The Relevance of Models. Idealization and Concretization in Leszek Nowak

Scientific Study, 2021

231 Pages


Table of Content


Chapter I
Origins and characters of the Poznań School of Methodology
1.1. The cultural background
1.2. Science, Marxism and Metaphysics in Leszek Nowak
1.3. Kmita and Nowak
1.4. Beyond Marx. The birth of non-Marxian Historical Materialism
1.5. Unitarian Metaphysics

Chapter II
Science and Marxian Method
1.1. Marxism as a Science
1.2. The Methodological Reconstruction of Das Kapital
1.3. The Explanation Model in Das Kapital. A Hypothesis
1.4. The Control-Requirement
1.5. The Principle of Dialectical Correspondence
1.5.1. Idealization and Scientific Progress
1.5.2. Dialectical Correspondence of Idealizational Laws. Two Examples

Chapter III
Leszek Nowak and the Idealizational Conception of Science
1.1. Abstraction or Idealization? From Aristotle to Galileo
1.2. From Archimedes to Galileo: Examples of Idealization in Natural Sciences
1.3. Idealization and Contemporary Epistemology
1.4. K. R. Popper. An Unconscious Marxist?
1.5. Instrumental Nature of Max Weber’s Ideal-Type
1.6. Idealization and Scientific Models



Leszek Nowak’s Works on Idealization

Polish Works on Idealization

Abstract: Polish philosophy of the twentieth century provided original and fundamental contributions to the development of the most important questions of logic, epistemology, and philosophy that for a long time have kept occupied the most acute minds of Western culture. However, due to a series of barriers that are very difficult to break down, few people know that many of the most important philosophical and logical-epistemological themes provided to us by the authors mentioned above have been widely and simultaneously dealt with by the leading exponents of twentieth-century Polish philosophy, who have anticipated and developed some of the most important logical-epistemological reflections of the twentieth century; moreover, some of them have become promoters and creators of the so-called idealizational conception of science. The idealizational conception of science was developed and elaborated with greater awareness and systematicity by the Polish philosopher Leszek Nowak (object of study of this work) and by the other methodologists of the Poznań School. So, in this work I will consider Nowak’s idealizational approach to science, the distinction between abstraction and idealization and the relationship of Nowak’s approach with contemporary epistemology.

Keywords: Abstraction, Approximation, Concretization, Idealization, Scientific Method.

Giacomo Borbone (1981), PhD in Human Sciences, is currently a research associate at the Department of Educational Sciences in Catania. He has worked on the thought of Antonio Labriola, the idealizational approach to science of the Polish epistemologist Leszek Nowak, Cassirer and the history of philosophy. He has written essays (also translated into English and Polish) on Leszek Nowak, Ernst Cassirer, Antonio Gramsci, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Ludovico Geymonat, Immanuel Kant, Martin Heidegger, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Popper, Emanuele Severino, Giulio Preti, Tito Vignoli, Benedetto Croce and Giovanni Gentile. Recent publications: La rivoluzione culturale di Antonio Labriola, Aracne 2012; Questioni di Metodo. Leszek Nowak e la scienza come idealizzazione, Bonanno 2016; Idealization XIV: The Role of Models in Science (edited by G. Borbone e K. Brzechczyn), Rodopi-Brill 2016; La razionalizzazione del mito nella filosofia di Ernst Cassirer, Tipheret 2018; Pensieri al limite. Sostanza, funzione e idealizzazione in Cassirer e Husserl, Diogene Edizioni 2019; Das Wissenschaftsmodell von Ernst Cassirer. Die Konzepte von Substanz, Funktion und Idealisierung, Grin Verlag 2019; Edmund Husserl und die Ideierende Abstraktion, Grin Verlag 2020.


Polish philosophy of the twentieth century provided original and fundamental contributions to the development of the most important questions of logic, epistemology, and philosophy that for a long time have kept occupied the most acute minds of Western culture; authors such as Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gottlob Frege, Rudolf Carnap, Karl R. Popper, Moritz Schlick, Thomas Kuhn, to name the most famous. However, due to a series of barriers that are very difficult to break down1, few people know that many of the most important philosophical and logical-epistemological themes provided to us by the authors mentioned above have been widely and simultaneously dealt with by the leading exponents of twentieth-century Polish philosophy, who have anticipated and developed some of the most important logical-epistemological reflections of the twentieth century; moreover, some of them have become promoters and creators of the so-called idealizational conception of science. The idealizational conception of science was developed and elaborated with greater awareness and systematicity by the Polish philosopher Leszek Nowak (object of study of this work) and by the other methodologists of the Poznań School; however, this conception was not alien to philosophers and logicians belonging to the tradition of Polish scientific philosophy, such as, for example, Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz. He knew that he was making use of an idealizational theory of science, even though he did not have a full and mature methodological awareness of it. It is precisely because of this that his teaching resulted in important repercussions on the Poznań School, which will take advantage of his lesson2. In fact, Ajdukiewicz’ teaching allowed Nowak and his School not only to further develop their seminal ideas into an articulated idealizational theory of science, but also to elaborate a rigorous logical apparatus such as to allow the possibility of formalizing many of their conceptions, thus giving a rigorous and scientific foundation to their assertions.

The reference to Ajdukiewicz seems to us to be rather necessary, otherwise very little would be learned of the thought of Leszek Nowak and of the Poznań School itself without an indispensable and unavoidable relationship to the whole cultural background on which it has built its foundations. The work of Jan Łukasiewicz, Alfred Tarski, Stanisław Leśniewski, Tadeusz Kotarbiński, Tadeusz Czeżowski, Władisław Tatarkiewicz, Stanisław Ossowski3, etc., who were part of the so-called Lvov-Warsaw School4, founded in 1890 by Kazimierz Twardowski, who in turn was a pupil of Brentano in Vienna, is part of this background. The lack of reception of these important exponents of 20th century Polish philosophy is a symptom of the lack of openness of Western culture, although some of these authors, such as Tarski, Łukasiewicz or Ajdukiewicz, were well known to specialists in logic and methodology of science. In any case, the study of twentieth-century Polish philosophy still deserves a broader study for several reasons not to be overlooked; firstly because of its contributions to the logic and philosophy of science, and secondly (and more specifically) because of its idealizational conception of science. And it is precisely on this second aspect that we will focus our attention more, because this concept has led Leszek Nowak to create a very original interpretation of Marxism, based on a careful reading of Marx’ mature works, thus demonstrating how he made use of the true scientific method, introduced in his time by Galileo in the natural sciences. The specificity of Marxism developed by Nowak and the Poznań School consists firstly in the identification of the idealizing method applied by Marx; hence the predilection for the mature works of the philosopher from Trier (such as Das Kapital or the Grundrisse). Secondly, in the reconstruction of the methodology applied by Marx, to the point of defining the latter, not by chance, as the “Galileo of the social sciences”.

This original interpretation of Marxism can be found in its most rigorous formulations not only in the works of Leszek Nowak, but also in those of other authors of the Polish school. In the 1970s, the original nucleus of this “School” consisted not only of Nowak, but also of Jerzy Kmita (1931-2012), Jerzy Topolski (1928-1998), Izabella Nowakowa, W. Balicki, W. Patryas, B. Tuchańska, S. Magala, P. Buczkowski, J. Burbelka, R. Zielińska K. Łastowski, J. Brzeziński, A. Klawiter and G. Banaszka. Since the 1980s, the “group” has been strengthened by young scholars who have referred to it to varying degrees, such as K. Paprzycka, K. Brzechczyn, A. Kupracz, K. Niedźwiadek, G. Tomczak and A. Witkowski. Since the 2000s, however, M. Ciesielski (with Brzechczyn as supervisor of the doctorate), E. Karczyńska (Brzechczyn as supervisor), B. Konat (Łastowski as supervisor) and K. Kiedrowski (Łastowski as supervisor) have joined the “School” as doctoral students. We should not forget the presence of other young scholars who, although not officially part of the Poznań School of Methodology, collaborate closely with the latter: Waldemar Czajkowski, Cezary Kościelniak, Mariusz Weiss, Maurycy Zajęcki, Tomasz Zarębski. All of them have contributed, at the same time, to increasing both the debate on the idealizational conception of science5 and to widening the fields of investigation of Marxism: one should think, for example, of the possible convergence between Marxism and Darwinism that can be found in the work of Krzysztof Łastowski, of the relationship between idealization and psychology in Jerzy Brzeziński, of the relationship between modeling and historiography in Krzystof Brzechzyn, and so on. Moreover, many of the members of the historical nucleus of the Poznań School have formed a valuable group of young doctoral students and researchers who are developing their research in the field of linguistics, metaphysics, and scientific methodology on the basis of the idealizational conception of science as developed by Leszek Nowak.

Our work aims, therefore, at analysing Nowak’s modelling epistemological conception (connecting it to the main contemporary epistemological trends).

This work, which is the result of a series of studies dating back to my first Polish stay at the “Adam Mickiewicz” University in Poznań in 2008 and which is the most updated version of the edition published for the first time in Italian in 2016, would never have been completed without the vital human and material support of Professor Francesco Coniglione of the University of Catania. I also thank the following academic authorities of the Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznań: K. Łastowski, K. Brzechzyn, P. Przybysz of the Institute of Philosophy and A. Klawiter of the Institute of Psychology, whose advice during my stay in Poznań proved to be more important than I had expected. My heartfelt thanks also go to Barbara Konat of the Institute of Psychology, to whom I am grateful for helping me to settle into a country so different from the one I am personally used to. To all these people are to be attributed the merits that the reader will find in this volume, while to me only the defects.

