History and mission

Polish Academy of Sciences

The Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) is a national academic institution, founded by a Parliament act in 1952. PAN’s statutory goals are to promote the comprehensive advancement of science, co-ordinate scientific theoretical and empirical research, and provide expertise for practical application. PAN consists of two separate structures:

  • the autonomous and self-governed corporation of scholars with around 350 national and correspondent members and about 190 foreign members,
  • research institutes of the Academy.

PAN is located in Warsaw, with branches in Kraków, Wrocław, Poznań, Katowice, Łódź and Gdańsk.

Location of the authorities of the Academy: Palace of Culture and Science, Pl. Defilad, 00-901 Warsaw, tel./fax (48 22) 620-49-70

Basic information on the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology (IFiS PAN)
The Institute of Philosophy and Sociology is one of research centres of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Institute’s primary objective is to carry out advanced research in philosophy and sociology as well as in cognitive and communication fields. Apart from its research activity the Institute is engaged in education, publishing and popularisation of science.

In 2004 the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology gained the status of the Centre of perfection granted by the Ministry of Science and Informatization, as the first – and so far the only – institute in the First Department (of Social Sciences) of PAN.
The Institute of Philosophy and Sociology was established in 1956; Professor Adam Schaff, who masterminded the Institute’s idea, was nominated its first Director. Following a wave of political liberalisation many distinguished philosophers and sociologists of the inter-war period such as Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz and Tadeusz Kotarbiński re-entered academic life and joined the Institute. Among the sociologists who co-created the Institute there were such distinguished scholars as Stanisław Ossowski, Maria Ossowska, Józef Chałasiński and Jan Szczepański.

In the early years (1956–1968) the Institute’s main research areas in sociology included the sociology of work, urban and rural areas, and methodology; in philosophy research was carried out mainly on logic, dialectical materialism, theory of cognition, the history of mediaeval philosophy, the history of modern philosophy and social thought, aesthetics and religious studies. A department working on a complete bibliography of Polish philosophy was then established. During this period the Institute has developed the co-operation with other Polish academic institutions through the organisation of national seminars. Many of its employees got engaged in work at the universities.

Between 1968–1976 the Institute extended its activity into new fields of research such as praxiology, philosophical anthropology and philosophy of nature. Research into the history of Polish philosophy started playing more important role. In its sociological division the Institute established a large Department for Survey Studies (1971), with its own network of interviewers.

New departments set up to investigate current social issues supplemented the organisational structure based on the traditional divisions of sociology. The Department of Social Prognosis and the Department of Social Problems in Health were founded. Sociologists focused on studies of various aspects of social change in, resulting from processes of industrialisation and urbanisation.

In the early 1970`s IFiS sociologists more and more often combined theoretical reflection with systematic empirical research. The Institute either employed or co-operated with many scholars who represented various theoretical backgrounds. The diversity of theoretical orientations made the Institute exceptional in comparison with its counterparts in the other communist countries, which were subject to ideological pressure and condicted scientific research on a limited scale.

Many IFiS scholars won worldwide recognition, published in several languages and were awarded doctorates honoris causa from prominent universities. Among awarded scholars were: Professor Jan Szczepański (Brno University and the Sorbonne of Paris), Professor Adam Schaff (the Sorbonne, Nancy University, Ann Arbor), Professor Magdalena Sokołowska (Helsinki University, Siegen University), and Professor Włodzimierz Wesołowski (Helsinki University). Many IFiS professors lectured at foreign universities and colleges: Professor Bronisław Baczko ( Geneva University), Professor Leszek Kołakowski (All Souls College, Oxford), Professor Kazimierz M. Słomczyński ( Ohio State University), Professor Andrzej Walicki ( Notre Dame University), Dr. Krzysztof Zagórski (Australian National University, Canberra. Melbourne University) and Professor Adam Przeworski (New York University). Most of these scholars still co-operate with the Institute.

In the beginning of the 1990s the Institute underwent deep reform aimed at transforming it into a modern centre of advanced research and education. A profound systemic transformation in – the construction of the bases of democracy and free market economy – opened a unique opportunity of immediate research and analysis of grand social processes for the sociologists linked with the Institute. To this end – among other initiatives – the Sociological Research Centre was opened at the Institute in 1991. Apart from its purely cognitive value the research contributed to the creation of new social order. The research of the philosophers in the recent years has been focused on history and theoretical issues, primarily in the philosophy of science, of culture and of language. The metaphilosophical issues were also addressed through the research on the transformation of traditional philosophical categories in contemporary times. Numerous comprehensive studies were written on the accomplishments of 20th century philosophy in and abroad. The bibliographical and editorial projects dealing with ancient philosophy have been continued as well.

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