Dembowski, Edward

Dembowski, Edward


Born Apr. 25 (or May 31), 1822, in Warsaw; died Feb. 27, 1846, in Podgórze, near Kraków. Polish philosopher and revolutionary democrat.

Dembowski was of gentry origin. In 1839 he joined the underground patriotic organization known as the Association of the Polish People and soon became the head of its revolutionary wing. In 1842 he founded in Warsaw the journal Przeglqd naukowy, around which radical young people were grouped. In 1843 he emigrated to the Grand Duchy of Poznan, from which a year later he was banished by the police. From the summer of 1845 he was illegally based in Galicia, where he led the preparations for a national-liberation rebellion. On Feb. 24, 1846, he arrived in insurgent Kraków and was given the post of secretary to the dictator J. Tyssowski. On February 26 he checked a counterrevolutionary plot by Kraków landlords and proclaimed the repeal of corvée, the transfer of land to peasant ownership, the liquidation of all noble privileges, and the creation of national workshops for artisans. On February 27 he headed a march that set off for Galicia to explain to the the peasantry the goals of the revolution. He was killed during an attack by Austrian troops.

An adherent and propagator of Hegel’s philosophy, Dembowski nonetheless criticized the “electicism” of Hegelianism, in which he saw an attempt to reconcile contradictory elements—“existing evil with progress”—and thereby to arrive at a theoretical justification of evil. Dembowski stressed the need for a new philosophical synthesis in which the Hegelian dialectic with its inherent principle of negation would be combined with a recognition of the revolutionary activity of the masses as the main directing force of the historical process. An attempt at such synthesis was Dembowski’s “philosophy of creativity,” which he developed under the influence of L. Feuerbach and expounded in his essay “Thoughts on the Future of Philosophy” (1845). The philosophy of creativity reflects Dembowski’s attempt to free himself from Hegelian panlogism; he shifts the center of creative development from idea to being itself, to “sentient reality.” In the spirit of socialist ideas, Dembowski developed the theory of the process of “socializations,” according to which historical development consists in the expansion of the bounds of social freedom. This freedom is realized in the political and social emancipation of the popular masses and through the abolition of private ownership. In aesthetics, Dembowski laid the foundation for revolutionary romanticism.


Pisma, vols. 1–5. [Warsaw] 1955.
In Russian translation:
“Neskol’ko myslei ob eklektizme.” In Izbr. proizv. progressivnykh pol’skikh myslitelei, vol. 3. Moscow, 1958.
“O postupatel’nom dvizhenii v filosofskom ponimanii real’nogo bytiia.” Ibid.
“Tvorchestvo kak pervonachalo (żywioł) samobytnoi pol’skoi filosofii.” Ibid.


Narskii, I. S. Mirovozzrenie E. Dembovskogo. Moscow, 1954.
Śladkowska, A. Poglądy społeczno-polityczne ifilozoficzne Edwarda Dembowskiego. [Warsaw] 1955.
Ladyka, J. Dembowski. Warsaw, 1968.


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