Giacomo Borbone Mirabella Imbaccari, April 2020

Chapter I

Origins and characters of the Poznań School of Methodology

1.1. The cultural background

We have referred, albeit briefly, to the fundamental paradigmatic role that the Lvov-Warsaw School played for the Poznań School; and it could not be otherwise, since its main exponents identified with great acumen the idealizational nature of science. These include the name Jan Łukasiewicz, both because of the indelible mark he left within the Poznań School and because of the debt that the latter owes to the Lvov-Warsaw School. Obviously this is not the place for a reconstruction of Łukasiewicz’ thought; however, it is worth mentioning that his fame is due first of all «to his activity in the field of logic, both as founder of the first non classical logical calculation, the so-called trivalent or polyvalent logic, and as historian of logic, particularly in reference to his revaluation of Aristotelian and stoic logical thought in the light of contemporary logic»6. It is no coincidence that Max Rieser called Łukasiewicz the father of Polish logic 7. Despite these merits, much less attention has been paid «to his philosophy and in particular to the original conception of science developed before his interests focused mainly on the logical theme»8. It is precisely this most neglected aspect of Łukasiewicz’ thinking that we must briefly focus our attention on. In fact, Łukasiewicz promoted a decidedly new image of science, reassessing its creative character:

Łukasiewicz strongly emphasises the creative character of science: it does not aim at the pure reproduction of reality, as in a photograph or phonograph, but is rather closer to the production of a painting by a painter9.

This innovative point of view of Łukasiewicz, which we will analyze later, exerted profound repercussions within the Poznań School in general, but especially within Leszek Nowak’s reflection, with his comparison of science and caricature. In any case, although this view of Łukasiewicz proved particularly fruitful, the salient feature of his reflection is precisely the identification of the idealizational nature of scientific laws. Łukasiewicz identifies the abstract and creative character of science in his acute analysis of the Galilean law of the fall of bodies. He emphasizes its idealizational nature, given that the entire relationship is a product of the creative activity of the human mind. Indeed, we know that the law governing the fall of heavy bodies can be true only in approximation, since it supposes such non-existent conditions as a constant gravitational acceleration or a lack of resistance offered by the air. Thus it does not reproduce reality, but only refers to a fiction 10.

It goes without saying that the term fiction clearly indicates what in the modern methodology of science is indicated as an idealized physical system. But this is not the only aspect that will be taken up and developed by the methodologists of Poznań; another peculiar element of the epistemological thought of Łukasiewicz will be that of the hypothetical character of science, on the basis of which it is necessary to take note of the fact that “pure facts” do not exist in science. This pioneering intuition, i.e. hypotheticism, leads to the conclusion that science is «an open system always in the process of being perfected in which ultimate truths are never reached and whose statements are always hypothetical in principle»11.

So, Łukasiewicz in underlining the abstract and creative character of science [...] highlights its non-descriptive and anti-inductive nature: experience is not the source of scientific hypothesis but rather the empirical basis that allows its control. This is associated with the conviction that scientific law refers to reality not directly but only after having made a preliminary idealization of it; [...] As we can see, these are themes that in Western epistemology, largely influenced by neopositivism, will emerge forcefully only after the “liberalization” of the latter and that will be typical of Popper’s reflection12.

Indeed, Łukasiewicz’ reflections constitute an objective anticipation of Popperian falsificationism, since, according to him, science consists in the construction of hypotheses from which observable consequences can be deduced that can be falsified by empirical data, through the application of the so-called modus tollens. From what has been said, it clearly emerges the paradigmatic role that the Lvov-Warsaw School assumed both for the Poznań School and for Polish philosophy in general, so much so that it is precisely this School that constitutes the backbone of contemporary Polish philosophy. In any case, returning to the Poznań School, it must be reiterated that it was characterized, in a rather meaningful way, also by an original interpretation of Marxism, since the Polish methodologists and philosophers who were part of it identified the true scientific method, that is, idealization, precisely in the classics of Marxism. And it was the very historical conditions of the Poland of the time, with communism in power, that naturally led Polish intellectuals to have to deal with the theories of the philosopher from Trier. It should not be forgotten, in fact, that in 1951, the year in which there was the First Polish Scientific Congress, Marxism became the official doctrine of both the State and the Party; a Marxism clearly borrowed from Stalinism. This decreed the victory, albeit temporary, of a dogmatic Marxism, which so much obstruction exercised against the “open” Marxisms, one of which would later be that of the Poznań School. The results of such an operation of doubtful scientific and cultural value are easily imaginable: not only did Marxism lose its critical nature but, as if that were not enough, all the precious and undisputed scientific merits of the Lvov-Warsaw School were considered “bourgeois”, whose meaning, from Stalin’s point of view, conveyed the most total contempt13. It was thus that the possible convergence between Marxism and science, which later played a large part within the Poznań School, was for the moment shelved by virtue of the rejection by Soviet communism of both formal logic and the most recent epistemological reflections present within the Lvov-Warsaw. School Leszek Nowak himself has highlighted with exemplary effectiveness the harmful consequences of Soviet dogmatism for the epistemological development of Marxism:

Soon the year 1917 arrived and Marxism became a state ideology of the triple-rule system. All criticisms of Marx, even of his most abstract theory, was out of the question. Only an enemy or renegade, i.e. an even worse enemy, would criticize Marx. “Luxemburgism” was ultimately denounced. As a result Marx’s economic theory was blocked. Instead of undergoing the normal cognitive process, which includes criticism, it underwent canonization – it became impossible even to improve the theory, if it involved showing that the original was in some way inadequate. It was only after the political thaw in 1956 that research on Marx’s theory became possible, though only by way of correspondence. Fundamental critique, such as Rosa Luxemburg’s, was exluded until the end of real socialism14.

From 1956, when Gomułka came to power, a gradual destalinization began, thanks to which it was possible to create a more open Marxism without its previous dogmatic clothes. One of the first operations that such Marxism could carry out was, first of all, a re-evaluation of the work of the Lvov-Warsaw School, with a consequent rapprochement between Marxism and science, which had been neglected for too long. In short, thanks to destalinization, a decidedly more fertile environment was created for the development of philosophy and science in Poland, but above all, to remain within what interests us most, more fruitful for a not irreconcilable relationship between Marxism and science. In fact, many Polish intellectuals prepared the ground for the future Poznań School in a certain sense; among these it is worth mentioning first of all Jerzy Giedymin, a pupil of Ajdukiewicz, who taught at the University of Poznań (founded in 1919), which was also important for having introduced Popper’s thought in Poland. Among others, the logical Roman Suzko, who was a lecturer for a certain period in Poznań, and the sociologist and methodologist Andrzej Malewski - who was also, as Giedymin, a student of Ajdukiewicz and a lecturer in Poznań - should be mentioned, especially for having tried to apply to Marxism the standards of rigor prescribed by contemporary epistemology and for having stressed the role of idealization in sociological research. In short, the University of Poznań could boast of the activity of illustrious logicians, philosophers, epistemologists, historians of art and philosophy, and so on, such as Tatarkiewicz, Zawirski, Wiegner, etc., and it was precisely thanks to the works of these authors and of the others mentioned above that the subsequent methodologists of Poznań did not find themselves unprepared in their accurate methodological analysis of the classics of Marxist-Leninism, mathematics and cybernetics in order to develop the Marxist methodology. Francesco Coniglione and Roberto Poli have indicated two points that according to them are essential for understanding the genesis of the Poznań School:

(1) the presence within the reflection of some authors belonging to the Lvov-Warsaw school of considerable ideas in the direction of a non-positivist epistemology, that is, not aligned with the theoretical proposals that in the same period were put forward by the most famous “cousins” of the Vienna Circle, with whom they were wrongly often assimilated; (2) subsequently, in Poland dominated by the communist ideology, the need felt by the most sensitive intellectuals to escape from a self-referential ideological dogma, to confront the most advanced currents of contemporary epistemology and respond in this way to the challenge that, on the level of severity, was launched to them by the previous analytical and logical tradition of the Lvov-Warsaw school15.

In fact, these points highlighted by the two Authors faithfully reflect the framework within which to place the initial historical-philosophical analyses on the Poznań School; in fact, if one considers its initial historical and academic vicissitudes, one can notice how the influence of the main exponents of the Lvov-Warsaw School and the exit from the Soviet communist ideology were actually its salient features. In an attempt to reconstruct an overview of the academic assignments of the University of Poznan, we recall more precisely that Tatarkiewicz held the chair of aesthetics for two years (1921-23); in 1920 the sociologist Florian Znaniecki obtained the chair of Sociology (the first in Poland); in 1928 Zygmunt Zawirski, a former pupil of Twardowski and Łukasiewicz in Lvov, was appointed professor of Logic and Methodology of Science; and finally in 1934 Adam Wiegner became professor of Philosophy. And it was above all thanks to the efforts of Zawirski, Znaniecki and Wiegner that a new air was breathed into philosophy studies, thanks to the introduction of the main philosophical and scientific themes present within the Lvov-Warsaw School and neopositivism. The fate of the University of Poznań changed after the outbreak of the Second World War: later, if on the one hand, with the establishment of the communist regime, some of its members had to emigrate, including Znaniecki, on the other hand the war itself began a new period of development that saw, on the one hand, the continuity with the pre-war philosophical activity, on the other hand, the establishment and spread of Marxism in academic circles (subject of obligatory study for students of all faculties). At the end of the war Wiegner not only resumed his teaching in 1945, but in 1951 he also obtained the position of director of the chair and laboratory of logic, but in 1946 Ajdukiewicz occupied what had previously been the chair of Zawirski (precisely in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences), which however left in 1956 to go to Warsaw. Ajdukiewicz was succeeded by Seweryna Romanhowa-Łuszczyńska, while Wiegner was succeeded in 1959 by Giedymin, who in turn was replaced in 1968 by his assistant and disciple since 1958, namely Jerzy Kmita. The following year the Institute of Philosophy was founded, composed of various departments such as the History of Philosophy department, directed by S. Kaczmarek, the Marxist Philosophy department, directed by Jan Such, and the Methodology and Theory of Science department headed by Jerzy Kmita. In fact, it was precisely with the birth of the Institute of Philosophy that those young students destined to give birth to the School of Poznań were formed. All this was possible not only thanks to the possibility of the Institute of conferring the title of doctor of research, but also by the strengthening of the structure, which included five departments in 1977: Logic and methodology of science (dir. J. Kmita), Marxist philosophy (dir. Jan Such), History of Marxism (dir. S. Dziamski), History of philosophy (dir. S. Kaczmarek) and Dialectic of knowledge (dir. L. Nowak).

