of the beginning of modernity is to be seen as the proper Enlightenment. Critical reflections are crowned with a sharp critique of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy which is supposed to be responsible for a further weakening, or even degeneration, of 19th century philosophy. Twardowski when lecturing on the history of modern philosophy in Lvow in 1896–1923, softened the four-phase conception of the modern cycle as well as the key role played by Kant’s thought. But in 1904, in the context of the motto of the “return to Kant” and the formation of the Polish Philosophical Society, Twardowski delivered an important speech in which the figure of Kant was instrumentalized for the purposes of what we may call the third modern enlightenment, this time taking place in Polish philosophy.