POLISH ETHICS: JAN HEMPEL’S EARLY ETHICAL VIEWS
The article is an attempt to reconstruct and reconsider critically the ethical views of J. Hempel as formulated in his early works (1904-14).
The axiological-normative construction (which is not a closed ethical system) that is very characteristic of the development of ethical thought in Poland is called “Polish ethics”. The article discusses the following components of the Polish ethics: the metaphysical concept of “Universum”, the philosophical concept of man, the order of values and norms, the ideal of man, and the ethical code. The axiological-ethical contents of the Polish ethics is explained, on the one hand, in virtue of the social experience of Hempel, of biographical factors, of philosophical and ideological links and by disclosing the immanent relations of that ethics to a more comprehensive Weltanschauung of which it is a component, on the other.
The order of values and norms as reconstructed here has its principal value in “Life” (which is moreover understood as a central category of ontology) and the fundamental ethical directives in the form of the requirements: a) to develop and intensify “Life” in all its domains and manifestations, b) to struggle heroically against all intellectual and institutional constraints on the “Spirit” (which is the manifestation of “Life” in man), c) to put up active resistance and undertake destructive actions against the spiritual and material limitations to man’s “freedom”.
The article shows Hempel’s attempts to codify this ethics in his representative works Kazania polskie (Polish sermons, 1907), Kazania Piastowe (Piast sermons, 1911), Bohaterska etyka Rahmajany (Rahmajana’s heroic ethics, 1914). It is also a tentative critical analysis of the moral thought and an assessment of its historical function in social life.