At the beginning of our work, we mentioned the importance of the thought of Jan Łukasiewicz within the Poznań School, in order to highlight all those elements which this “School” will treasure; but also the influence of the thought of the logical Ajdukiewicz, who was undoubtedly the one who most of all made possible the birth of the Poznan School, should not be overlooked. On the other hand, many of the young scholars who would later come together in this “School” were formed intellectually just around his person, inheriting many epistemological and philosophical attitudes. For example, one of the essential elements of Ajdukiewicz’ thought was the need for a sort of “empirical logic”, that is, a logic that was not only the abstract and sterile cultivation of formal algorithms for its own sake, but that could show its usability, both cognitive and social, through its use in the analysis of methods actually applied in scientific practice. The important consequence of this approach, based above all on the empirical characteristics of knowledge and on the re-dimensioning of conventional aspects, was that of providing tools that could be used by the various scientists involved in the particular specialist disciplines, helping them to better understand their work and to make it more effective; it is not by chance that scholars grouped around the figure of Ajdukiewicz used to cultivate different disciplinary fields such as logical, economic, legal, philosophical, etc. (e.g. Giedymin was both a philosopher and a methodologist, Ziembiński a jurist, Suzko a logician, and so on). Among the main students of Ajdukiewicz there was the already mentioned Giedymin who, as we have already said, introduced in Poland the thought of Popper, whom he met in England during some study visits. Giedymin deeply influenced the Poznan School: both Kmita and Nowak were his assistants. Among other things, Kmita wrote with Giedymin an introduction to logic, the theory of communication and the methodology of science that was for a long time the textbook on which the youngest scholars were trained. Another important pupil of Ajdukiewicz was Zygmunt Ziembiński, methodologist of law, who exerted a lot of influence on his students who initially trained as methodologists of law (among them A. Klawiter, W. Patryas and L. Nowak himself). As we have already mentioned, Ajdukiewicz was also the pupil of the distinguished logic Roman Suzko, author of a non-fregean logic through which he tried to formalize some of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s fundamental ideas. The importance of Suzko, especially for the Poznan School itself, is thus summarized by Coniglione: His work is important above all because, referring to the classical concept of truth elaborated by Tarski, he enriches it with the introduction of the concept of model: truth is a relation between a statement in a given language and a certain model M of this language. Thus, while Tarski’s traditional formulation established a relationship between an assert in a given (formalized) language and reality, now in Suzko’s theory there is no direct reference to reality but to an M -model in the given language; only later can one move from model to reality. In short, in this way the relationship between language (and, consequently, the language of science) and reality is more mediated than in Tarski’s primitive position: it is in the spirit of this position that the scholars of the Poznań school will move. Moreover, during his stay in Poznań, Suzko also elaborated a vast reconstruction of some important parts of Marxist epistemology in terms of the logical theory of models. The result was a brilliant article that showed how it was possible to retranslate some obscure concepts of Marxism into a clear and controllable form. Although the Poznań school later rejected some of the solutions, its way of proceeding and its intellectual style had a great influence16.

Another important exponent of the Poznan School was Adam Wiegner17, who developed a methodology far from the radical empiricism of the last Ajdukiewicz. The peculiarity of Wiegner’s reflections consisted in the elaboration of the so-called “holistic empiricism”, based on some fundamental assumptions, among which the rejection of the concept of experience as it was conceived by the empiricists linked to David Hume’s lesson. Of such a form of empiricism he particularly vehemently criticized the associational conception according to which concepts are genetically taken from discrete experience and assembled in abstract entities (as in the case of the causal relation); on the contrary Wiegner became a supporter of a substantially different point of view, proposing, in this way, a conception of experience linked not to Hume but to Twardowski: experience is understood in an active way, as a totality in a certain way complete, with its own structure, and already connected by causal links; so that the “empirical data”, of which we speak in the current theories of knowledge as simple elements given in direct experience, are rather not the primum, but the fruit, the result of the abstract process. Hence, two particularly important consequences: on the one hand, Wiegner supports the thesis that experience can never be the genetic source of scientific theories, but only their evaluation criterion and on the other hand, the theoretical character of any science, that is, the fact that his statements always contain non-observational terms, of a hypothetical nature, thus presenting strong similarities with Popper.

Moreover, one should not underestimate, within Wiegner’s thought, the almost perfect basic concordance existing between Wiener’s holistic empiricism and the well-known thesis Duhem-Quine. Duhem argued that «a physics experiment can never condemn an isolated hypothesis, but only a theoretical whole»18 ; as is well known, Duhem believed that this thesis was applicable only to physical phenomena, while Quine, in his well-known essay Two Dogmas of Empiricism (1951)19, after expressing his rejection for the distinction between analytical assertions and synthetic assertions and for reductionism, took up Duhem’s thesis but considering it in fact applicable to the whole of human knowledge. Well, Wiegner formulated very similar theses regarding the philosophical meaning of the Gestalt theory, as Izabella Nowakowa pointed out in an essay dedicated to the holistic empiricism of the Polish thinker20. Another important aspect, even though only in terms of cultural direction, was the interest that Wiegner aroused among his students regarding Marxism prevailing in Poland at the time. Although Wiegner was not a Marxist, he nevertheless expressed a strong interest in this philosophy which, although marked by the obscure Hegelian language and by an excessive dose of scholasticism, must have contained a rational core. According to Wiegner the solution could only be found in the birth and cultivation of semantic reflection among the Marxists and in the spread of logical and linguistic culture.

This is precisely what will be done in the Marxism of the following years, following its re-evaluation of the work of the glorious Lvov-Warsaw School; on the other hand, on what other logical-epistemological bases could the Marxists have strengthened and refined their conceptual apparatus?

From what has been said, it is clear that both Wiegner and Giedymin were of fundamental importance for the Poznań School: they contributed more than anyone else to providing that style of thought and that logical-formal apparatus which, inherited from the great logicians of the Lvov-Warsaw School, will then flow into the works of the methodologists and philosophers of Poznań. Another element not to be underestimated was also the hypotheticism of Ajdukiewicz, who largely anticipated that typical of Popper, and which also constituted the resumption of that line of thought that we saw in the Lvov-Warsaw School was represented by Twardowski, Łukasiewicz, Czeżowski and by the first Ajdukiewicz, a resumption for which the introduction of Popperism constituted only the external stimulus, otherwise without effect if it had not found a pre-existing philosophical and methodological sensibility.

The favourable conditions for the development of this philosophical climate were also created by another pupil of Ajdukiewicz, Andrzej Malewski, sociologist and philosopher of the social sciences. Malewski was trained at the University of Poznań, where he was first assistant and doctoral student at the chair of Philosophy and later became senior assistant at the chair of Logic previously held by Ajdukiewicz. He passed to the Academy of Sciences in 1956, where he obtained his Ph.D. under the guidance of the aforementioned S. Ossowski. In 1961, after having spent some time in the United States for study purposes, he was appointed director of the Department of Social Psychology at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Academy of Sciences in Poznań. The role he played in the Poznań School is certainly of great importance as he was able, among other things, to collaborate with the historian Jerzy Topolski, with whom he wrote an important volume of methodology of the historical sciences. Malewski’s influence in Poznan’s environment was twofold: first, he consciously elaborated the concept of idealization in reference to the social sciences, also referring to Marx’ work; second, he wrote some articles dedicated to Marxist historical materialism, criticizing the methodology from a point of view close to the theses of neopositivism. However, Marxism was harshly criticized by Malewski, who came to substantially negative conclusions about its cognitive value, but this criticism did not lead to its demonization or abandonment by the environment of Poznan, rather the study of Marxism gave rise to one of the most extraordinary cultural events of the twentieth century, linked to a methodological reconstruction of the work of Marx, which materialized in the so-called Idealizzational Conception of Science (I.C.S.).

But let’s now give a brief information about the figure of Leszek Nowak, who is the author who interests us most for the purposes of our work. In the following parapraph I will provide a brief description of Nowak’s life and work.

1.2. Science, Marxism and Metaphysics in Leszek Nowak

Leszek Nowak was born on 7 January 1943 in Więckowice, a town in the Małopolska region in southern Poland. He first studied law at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań from 1961 to 1965 and then philosophy at the University of Warsaw (1966). Since the beginning of his academic life Nowak has always maintained his contacts with the Adam Mickiewicz University, first with the Law Department and then with the Institute of Philosophy, participating, among other things, in the seminars of Czesław Znamierowski, Zygmunt Ziembiński and Jerzy Giedymin. His first writings date back to 1963 and were mainly focused on issues related to logic and the theory of law.

In 1967 he wrote his doctoral thesis entitled Problemy znaczenia i obowiązywania normy prawnej a funkcje semiotyczne języka (Problems of meaning, validity of legal norms and semiotic function of language), under the supervision of the aforementioned Ziembiński. In 1970, he was qualified in general methodology with the work U metodologicznych podstaw Kapitału Karola Marksa (The methodological foundations of Karl Marx’ Capital). He became a professor without chair in 1976 and a professor with chair in 1989. In 1985, because of his strongly critical ideas towards the communist ideology, he was expelled from the university by the then Minister of Education (who had previously also been rector of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań), and then returned to his work again in 1989. He was visiting professor at several Western universities and fellow at the Institute of Advanced Research in Wassenaar and Berlin. Since 1975 he has also been the founder and editor-in-chief of the Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, of which there is also the Polish version published since 1976, i.e. the Poznańskie Studia z Filozofii Nauki, whose title, since 1992, has been changed to Poznańskie Studia z Filozofii Humanistyki (even though they both exist now). Nowak was a member of the Polish Workers’ Party from 1962 to 29 August 1980, but because of his hostility to the Soviet communist ideology he was imprisoned on 13 December 1981 and then left prison in December 1982. Despite his time in the prison camp, Nowak did not stop working at all, to the point that «working at home or in prison was the same for him, as he spent most of his time at home studying. So, ironically, the prison was like his home»21. In fact, Nowak used to teach in prison and write his speeches, but it is also true that if the prison did not adversely affect his intellectual activity, the same cannot be said of his physical state. It was in prison that his physical condition began to deteriorate and then intensified severely in recent years. Unfortunately, as a result of this deterioration in his health, Leszek Nowak died on 20 October 2009 at the age of 66.

