Teodycea historiozoficzna Augusta Cieszkowskiego


The article discusses a concrete case of historiosophic theodicy, viz. the conception of August Cieszkowski, in order to present the structure of such conceptions and discuss theoretic and practical problems involved in them. The starting point of Cieszkowski’s deliberations on evil is a historical fact. To substantiate for his historiosophic optimism Cleszkowski must find not only the sense of the times in which he was living but must also explain the past, with all its moral evil: social catastrophes, misery, suffering, and toil of the millions of people. Concentration on historical facts does not eliminate from the scope of his deliberations the problem of God’s acceptance of evil. This problem is simply shifted to another plane of reflections.

According to Cieszkowski, evil is not a substantive being. Genuinely substantive is only goodness, something which has been accomplished as a value. In the perspective of ends achieved by history, evil is only a state of unrealized goodness, some sort of onesidedness. Evil so conceived is produced by man who has free will and a capacity to achieve his ends consciously.

The historiosophic theodicy of Cieszkowski pardons eventually all kinds of evil which are known from history, showing how they were inevitable at the times when they happened. In this way evil becomes an integral part of history as much as goodness is, and consequently it becomes meaningless to apply moral evaluations to history.

In the perspective of historical ends which must come true no matter what means are adopted to achieve them, is turns out that the autonomous creation of history is to a large extent a mere lip service. Cieszkowski was aware, concludes the author, that it is a fundamental impossibility to reconcile teleologic vision of history with autonomy and freedom of man. And yet, he created a philosophical system containing an image of history which realizes its ends through man who is not deprived of freedom and moral responsibility.