By Witold Gombrowicz
Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969), novelist, essayist, and playwright, was once some of the most very important Polish writers of the 20 th century. A candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968, he used to be defined by means of Milan Kundera as “one of the good novelists of our century” and via John Updike as “one of the profoundest of the overdue moderns.”
Gombrowicz’s works have been thought of scandalous and subversive by way of the ruling powers in Poland and have been banned for almost 40 years. He spent his final years in France instructing philosophy; this booklet is a sequence of reflections according to his lectures.
Gombrowicz discusses Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Heidegger in six “one-hour” essays and addresses Marxism in a shorter “fifteen-minute” piece. The text—a small literary gem filled with sardonic wit, fantastic insights, and provocative criticism—constructs the philosophical lineage of his work.
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Extra resources for A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes
If I have something to say about a subject, for example, about illegitimate children, I shall simply say it in a lecture and not in a work of art. The work of art seeks the concrete, but in the concrete, it rediscovers the universal, the will to live. Think of the miser in Molière. , but through him we can see avarice in its universal sense. Schopenhauer gives the definition of the genius, which is still very close to that of the child. The genius is disinterested. He has fun with the world. He perceives its atrocities but delights in its atrocities.
But really this horse never existed, because each concrete horse has its color. In the way that classical philosophy has operated with the concept since ancient times, as in Democritus, or Aristotle, or Saint Thomas, up to Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel, is in the void. It says: man. Abstraction does not correspond to reality. It is from the other world, so to speak. It is here that thought finds its most violent internal contradiction. And it is the basis, to use Hegelian language, of an antithesis which leads us directly to existence.
Schopenhauer gives the definition of the genius, which is still very close to that of the child. The genius is disinterested. He has fun with the world. He perceives its atrocities but delights in its atrocities. The genius in general is useless in practical life, because he does not seek his personal interest. He is antisocial, but sees the world better because he is objective. Schopenhauer makes a very good comparison in saying that a mediocre man’s intelligence resembles a flashlight, which shines only on what it is seeking, whereas a superior intelligence is like the sun, which illuminates everything.
A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes by Witold Gombrowicz