The intellectual development of Nowak can be summarized in several phases, the first of which goes roughly from 1963 to 1967, a period in which he developed some reflections on the logic and theory of law. In the following two years Nowak published a work on the methodology of jurisprudence and the important volume written with Jerzy Kmita entitled Studia nad teoretycznymi podstawami humanistyki (1968), which actually sanctioned the birth of his “School”, since it already contained the main methodological guidelines of the latter. The second phase covers about a decade and goes from the ‘70s to the ‘80s, when Nowak systematically developed the idealizational conception of science as well as the categorial conception of dialectics. The third phase, which lasts until about 1987, is characterized by Nowak’s social philosophy, the so-called non-marxian historical materialism. Although Nowak’s work is mainly linked to the idealizational conception of science and to non-Marxian historical materialism, which constitute the main lines of research of the Poznań School, however, to these three phases we must add a further articulation characterized in a metaphysical sense, with the elaboration in recent years of the so-called “unitarian negativistic metaphysics”, which has been assigned to a ponderous work in three volumes, as well as to several articles, only some of which are available in languages other than Polish22.

Nowak has tried to develop this conception on the basis of the epistemological premises of his previous theoretical acquisitions, the philosophical implications of which, for an exact evaluation, however, go beyond the limits of this work; in fact, since the latter focuses mainly on the idealizational conception of science, it will provide the reader with a somewhat reduced exposure of both non-marxian historical materialism and unitarian metaphysics. The number of his publications is very large23 and the latter mainly focus on the idealizational conception of science, on the themes connected to the so-called non-marxian historical materialism and on unitarian metaphysics (obviously without neglecting the more strictly epistemological themes that today are cultivated by the other members of the Poznan School).

1.3. Kmita and Nowak

In 1968, the year in which the already mentioned work Studia nad teoretycznymi podstawami humanistyki (Studies on the theoretical foundations of the human sciences) written by Kmita and Nowak appeared, the adventure of the Poznań School began, even if this work is the result of the joint efforts previously made by various philosophers and scholars on the German philosophy of the human sciences (especially Wilhelm Dilthey, Heinrich Rickert, Max Weber, etc.). In addition, these studies also took into account the hypotheticism of Popper filtered through the legacy of Ajdukiewicz and his pupils and this, indeed, also explains why they took a stand against both the Lvov-Warsaw School because of his lack of attention, especially in Kotarbiński’s work, to the specificity of the human sciences, both against the followers of the German historical approach, valorizing the Verstehen, and also against the phenomenological school of Krakow for the underestimation of the scientific character of the human sciences.

However, it is with the work of Nowak Próba metodologicznej charakterystyki prawoznawstwa (Essay for a methodical characterization of the legal sciences, 1968) that all the accents that will characterize the Poznań School emerge more markedly. In it there is not only a new form of antipositivist hypotheticism, but also the idealizational conception of science, which became the gravitational center around which all the research of the methodologists of Poznań revolved. Another of the main exponents of this School, the already mentioned historian Jerzy Topolski, advocated, towards the end of the sixties, the so-called “Marxist shift”, consisting in the revolutionary operation based on the reconstruction of the methodology applied by Marx in Das Kapital as well as the classics of Marxism24. It is precisely from these lines of research that the fundamental collective volume Założenia metodologiczne “Kapitału” Marksa (Methodological Introduction to Marx’ “Capital”), published in 1970, came to light. It includes the unitary effort of those young scholars of the Poznan School who decided to climb the steep peaks of idealization present, in their opinion, in Marx’ Das Kapital 25.

The scholars who gave birth to this important volume were J. Topolski, J. Kmita, J. Such, L. Nowak, W. Balicki, and S. Dziamski. As we have already mentioned, the central idea of their volume consisted in the fact that in Marx’ Kapital it was possible to find, even if in an implicit and elliptical form, in any case not systematic, the authentic method that characterizes every scientific investigation that has reached methodological maturity. The epistemological insights previously developed by Kmita, Topolski and Nowak were confirmed by Marx and, at the same time, Marx assumed for the Poznań School the role of the one who first applied the authentic scientific method to the economic sciences, just as Galilei was the first to apply it to physics.

On this aspect K. Szaniawski, writes: The theoretical position of the Poznań group can be outlined as follows. First, we have to reject the current interpretation of Marx’s views on the nature of scientific knowledge. According to that interpretation, Marx maintained that abstract statements, constituting scientific theories, are obtained by means of inductive generalization. This, however, is inconsistent with the fact that Marx used to distinguish between essential and inessential factors in opposition to the positivist view which replaces the concept of essence by that of repeatability. The genuine position of Marx will then have to be reconstructed from his scientific practice, i.e. from the method he used in building up his economic theory. A careful analysis of Capital shows that Marx proceeded in a much more complex way than by simple induction. He started by formulating a law (for instance, the law of value) in a highly idealized form, i.e. under assumptions which are patently untrue: that capitalists are directed by one goal only (maximizing the surplus value), that the commercial profit on the goods produced equals zero, and so forth. In this form, the law is simple and shows the essential relation between value and price. The next stage consists in successive concretizations of the law. The simplifying assumptions are removed, one by one, which brings the law closer to the phenomena it intends to describe26.

From this came the so-called method of abstraction (idealization) and gradual concretization, which, according to the philosophers of Poznan, constitutes the central element of Marxist philosophy of science. But in any case, being Marxist did not only mean accepting the ontological assumptions and epistemological theses of Marxism, but also believing that it could constitute the theoretical basis for a sort of “Keynesian reform” of real socialism27. On the other hand, it was no longer a question of “repeating” Marx, as was common among many Western and Soviet Marxists of the time, but rather of “overcoming” Marx through Marx (or against Marx). But, with regard to this aspect of Nowak’s thought, it should be pointed out that, when the group of scholars belonging to the Poznan School was formed, if the idealizational conception of science was the backbone of its scientific research, the unity of intent was put to the test when Jerzy Kmita began to highlight the differences between his interpretation of Marxism and that of Nowak. Although Nowak tended to emphasize on several occasions the similarities between what would later become the two main groups of the school, namely the nowakian one and kmitian one, Kmita, on the other hand, was more inclined to see the differences that have marked the School since the beginning. But let’s see what were the differences that these two groups were hatching within themselves.

A fundamental difference, in fact, was given by the fact that Kmita came to Marxism not thanks to the awareness of the importance of the Marxist method, but continuing along the path already taken in the volume written together with Nowak, that is, through the further elaboration of the method of humanistic interpretation that leads to his fundamental work Z metodologicznych problemów interpretacji humanistycznej (Methodological Problems of Humanistic Interpretation)28. In this work, Marxism was complementary to Max Weber’s thought, while for Nowak it was the core of all its elaboration. For these reasons Kmita considered as fundamental the theory of rational action completed and further specified in the direction of the Marxist theory of the “genetic-functional explanation” which he later summarized with the name of “historical epistemology”29. This last aspect will be further developed by him, even if it will always be the theory of rational action, plus a certain interpretation of Marxist social theory intended to give a plausible explanation of what men believe and desire, to constitute the fundamental and constant pivot of his research and philosophical-epistemological reflections. In order to understand the subsequent changes that have occurred within the Poznan School, it is appropriate to refer to an important volume edited by Kmita, namely Elementy marksistowskiej metodologii humanistiki, (Elements of Marxist methodology of the human sciences)30. This work contains contributions by philosophers from the Institute of Philosophy and the historian Jerzy Topolski, as well as by various scholars specializing in non-philosophical disciplines such as economics, sociology, and so on. The essays in this work present important contributions about the methodological reconstruction of Marx’ Das Kapital and the classics of Marxism and about the possible application of this methodology to the human sciences. But, as Coniglione points out, this work is important above all for the following reasons: [...] it presents the three fundamental research directives which were considered to be at the basis of Marx’ scientific practice: the directive on idealization and concretization, the directive on the rationalizing approach to human activities and finally the directive on the genetic-functional explanation of the convictions which motivate human actions on a social scale31.

