Król nie jest nagi. Wokół kryteriów ocen klasyków historiografii

Maciej Janowski



The King is Not Naked. Regarding Criterias for Evaluating Historiographiacal Classics

Henryk M. Słoczyński’s monograph (Światło w dziejarskiej ciemnicy. Koncepcja dziejów i interpretacja przeszłości Polski Joachima Lelewela, Kraków 2010) is the first synthetic presentation of Joachim Lelewel’s historical thought for many years. Lelewel, generally considered as one of the founders of modern Polish historiography, is critically analysed by Słoczyński who attempts to prove that many praises bestowed on Lelewel’s historical oeuvre are unfounded in the light of closer reading of his texts.

Słoczyński’s book is meticulously researched and sheds much new light on Lelewel’s intellectual development. It stresses, the role of the 1830–1831 uprising as a watershed in the evolution of his views on Polish history. At the same time, according to Słoczyński, Lelewel was not only mistaken in his detailed views but also used an ultra-romantic methodology that was flawed even according to 19th-century standards. This methodology, or rather philosophy of history, imposed on Lelewel preconceived metaphysical categories that determined his findings. The present review article attempts to demonstrate that Lelewel’s thought was deeply rooted in the historical thinking of his epoch and that he shared his metaphysical assumptions with other European historians of his generation. Besides, it is the intellectual value as such, rather than factual “correctness” as established by later research that should serve as the criterion of evaluation for any thinker of any past generation.

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