Instytut Historii Sztuki <Posen> [Editor]
Artium Quaestiones — 15.2004

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niekomunikowalną, różnorodną i zindywidualizowaną twórczością arty-
styczną i konstruowaną schematyczną, teoretyczną jednością sztuki,
między indukcją i dedukcją, między cichym obłędem jako nieuświado-
mionym i automatycznym instynktem twórczym a kontrolującym go
zdrowym rozsądkiem - różnicę, która dla nas dzisiaj jest szczególnie
ważna. Chwistek swoim antyunizmem uderzał w fundamentalną zasadę
modernistycznej ekonomii - dążenie do unifikacji i związane z nim utra-
pienia lat trzydziestych, kiedy to awangarda weszła w fazę defensywną.

The thought of Leon Chwistek (1884-1944) — philosopher, logician, art theorist,
and avant-gardist, particularly in the crisis decade of the 1930s revealed a critical
moment in the modernist tradition which he represented as the founder of formism,
and then aptly criticized. From today’s point of view, one may be fascinated with
Chwistek attack on one of the leading strategies of modernism which was an effort to
unify different spheres of life. An extreme case in this respect as regards art theory
was in the mid-1920s Strzemmski’s unism, which he propagated also in the 1930s as
a model of social organization, pointing to similar social trends abroad. The anti-
unist critique by Chwistek, who endorsed ontological and aesthetic pluralism, oppo-
sed the modernist tendency toward unification since the early 1920s. In the history
of art theory his position is quite unique, as his conception, against the grain of tra-
dition, eliminated from the aesthetic debate the term essence of art. Chwistek was
one of the precursors of antiessentialism which later became characteristic of many
Anglo-American aestheticians of the nominalist persuasion. He rejected the logic of
the genre and verbal metaphysics which in his times, mainly due to the influence of
Husserl’s phenomenology, dominated in aesthetics and in the general theory of art
(e.g., Utitz, Ingarden). As a critical rationalist, he opposed the Wesenanschau met-
hod, as well as all the intuitionist approaches in philosophy and science, which he
proposed to replace with a constructionist method inspired by modern logic. Chwi-
stek rejected metaphysics in all its varieties, from the so-called theory of pure form
developed by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz to unacknowledged assumptions inherent
in everyday speech, because he considered metaphysical folly, including the effort to
express art in ideas, the main cause of the modernist agonism and social evil (such
as the Nazi theory of race). As an antidote, he propagated a philosophy of common
sense, but his common sense was different from the self-contradictory and vulgar
Christian or fascist bigotry, often instigating violence in social life. Contrary to
common beliefs, Chwistek claimed that there is no unified reality, as such a thing
would be self-contradictory. As a proponent of the theory of plural reality, which was
relativistic, hypothetical-deductive, and based on axioms, throughout both decades
between the world wars he insisted that according to the principle of noncontradic-
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