It is precisely the questions that will emerge from the aforementioned “fundamental guidelines” that will provoke the debate that will then lead the Poznan School to a split: We can try to classify the different orientations within the school as follows [...]: 1) Nowakian group, which develops in particular the idealizational conception of science and the categorical interpretation of the dialectic and then, in the second half of the 70's, applies these concepts to a refounding of historical materialism, renamed "non-marxian historical materialism". It is with this group that the school of Poznań is generally identified, because of its greater vitality, its greater capacity to involve scholars from different backgrounds and also its capacity to make its concepts bear fruit in different disciplinary fields (from economics, to biology, to psychology, etc.).This group includes (in order of seniority of affiliation): Patryas [...] (methodology of sciences in general), Nowakowa [...] (methodology of physics, dialectical correspondence, problem of truth), Łastowski [] (philosophy of biology), Brzeziński [...] (methodology of psychology), Buczkowski [...] (non-Marxian historical materialism, methodology of social and political sciences), Klawiter [...] (methodology of historical materialism in general), Zielińska [...] (philosophy of biology), Brzeziński [...] (methodology of psychology), Buczkowski [...] (methodology of social and political sciences), Klawiter [...] (methodology of historical materialism in general), Zielińska [...] (methodology of mathematics and science in general), Burbelka [...] (adaptive version of historical materialism), Kupracz [...] (methodology of sciences in general), Witkowski [...] (categorical ontology), Tomczak [...] (non-marxian historical materialism) and others (Brzechczyn, etc.). 2) Group of Kmitians, which develops humanistic interpretation, historical epistemologists and proceeds, in the second half of the 1970s, towards a general theory of culture. It is this second group that shows the greatest divergence with Nowak's, being more tied to historical materialism as the basis for explaining the practice of the scientist and therefore considering science as one of the fields of social practice, refusing to reconstruct the research practice of the classics of Marxism in analytical terms and to make use of logical and hypothetical categories [...]. It includes Zamiara [...] (methodology of psychology, studies on Piaget's genetic epistemology), Ławniczak [...] (philosophy of art, structuralist epistemology), Zeidler [] (theory of art), [...] Pałubicka [...] (science of culture), Ozdowski [...] (semiotics), Kobylińska [...] (philosophy of art), Gierszewski (methodology of ethnology), etc.32.

In addition to these, there would be two others, even though they do not have the same relevance as the first ones, namely the one linked to Jan Such, which tends to develop the fundamental theses of the dialectical materialism of Engels, which is halfway between the Kmitian and Nowakian group, and the one linked to Dziamski, which is more focused on the historical reconstruction of Polish Marxism, due to its basic theories. In any case, the Poznan School did not stop its laborious activity at all; in fact, if on the one hand these differences caused some brief moments of stasis, especially to clarify the guidelines of the school, on the other hand they gave rise to a lively debate in Poland, which however had to stop when Leszek Nowak was interned for his strongly critical stance against the communist regime in the period of Solidarność.

1.4. Beyond Marx. The birth of non-Marxian Historical Materialism

The term “non-marxian historical materialism” refers to that particular interpretation of Marxism given above all by Nowak, Klawiter and Buczkowski, even if the constant and fundamental contributions that were made in this sense by the other no less important members of the Poznań School are never to be overlooked. A good synthesis of the specificity of non-Marxian historical materialism is provided by Coniglione in the following words: The so-called non-Marxian historical materialism [...] consists in the radicalization of Marxist historical materialism and its extension outside the purely economic field, in order to invest also the political and ideological one. In fact, the three fundamental dependencies established by Marx - the productive forces determine the relations of production; the economic base determines the political superstructure; the socio-economic conditions determine the social conscience - allow us to identify the three fundamental moments or domains in which every social totality is articulated: the economic moment, the political moment and the ideological one. For Marx, however, only the economic moment is the fundamental one, allowing the other two to be explained as superstructural manifestations. However, the reflection on the mechanisms that regulate the systems of realized socialism leads Nowak to see how in them, unlike the capitalist system in which companies choose the productive system that allows them to maximize surplus value, it is the political moment that counts most. This nature of real socialism leads Nowak to conclude that the dependencies established by Marx are inadequate, inasmuch as they cannot explain in a satisfactory way the totality of the historical becoming; it is therefore necessary to generalize its historical materialism33.

As is well known, Marx, in his famous Preface the work Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), identified three fundamental aspects of social life: structure (production relations: e.g. the capitalist/waged labourer relationship, feudal master/servant, master/slave; within which the class struggle arises), juridical and political superstructure (State, Constitutions, laws, political parties), certain forms of social conscience (morals, art, religion, literature, aesthetic taste, and so on). In short, these are the fundamental characteristics of Marxist historical materialism34: The first work which I undertook to dispel the doubts assailing me was a re-examination of the Hegelian philosophy of law. […] The general conclusion at which I arrived and which, once reached, became the guiding principle of my studies can be summarized as follows. In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are indipendent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure35.

The resulting scheme is the following one36:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

However, Nowak, while professing to be Marxist, believes that Marx’ materialism contains within itself a series of mistakes that he tries to overcome through a materialistic criticism of Marx37. In fact, Marxism is not able to satisfy what Nowak considers to be the three fundamental requirements for a theory of the historical (Marxist) process and they are:

- Requirement of the idealizational character of the theory;
- Requirement of dialectical accuracy;
- Requirement of social progressiveness.

As far as the first requirement is concerned, it is not the case to go further into the question (which we will develop later); we just specify that Nowak’s interpretation of the Marxist methodology states that the methodological structure typical of Marx’ theories is the same as that of an idealizational theory. And we can understand his method of abstraction as identical to that of idealization. This makes possible an approach to Marxist methodology that makes the difference with respect to both logical empiricism and the more recent methodological historicism emerge. This allows us to formulate the first requirement of adequacy for a theory of the historical process, namely that it must be an idealizational theory of historical reality. The requirement of dialectical accuracy38, instead, refers to the essential structure of the quantities; in fact, Nowak specifies that the concept of dialectic should not be understood as a simple change, that is, in a simplistic and banal way. At the base of the concept of dialectics, in the conception of Nowak and of the other methodologists of the Poznań School, there is a deep and complex reflection. In fact, Marxian dialectic does not only have to do with the concept of movement or change typical of common sense (i.e. the becoming of things). Instead, it has to do with something much more specific, namely with the change in the hierarchy of factors influencing the phenomenon. Therefore, the dialectic thus conceived does not consist in affirming that things change, but that it is their essential structure that changes. This is the so-called categorical conception of the dialectics. The fundamental idea of the categorial interpretation of the dialectics consists in understanding the “movement”, which is referred to in the Hegelian and Marxian tradition, not as a change in the state of existing things, but as a transformation of the essential structure of the quantities that are relevant to them. When we are in the presence of a qualitative change then this means that the set of main factors has been transformed into a new one, while in the case of quantitative change it remains the same and the set of secondary factors varies. The dialectical accuracy of a theory, therefore, consists in its ability to properly identify the entire repertoire of the main factors for a given investigated phenomenon. The third requirement, that of social progressivity, originates from the Marxian theory of ideology. In fact, the class of the owners needs to have an image of the associated life that hides the most decisive aspects which, from the point of view of Marxist historical materialism, are the class-antagonism and the class-structure. It is in the interest of private property to have, then, an essentially false image of social reality, an image that it would like to impose on the subordinate masses. Only essentially false and ideological doctrines have the possibility of spreading in a society dominated by private property. The role of social science in a class society is precisely that of generating an ideological point of view. For this reason, in order for a social theory to reach the truth, it must reject any relationship with the ideology of the ruling classes and consciously adopt the point of view of the exploited classes. Only those who identify themselves with the interests of the oppressed masses become capable of revealing what is in fact fundamental to social phenomena and thus of reaching the essential truth. An essentially true social theory must represent the point of view of the most exploited part of this society. Once this is done, Nowak initially tries to apply the three above-mentioned requirements to Marxist historical materialism and then, finally, realizing that the latter does not meet the requirements of the Marxist methodology itself. Of the three requirements, only the first is satisfied; as for the second, Nowak states that it is not satisfied in the case of the first fundamental formulation of historical materialism (“the productive forces determine the relations of production”). In fact, if we apply it to socialist countries, we see that it is not adequate. Capitalist companies, in fact, among the possible alternative organizations of production, choose the one that, according to the entrepreneur, maximizes profits; if those who make the decision make a mistake, then they will soon realize its negative consequences. Socialist companies, on the other hand, do not restructure in order to make more efficient use of the possibilities offered by a given level of technology development. On the contrary, they are organised and reorganised by the State authority. In socialism, production relations are not adapted to the level of the productive forces but are adapted to the will of the hierarchy of power. What, according to the Marxist model, was a superstructure in capitalism, is not so in socialism, that is, in the conceptual structure of the non-marxist historical materialism developed by Nowak. In socialism, power belongs rather to the base. For this reason, in Socialism, we are not witnessing the extinction of the State envisaged by Marx, but precisely the opposite process. As far as the third requirement is concerned, namely that of social progressiveness, Nowak states that Marxist historical materialism, at least in the socialist countries, has, paradoxically, taken the form of a reactionary theory. This conclusion is justified on the basis of the analysis of the three main curvatures undertaken by Marxist historical materialism starting from Soviet communism: the orthodox curvature, the nomological curvature and the praxistic curvature. According to Nowak, Orthodox interpretation has a rather low systematic value, given and considered that it does not seek to overcome the ambiguities of historical materialism but simply continues it; praxistic and nomological interpretation are instead analyzed by Nowak with greater attention and considered worthy of being considered interpretations. The praxistic interpretation, in short, claims the impossibility of reducing history to isomorphic laws to natural ones, for which history cannot be subordinated to rigid laws of a naturalistic nature: it only makes sense because we impose it on it by our actions. Instead, the nomological interpretation, which we can trace back to the Marxism of the Second International, does the exact opposite, that is, it is based on the conception according to which there are laws of development of history based on the contradiction between the economic base and the superstructure39.

However, Nowak postulates the insufficiency of both the nomological and the praxistic interpretation (typical for example of Lukács), for the following reasons: in fact, the first completely ignores the role of the (antagonistic) class struggle, interpreting it as if the means of achieving regularity worked independently of human actions. The second, on the other hand, omits what seems to be the greatest contribution given by historical materialism to the social sciences, that is, the idea of socio-economic formation whose structure and movement are subject to objective laws. According to Nowak, the fundamental point for resolving this ambiguity then becomes that of how to join or combine the idea of class struggle with that of socio-economic formation. And it is from this problem that Nowak proposes as a solution his non-Marxian historical materialism, providing, in line with the same idealizational methodology, a series of models that can be further concretized40. The importance of non-Marxian historical materialism consists, firstly, in having highlighted, in an unprecedented way, the main defects of its historical antecedent and, secondly, in having provided an interesting and original explanation of real socialism, thus trying to provide a solution to most of the ambiguities relating to the distance existing between the Marxist forecasts and the disastrous outcomes of Stalinism. What Nowak does is to apply the Marxian method (in its idealizational interpretation) to Marx himself. In fact, if the distance between what Marx predicted and the reality of the Gulags is so great, then there must have been some fundamental mistakes in his social theory. If, on the other hand, it is true that Marx is the Galilei of the social sciences, then one cannot simply ignore him. Rather, we must do the opposite: his method - essentialist and idealizational - is directed against his own social theory, against Marxian historical materialism. For this reason, Nowak proposes the idea of a Marxist critique of Marx.

