Born Apr. 1, 1750, in Derkaly Wielkie, Volyn’; died Feb. 28, 1812, in Warsaw. Polish public figure, man of letters, publicist, and representative of the Polish Enlightenment. Doctor of philosophy (1768) and doctor of law (1770). Of small gentry origin.
From 1776 to 1786, KoƗƗątaj was active in the Commission for National Education and directed the reform of the University of Kraków with the aim of making education more secular. Between 1788 and 1792 he participated in the Four Years’ Sejm, where he helped draft the Constitution of May 3,1791, and other progressive legislative acts. After the reactionary Targowica Confederation triumphed in 1792, he emigrated to Saxony. During the Polish Uprising of 1794 he was a member of the Supreme National Council and headed the radical republican faction known as the Hugonists. KoƗƗątaj helped prepare the Manifesto of March 24 and the Polaniec Manifesto of 1794. From 1794 to 1802 he was imprisoned in the Austrian fortress at Olmütz (Olomouc). Between 1802 and 1806 he lived in Volyn’, where he founded a lycée at Krzemieniec, and in 1807–08 he lived in Moscow.
KoƗƗątaj was the author of scholarly works on history, political economy, the theory of law, and pedagogy. He advocated the bourgeois transformation of Poland’s social and political structure and opposed serfdom. A well-known representative of metaphysical materialism, KoƗƗątaj helped propagate rationalist views in Poland and combatted the dominant influence of theology.
WORKSWybór pism politicznych. Wroclaw .
Wybór pism naukowych. [Warsaw] 1953.
REFERENCELeśnodorski, B. Polscy jakobini. [Warsaw] 1960.
A. L. GOL’DBERG