Philosophy of Culture

Prof. Andrzej Leder Head
Prof. Maria Gołebiewska
Dr Mikołaj Ratajczak

The Research Group on Philosophy of Culture (RGPC) was established in 1995. Professor Katarzyna Rosner, the first head of the Group, formulated a philosophical reflection on the transformations of culture in the second half of the 20th century as the main target of research. After the turn of the millennium new issues appeared, indicated in the current research topic: “Ethical and Axiological Aspects of Contemporary Philosophical Thought”, realized by the team since 2011. In this context, the main objective is to rethink critically the hypothesis on the ‘ethical turn’ at the beginning of the 21st century and to search for axiological foundations of contemporary normativity. As the ethical turn finds expression on the social level in a political form, the interests of the group are also spontaneously directed toward political theory.

It can be said that after 2001, unifying tendencies appeared in philosophical reflection on culture – in contrast to the findings of philosophy and cultural theory in the last decades of the 20th century. While at that time the dominant proposals were the starting point for describing cultural and social diversity, distancing themselves from “grand narratives”, now doubts about this critical approach to universalizing theses are increasing. In the writings of philosophers at the beginning of the 21st century, there is a search for general themes, a renewed recognition of the inspiration coming from positive sciences, as well as references to thinkers who had the ambition to formulate diagnoses of great intellectual scope.

Two trends seem particularly important in contemporary philosophy of culture, providing inspiration for researchers from the Philosophy of Culture Group.

On the one hand, it is a renewed question about the relationship between cultural theory and political theory, and in particular, it is a return to understanding cultural theory in its critical aspect. This is evidenced by the growing interest in the achievements and findings of thinkers, seemingly as different as Walter Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Rancière – thinkers who, however, share a penetrating critique of the relationship between cultural symbolizations and the political, social and economic organization of society. It seems that a certain ethical intention can be found at the basis of these critical studies and findings – the intention to re-examine the normative foundations of thinking. Andrzej Leder’s research goes in this direction, using the possibilities of psychoanalytic thought as a critical theory, used in various areas of contemporary social theory and humanities: primarily history and economics.

Dr. Ratajczak’s research also fits into this trend. All projects he carries out develop the concept and methodology of philosophy as the history of concepts and ideas. One of the most important sources for cultural and social theories, and philosophy of politics with universalist ambitions in the 20th century was Marxism, conceived both as a philosophy of culture and a critique of political economy This field of research is pursued by Dr Mikołaj Ratajczak.
Critically working through both post-structuralist genealogical and deconstructive projects (including Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Derrida) and various traditions of the history of concepts and the history of ideas (Koselleck and the history of concepts, the history of ideas from Cambridge, the so-called Warsaw school of the history of ideas) , Dr. Ratajczak tries to analyze selected concepts from the area of political and social philosophy from the perspective of their history. He also continues research on contemporary Italian political philosophy, in this area he is one of the few specialists in Poland.
The second line of research aims to describe the status of the subject of perception and the subject of action in the changing technological and economic conditions of contemporary culture. This research concerns the role of the subject in establishing meanings and values, existential, axiological and ethical entanglements of visual and verbal performance, and semantic and communication issues in contemporary philosophy. The characterization of the status of the subject of perception and action largely concerns the passive subject – receptivity, passivity. Nowadays, the frequently emerging issue of receptivity and passivity is considered in a phenomenological and existential context. In his texts, Dr. hab. Maria Gołębiewska goes beyond epistemological findings on the receptivity and passivity of the subject and also deals with ethical, political and methodological aspects – questions about the performative aspect of silence and refusal to act, about the reactive and retroactive subject of political choices and actions and law.

Address: Instytut Filozofii i Socjologii PAN

00-330 Warsaw, Nowy Świat 72, room 265,

Tel. +48 22 657 28 14, fax.: + 48 22 826 78 23

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