Nowak submits Marx’ materialism to a close criticism, obviously taking into consideration first of all the three fields of associated life that the philosopher from Trier places at the base of his social theory: economy, politics and culture. Nowak, and with him Buczkowski and Klawiter, also share the Marxian hypothesis that these three fields characterize the associated life as a whole, highlighting its isomorphic structure and showing how each of them is in turn composed of three levels: material, institutional and consciential. In fact, each material level consists of material means: the means of production in economics, the means of coercion in politics and the means of indoctrination in culture. The institutional level is composed of economic organisations (e.g. trade unions), political organisations (e.g. the state) and cultural organisations (e.g. churches). The level of social consciousness includes economic, political and cultural ideologies. At a later level, it is possible to conceptualise these fields in a solidaristic or antagonistic way; the first approach emphasizes the function of the social order and of the general consensus that underlies it, while for the second, it is coercion that constitutes the foundation of the social order and history is characterized by class conflicts between the oppressed majority and the oppressing minority. According to Nowak, Marx’ materialism, on the basis of this conceptualization of the three fields, is certainly a materialism, but of a purely economic type: Marx delimits, in fact, the antagonistic level to the only economic base or sphere, that is, to the only field of economy. According to Nowak, Marx made a fundamental mistake, not because he went too far in ignoring the influence of the non-material factors of social life, but rather because he proved to be a too lukewarm materialist: he did not realize that the style of materialistic thought, which he had introduced so fruitfully in the economic field, can be applied in a completely natural way even in the domain of politics and in that of the production of ideas. The possession of the means of coercion is, in all known societies, the prerogative of a minority (as is the case for the possession of the means of production). This minority has interests in contrast to the majority (in the Darwinian sense, that is, by eliminating all those who do not adapt to the course of its development) to the maximization of the control of social life. This provokes resistance from the subjugated majority. Therefore, in a word, it can be said that the division into classes exists in the field of politics as much as in that of economics. Here we have, therefore, a second pair of antagonistic classes: the one formed by the rulers (or political class), that is, by those who have the instruments of coercion, and that of the citizens. There is also a third-class division: that between the “priests” (those who have the instruments of indoctrination) and the “indoctrinates” (or “faithful”). From Nowak’s scheme, therefore, it results that Marxist historical materialism considers the political aspect or the political sphere in solidarity terms, to the point that the State is considered as a social force whose purpose is to maintain the main type of conflict, the class struggle of an economic nature, within the limits of the “order”, without carrying out any type of self-interest; political power is only a “dependent variable” of that founded on property. The same happens in the field of culture: religion is an “opium of the people” not because it responds to the interests of the clergy, but because it constitutes an ideological ancillary of private property. Marx’ approach is therefore limited to the sphere of the economy.

Nowak’s main intent, once the defects of Marx’ historical materialism have been exposed, is therefore to overcome the limitations of solidarity present in Marx and thus to extend the classist and antagonistic paradigm to the fields of politics and culture. This is because Nowak maintains that the extension of Marxian historical materialism to real socialism is, in certain aspects, unsatisfactory, in that the factor which counts most in it is not the economic factor, but the political one. In summary, therefore, within each of the three fields specified by Marx, the following three levels are identified:

1. Material level;
2. Institutional level;
3. Ideological level.

In this way, Nowak tries to generalize and to radicalize Marx’ historical materialism, precisely because he blames Marx for having been a too lukewarm materialist, for not having extended his materialist criticism also to the political and ideological aspects. However, if it is not possible to explain real socialism solely on the basis of Marxist historical materialism, it is also true that it cannot be rejected; rather, it must be generalized and radicalized, assuming a more radical materialist and classist point of view than the Marxist one. By such a generalisation of historical materialism one can see how political power consists in the fact that some minority is materialistically characterized by having the material means to control human conduct, i.e. the instruments of coercion; in this way, the self-sufficient division of society into rulers (who form the so-called “political class”) and governed (or citizens) can be defined in materialistic terms. It is in the interest of the political class to broaden its control over the activities of citizens, while the interest of the latter is to broaden its sphere of social autonomy. It is important to underline in this regard that this relationship depends on objective interests and not on the conscious aims of one or other individual, since they cancel each other out thanks to the mechanisms of competition. Therefore, it is easy to note the formal analogy between the main characters of the economic field developed by Marx and those of Nowak’s non-Marxian historical materialism and extended by them to political power. According to Nowak, the same applies also to the ideological level, that is, to the third sphere of social life; in this way, we have the three moments of society, of which it is possible to describe the internal structure. From such a generalization emerge the main theses of the so-called non-Marxian historical materialism41:

1. Class divisions do not exist only in economics, but also in the other spheres of human activity: politics and culture;
2. In economics, the material level is constituted by the means of production, which determine a division between the class of their owners and the class of direct producers;
3. In political relations, the means of coercion determine the division of a society between the class of rulers, who control the means of coercion, and the class of citizens, deprived of these possibilities;
4. In culture, the material level is constituted by the spiritual means of production, which determine a class division between the class of the “priests” who hold them and the class of the “believers”, who are deprived of them.

At this point we must necessarily refer to the historical-political framework within which Nowak found himself operating. In fact, during the period of Solidarność, and even before, to tell the truth, the communist regime used to continuously monitor the “dissident” or “critical” voices; nevertheless, as long as it was a question of criticising Marx from a methodological point of view, at least as far as the Poznan School was concerned, the communist authorities did not intend to exert any obstructive influence. Things turned out differently when Nowak, in clear opposition to communist dogmatism, formulated his non-Marxian historical materialism, which cost him internment for a year. Nowak’s criticism of the communist system proved to be both more radical and harsher than that of the supporters of the Solidarność movement; however, «Nowak’s direct participation in the revolution of Solidarność on “fundamentalist” positions and its consequent political radicalism, which opposed both the opportunism of the Church and the critics of liberal and social-democratic tendencies [...], aggravated the split in the original group, and in particular increased Nowak’s distance from Kmita - which only partly shared the positions of Solidarność - and from Topolski, which although participating had much more cautious and open positions to the agreement»42.

In short, the formulation of non-Marxian historical materialism caused many problems to Nowak, who, having been released from prison, continued to carry out his activity by holding seminars at the University as a private citizen, to finally be summoned as a lecturer at the same University of Poznań. Fundamental for an understanding of non-Marxian historical materialism is the already mentioned principle of dialectical correspondence, which Nowak uses to explain the dialectical overcoming of Marx’ theory. In fact, if it is true, as Nowak thinks, that scientific theories evolve historically, then this also applies to Marx’ theory; and it is from this point that Nowak uses the principle of dialectical correspondence. In short, according to Nowak, Marx’ social theory presented, within itself, some mistakes, although Nowak considers Marx’ historical materialism substantially valid. However, especially about the political sphere, Nowak believes that Marx was not Marxist enough for the simple fact that he did not extend his materialist criticism to the political aspect (which for Marx was the simple expression of the economic structure).

1.5. Unitarian Metaphysics

As it was said at the beginning of this work, Nowak, during its last working phase, has dedicated many theoretical efforts to the systematic development of a unitarian metaphysics. According to Klawiter and Łastowski, Nowak’s unitarian metaphysics consists in the attempt to reconcile, or unify, two at first glance irreconcilable philosophical traditions, namely the Hegelian tradition and that of the Frege-Wittgenstein axis. The Hegelian tradition is one in which «courage, depth and passion for creating a system lead to results which force one to revise the commonsense view of the world», while the Frege-Wittgensteinian tradition is the one in which «the only permissible questions are those to which a clear answer can be given»43. The starting point for Nowak’s reflections on unitarian metaphysics is represented by the critique of metaphysical positivism, which, says Piotr Przybysz, «it is not used for a specific school in philosophy, nor does it denote the metaphysics as inspired by the views of A. Comte or R. Carnap. According to L. Nowak, metaphysical positivism is the most widespread thinking pattern in today’s metaphysical discussion»44 and it is based on some dogmas; of these we indicate the most important ones for our purposes: the existence of a single world, that is to say the one which we live in; substantiality; the positivity of existence45. Nowak instead proposes in his unitarian metaphysics three different basic ideas: multi-worldness (or hypothesis of possible worlds), attributivism and negativism. As far as the first point is concerned, unitarian metaphysics defends the pluralism of the worlds. Each of them contains objects of various categories, e.g. physical objects, material points. Secondly, to the question “What is the fundamental ontological category?”, metaphysical positivism answers: the category of the object. This point of view, for example, can be found in Aristotle’s treatise Categories. Nowak instead states that there is no direct access to the object itself, but only to its attributes available to us through perception or through the mediation of language; therefore, in this case, the basic ontological category is that of property (attributivism). Finally, regarding the positivity of existence postulated by metaphysical positivism - according to which negativity originates not so much in objective reality, but in our language or our way of thinking - Nowak argues instead that negativity is part of reality itself. Therefore, the dichotomy of positive and negative is inherent in being itself and is antecedent to language or thought. As Nowak writes, «the lack of being is a sui generis being; reality includes both the positive and the negative (metaphysical negativism)»46.

