Tadeusz Kotarbiński’s United Humanity Concept

Dialogue and Universalism 17 (1/2):21-40 (2007)


The eminent 20th-century Polish philosopher Tadeusz Kotarbiński is the author of a novatory philosophy of combating global suffering. Kotarbiński’s theory states that although humans are by nature rational, and additionally endowed with goodwill, human life nonetheless offers an endless stream of pain and suffering. Some of this suffering results from the essence of the human condition and can not be helped, mostly, however, it is the effect of the meanderings of the human mind and can be eliminated by education. More than by anything else, the human mind is brought to err by so-called phantasmats, or emotion-laden intellectual mirages, mainly of a religious, national and political nature. Such phantasmats are the source and fundament of humanity’s divisions into hostile cultures, nations and political systems, which in turn gives rise to conflict between civilizations, countries and ideologies, inadvertently accompaniedby mounting mistrust, suspiciousness, xenophobia, hatred, armaments—and ultimately war. All this means an ocean of suffering for countless individuals. Both in philosophy and praxis Kotarbiński strove to eliminate all sources of suffering, including that stemming from differences in culture, development, nationality, and politics. He believed in the motivating powers of reason and the creative powers of persuasion, and consequently sought to attain his goal by rationalization, or focusing solely on the logic-driven and common experiencing of the human fate in a bid to eradicate cultural, national and political difference. Thus united, humanity would melt into one big human state devoted to lingering inevitable suffering. Today similar views are promoted as “global humanism”—which makes Kotarbiński a pioneer of the Humanistic Manifesto 2000. An Appeal for New Global Humanism brochure.

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