Fundamental, in this context, are the procedures that Nowak uses for the construction of his metaphysics, namely the counterfactual procedures, some of which are most frequently used in the sciences. They are of two types: on the one hand we have two soft counterfactual procedures, i.e. positive and negative potentialization, and on the other hand we have two hard counterfactual procedures, i.e. transcendentalization and reduction47. For example, suppose you have an X object with a set of attributes (properties) P. The potentialization of X consists of postulating an X' object that possesses all the properties of X but at the same time has at least one of the properties of X in a different degree. If X’ has this property in a higher degree then we are talking about positive potentialization; vice versa, if X’ has this property in a lower degree then we are talking about negative potentialization. Now let’s consider instead the case of an X’’ object that completely lacks one of the properties of X; in this case the procedure consisting in eliminating the properties from the space of the properties of an object is what Nowak calls reduction; as Paprzycka states a «limiting case of a reduct is an object with no properties at all (Nothingness)»48. The opposite procedure to reduction is what Nowak calls transcendentalization, i.e. the procedure whereby an object has more properties than the original object. From these two types of counterfactual procedures it is possible to generate a universe of all that is possible or, as Paprzycka defines it, a collection of canvas of being. But before dealing with this part of unitarian metaphysics it is necessary to analyse the term “world”. In fact, according to Nowak we have to consider an arbitrary world that includes a set of U objects, accompanied by precise spaces of negative and positive attributes. We will call this world “the current world”. At this point we must distinguish three categories of worlds from the current one, that is:

1. Possible worlds;
2. Contractions or reductions of the present world built on the possibilia of reductions in U -objects;
3. Expansions or transcendentalizations of the present world built on the possibilia of trascendentalia with respect to U objects.

With regard to the first category, according to Nowak, there are worlds that have the same architectural structure as the current world and differ from the latter in the combinations of intensity of positive attributes (the possible worlds can also be defined as alternative worlds to the current one). As far as the second category of possible worlds is concerned, it must be said that the latter are possible worlds in relation to a reduction in the current world; that is, the architectural structure of this contraction contains more positive and less negative attributes than the current world. As Nowak specifies, the limit-case of this second category is constituted by worlds whose architecture contains only negative attributes; each of them can be defined as an empty world. While regarding the third category, that of expansions, according to Nowak the architecture of an expansion of the current world contains more positive attributes and less negative attributes than the current world. The extreme case of worlds of this type is constituted by full worlds, i.e. worlds provided with a purely positive architectural structure, i.e. without any negative attributes.

It is possible to notice how the fundamental category, in this case, is not that of object present in Aristotle’s metaphysics, but that of attribute because, as Roberto Poli states, «objects and attributes are not on a par. The latter, in fact, play a deeper and more substantial role than the former. Attributes are the basic building blocks of unitarian metaphysics, whereas objects are subsequent and derived from attributes»49. Attributes have both a positive and a negative aspect and this is the reason that leads Nowak to reject metaphysical positivism, because according to the latter the being is associated only with positive events: this is what Nowak calls the dogma of Parmenides. But he rejects the Parmenides dogma in favour of the negativist thesis (clearly of Hegelian type) according to which negativity is a part of reality itself. The fundamental element of Nowak’s unitarian ontology is therefore given by the situation, which is characterized by a set of attributes that adopt a certain value. The example given by Paprzycka may be useful in this regard, as it defines the situation < Aα Bβ Cγ Dδ > (with A indicating the attribute and α the value it possesses, etc.) as a complete situation in a universe with four attributes, while the situation < Aα Bβ -C - D> is a reduction of the first situation where -C indicates the absence of the attribute C. That is why Paprzycka speaks of the so-called canvas of being, since the universe of all that is possible can be compared to the canvas of being, in turn thinkable as «a table of all possible combinations of situations generated from one anotherby means of the counterfactual procedures»50. Therefore, suppose we have two attributes A and B, the possible combinations or sequences of these attributes are, of course, two, namely AB and BA, so that there are two canvas of being. Paprzycka, in the explanation of this aspect of Nowak’s unitarian metaphysics, adopts the following scheme:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

In this scheme we have one of the two canvas of being (the one referred to AB), with the assumption that the attributes A and B have only two values, that is respectively α, α’ and β, β’. In the last column we have all the possible situations that can be thought of as an effect of the potentialization procedure with respect to each other; the central column, i.e. A -B includes situations that are nothing more than reductions of the situations included in the third column, while the first column includes an empty situation, i.e. it includes Nothingness through the reduction of all the situations present in the other columns. In this case an empty world is the one that contains the empty set of positive attributes and the full set of negative attributes; therefore, according to Nowak, Nothingness can be identified with the empty set of worlds.

The foundations are thus laid to arrive at an understanding and definition of the concept of “Being”, but on condition of abandoning the substantialism of Parmenides, for whom being is something positive and spatio-temporally existing, while not-being is not and therefore does not exist, thereby excluding negativity from the ontological equipment of reality. In this way we would in fact have an identification between being, positivity and existence, while for Nowak not everything that is, is an object. [...] Instead, fundamental existences are situations to which they are not entitled to any attribute (only situations include attributes). Basic beings must therefore be situations that are not temporally and spatially determined. In fact, not all objects can be qualified as spatial and/or temporal. Such are neither contradictory objects, nor ideal objects, nor physical objects, nor forms in general. Therefore, not all things are immersed in spatio-temporality (whatever that means), but this applies only to “physical things”. Contrary to Parmenides’ dogma, there is therefore no natural relationship between positivity and existence51.

Again, to structure his vision of reality in terms of attributes, Nowak uses the concept of essentiality that we have seen has a central place in the idealizational methodology. In order to characterize the essential structure of an attribute, we use the capacity of a given attribute to exclude which values the attribute over which it exerts an influence can assume: «That a certain attribute is essential for another means that if the former assumes some quantitative value, it excludes for this very reason the possibility that the latter assumes some other quantitative value»52. Considering the fact that an attribute can have positive, negative and neutral values and assuming that the attribute A is essential for B, then it follows that the measure of the essentiality of A for B is the size of the exclusion area for the occurrence of a positive value in B. This means that if an attribute adopts a positive or negative value, another attribute can no longer adopt a positive value. And because of the opposition between positive and negative values in a given attribute, when B cannot adopt a certain positive value, it must adopt a certain negative value. In short, when A is essential for B then: (1) A adopts a positive or negative value; (2) the fact that A adopts a positive or negative value precludes B from adopting a certain positive value; (3) since B is precluded from adopting a certain positive value, it is forced to adopt a negative value. The characteristic aspect of Nowak’s conception is that what influences reality is the adoption by an attribute of both a positive and a negative value. In other words, not only the positive ones but also the negative ones influence the world53. This allows, as in the idealizational approach to science, to define a “space of essentiality” of a certain attribute that presents a hierarchical order according to the most essential and least essential attributes, so that the series constituted by these sets of attributes constitutes the essential structure of a given attribute A.

What has been said only provides a fleeting glimpse of the complexity in which the unitarian negativistic metaphysics of Leszek Nowak is articulated, which extends over three volumes and a total amount of about 1700 pages, dense not only conceptually, but with formulas and symbolic language, a characteristic of Nowak’s thought, which has often made it difficult to assimilate and understand. In any case, the essential traits of unitarian metaphysics do not seem to have brought Nowak the same good fortune that his innovative ideas on science have given him since the 1970s until today. A demonstration of this is the lack of an english translation of his Byt i myśl, a symptom of a lack of general interest in this aspect of Nowak’s thought, which in turn is the result of the difficulty in deepening its contents, so that we can say that this work and this aspect of Nowak’s thought are still largely to be explored54. However, there was no lack of criticism from those who, more or less, had the opportunity to engage with it.

Roberto Poli - although admitting that his exposition of Nowak’s conception is quite limited and that he may have neglected some essential aspect of it (and in fact his knowledge of Nowak’s work is based only on an English article by Nowak himself and on his analysis by Katarzyna Paprzycka, although influential as the daughter of the Polish philosopher) - has no doubt in considering the general structure of Nowak’s theory rather classical because its «underlying formal model is basically set theoretic, with points understood as attributes. An object is a bundle (set) of attributes. Basic attributes (“points”) are simples, by which is meant that they are not composed of other attributes. The only serious departure from other set-theoretic understandings of metaphysics is the further requisite that points (basic attributes) should vary in intensity. Different objects are therefore distinduished not only by different attributes but by the intensity (degree) of their attributes as well»55. It follows that for Poli Nowak’s argument does not present original ideas; to aggravate the situation also contributes the use of a bit of elementary algebra that in his opinion «has the effect of trivializing the idea»56. This leads Poli to argue that «unitarian metaphysics (and, for that matter, the methodology of idealization as well) is still mainly based on trivial mathematics. The problem is not that elementary algebra is wrong. Obviously, it is not. The point is that elementary algebra is too poor and too rigid a tool for ontological analysis»57.

Jan Woleński reaches similar conclusions on the basis, however, of a first-hand knowledge of the Nowakian opus magnum: unitarian metaphysics «does not have an adequate logical base»58. Moreover - after affirming that unitarian negativistic ontology is a mixture of logic and ontology - Woleński disagrees with Nowak about the relationship between metaphysics/ontology and epistemology. Unitarian metaphysics, in fact, considers metaphysics/ontology absolutely a priority to epistemology; instead, Woleński, while not going so far as to accept Ajdukiewicz’ point of view that metaphysical solutions consist in deriving their consequences from epistemological theses, is of the opinion that «every (or almost every) metaphysical (ontological) problem has an epistemological dimension»59. Nevertheless, Woleński recognizes in this last effort of the Polish thinker the nature of «genuine metaphysical treatise, brave and adventurous»60.

The impression remains - in our humble opinion - that there is still a lack of an authentic and in-depth analysis of this last phase of Nowak’s thought and that what has been written so far has been limited to some of the most evident and striking theses of Byt i myśl, without taking into account the entire articulation, which consists of different models (as many as nine, in the three volumes) which - similarly to what happens with the construction of the idealizational theory of science and non-Marxian historical materialism - represent successive steps of concretization that make the concepts expressed in the simplest model at the beginning, in the first volume, more and more adequate. In fact, this first volume is also the place where Woleński’s most accurate analyses stop.

In any case, although these aspects of Nowak’s reflections are of paramount importance, it is not possible to fully understand the evolution of his thought without a careful examination of the idealizational conception of science, which Nowak himself compared with contemporary epistemology. However, before analyzing more specifically the idealizational conception of science as proposed by Nowak, we think it appropriate to dedicate the following chapter to the methodological reconstruction of Marxist works made by the Polish thinker, within which we can find Nowak’s first insights on the idealizational nature of scientific theories.

Chapter II

Science and Marxian Method

1.1. Marxism as a Science

According to Nowak and the methodologists of the Poznań School, as we have already said, Marx made use, especially in his mature works, of the idealizational method; however, it is necessary to understand why the methodologists of the Poznan School, especially Nowak, have made a constant and wide reference to the “mature” works and not to the “youthful” works of Marx. This question, in fact, brings us back to that famous debate originated by the so-called “Western Marxists” such as Bloch, Korsch, Lukács, Althusser, and so on, according to whom there was a profound difference between the Marx of the Economic-philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 or the German Ideology (written with Engels) and the scientific Marx of Das Kapital. In this sense it could be said that Nowak is Althusserian, since the French philosopher spoke of the famous epistemological break within the Marxian intellectual development61. However, although Nowak used to make such a distinction, nevertheless the outcome of his reflection on the matter differs decisively from that of many Western Marxists. In fact, he mainly prefers Marx’ mature works, both because of Nowak’s simple distrust of the “manuscripts” and because of the scientific nature of the “late” works of the philosopher from Trier, whereas the Western Marxists considered the “real” Marx to be precisely that of his early works. In short, the starting point for Nowak and the Western Marxists is the same, but the landing place is different, as Nowak himself explains in an interview when he was asked whether the preference for the mature Marx was the result of the influence of the Polish Marxist tradition or of his own autonomous decision: The Polish Marxist tradition in the 1960s was essentially made up of Kołakowski, with his focus on the young Marx and his attempt to understand what the mature Marx had written as a kind of “application” of the ideas of his youth, as if he had done nothing else, until then, but seek the “means” to achieve the “goals” set out in the Economic-philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, Therefore our focus on the mature Marx is the result of an autonomous choice. However, I understand his suspicion: is it not true that our analytical attitude has led us to identify only in the mature Marx the “true” Marx and to neglect the young Marx? Well, it’s really true: this choice was influenced by the conceptual tools we used. In fact, it would have been rather difficult to apply the analytical tools to the reconstruction of the contents of the Economic-philosophical Manuscripts. [...] it is much easier to analyze (in the strictest sense of the term) the contents of Capital than those of Manuscripts and, I recognize, this could have been fundamental to our decision in the ‘60s. But I think it also has its own justifications, both historical and methodological. Historically, it is unimaginable to consider as a fundamental work of an author a book that he himself decided not to publish, persevering in this decision for at least forty years. If everything Marx has written during his life is nothing more than a means of achieving the goals outlined in the Manuscripts, then why has he incessantly published and republished the “means” and completely forgotten to present the “goals”? Each of us has numerous “works” written when he was still a student; [...] Imagine that one of your treatises, which you held among your papers for decades only out of a natural feeling for your own youthful naivety, is “discovered” by someone and that then numerous “interpreters” begin to declare that what you have published is meaningless and that instead your “true” conceptions are those contained in these unpublished writings of your youth: well, what would you think of it? I would submit the matter to a court of justice! Unfortunately, the only type of law suitable in such cases is natural law. Not only the living but also the deceased have “human rights”. And Marx’ rights as an author have been seriously violated62.

These are the reasons that Nowak gives about his predilection for Capital rather than the Manuscripts of 1844; however, the reasons that Nowak puts forward are not entirely satisfactory: why does Nowak in his works often turns his gaze to Engels’ Dialectics of Nature as well as to Grundrisse and Marx’ Theories of Surplus Value ? In fact, it is known to specialists that these works remained unpublished, but nonetheless Nowak makes constant use of and refers to them, forgetting, in this case, his previous mistrust of the manuscripts. The only explanation, in our opinion, consists in Nowak’s conscious choice to use Marxian and Engelsian works where there is that idealizational conception of science so dear to him. This explains why Nowak very often makes use of Marxian and Engelsian “manuscripts” which he in principle underestimates as an authentic source of the thought of an author, who in his opinion finds the best expression only in published works. Although the main idea of reconstructing Marxian science using the main Polish logical-epistemological contributions of the 20th century was first proposed by Wiegner, it was with Nowak and the other members of the Poznań School that this idea found a more systematic development (without forgetting, of course, the way of proceeding that Malewski also used in this sense). The main purpose of this operation was to reduce Marxian ideas to real statements that could be subjected to the strict rigour of logical analysis, something that was impossible to do with the obscure Hegelian language used by Marx in texts such as the Manuscripts of 1844 or the German Ideology. This incessant, and we would say almost obsessive, tendency to formalization - which is typical of a whole season of epistemology and philosophy of 20th century science, within which the Poznan School consciously wants to place itself in an effort to modernise the old Marxist vocabulary - makes it in fact difficult to read their works; however, it must be said, in partial defence of this attitude, that it can also be fruithful if it succeeds in making the discussions on Marxism more rigorous and in making a methodologically more rigorous scientific approach penetrate among its scholars. On the other hand, the almost total lack of familiarity, common to many Marxists, with the most modern instruments of logic is not a mystery; and it was precisely on this point that Nowak beat the emphasis more strongly. In fact, for him the need for scientificity, present within neopositivism, is precisely what the Marxists had to share, perhaps leaving out the more immediately philosophical aspects in favor of the methodological ones. In short, the Marxists, instead of rejecting positivist philosophy in its entirety, had to accept the need for scientificity to which Marxism should and could aim, provided, however, that they abandoned all the humanistic and anti-naturalistic interpretations typical of Western Marxists: Marxism should definitely reject its substantial solutions of positivism, but at the same time it should aim towards the same degree of precision and communicativeness that positivism achieved, although it should work from its own assumptions and construct its own language63.

Therefore, according to Nowak, it was a question of applying «this style of philosophizing which neopositivists had introduced for the first time and apply with so great mastery»64. In fact, as Francesco Barone wrote, the philosophy of science presented by the neopositivists «has the great merit of considering the actual historical and theoretical development of science and of being cultivated by men who carried out their cultural training in science»65. In any case, according to Nowak, the impossibility of reconciling Marxism with science was to be attributed not so much or only to the unfamiliarity that Marxists had with logic, but also to an incorrect understanding of the dialectical method itself. Having said this on the relationship between Marxism and positivism, let’s now move on to the Marxian idea of science that, according to Nowak, it is possible to reconstruct on the basis of Marx’ scientific works, such as Capital. Well, according to Nowak the Marxists did not develop Marxism scientifically precisely because of the fallacies we were talking about above, so it was a matter of moving from the era of “declarations” to the era of “reconstruction”66.

1.2. The Methodological Reconstruction of Das Kapital

The central pivot of Nowak’s reflection on the Marxist idea of science, is based on the identification of the method of abstraction and gradual concretization present in the classics of Marxism. We have seen that the abstraction as conceived by Marx was nothing more than the equivalent of what Nowak calls idealization, to distinguish empirically understood abstraction from Marxist abstraction. Having already described the difference Nowak makes between abstraction and idealization, let us limit ourselves in this part of our work to the analysis of Nowak’s methodological reconstruction of Marx’ Das Kapital.

Nowak, in undertaking this confrontation with Marx’ thought, does not limit himself to a simple epistemological reading of his theories, in an attempt to give them respectability by translating them into a technically more rigorous language. This operation has also had an incisive impact on the epistemological conceptions of the Poznan School that had been elaborated up to that moment: it is in fact thanks to this comparison that the idealizational conception of science is completed with the key-notion of concretization. The importance that the Marxian procedure had for the Poznań School emerges in all its evidence from the reading of this Marxian quotation, where the methodology applied by Marx’ Kapital is quite clear:

The fact that capitals employing unequal amounts of living labour produce unequal amounts of surplus value, presupposes at least to a certain extent that the degree of exploitation or the rate of surplus value are the same, or that any existing differences in them are equalised by real or imaginary (conventional) grounds of compensation. This would assume competition among labourers and equalisation through their continual migration from one sphere of production to another. Such a general rate of surplus value — viewed as a tendency, like all other economic laws — has been assumed by us for the sake of theoretical simplification. But in reality it is an actual premiss of the capitalist mode of production, although it is more or less obstructed by practical frictions causing more or less considerable local differences, such as the settlement laws for farm labourers in Britain. But in theory it is assumed that the laws of capitalist mode of production operate in their pure form. In reality there exists only approximation; but, this approximation is the greater, the more developed the capitalist mode of production and the less it is adulterated and amalgamated with survivals of former economic conditions67.


1 Among these we mention first of all the problem represented by the Polish language, little known and consequently little translated; another barrier is the excessive dose of formalism of the works of Polish philosophers, which makes the reading of their works very difficult for those who are not familiar with logic. Finally, what Gereon Wolters has called “globalized parochialism” should not be overlooked, as he has also given the example of Polish philosophy and the Poznań School, which is the subject of this study: «[...] I would like to mention the Polish philosopher Leszek Nowak (1943-2009), who has launched the contemporary debate on idealization and has greatly contributed to it. He is nonetheless, rarely quoted, although a substantial part of his work is published in English: He just seems to have had the wrong address: University of Poznań», G. Wolters, European Humanities in Times of Globalized Parochialism, in «Bollettino della Società Filosofica Italiana», n. 208, 2013, p. 10.

2 See in this regard the important collective volume dedicated to the legacy of Ajdukiewicz: V. Sinisi-J. Woleński (eds.), The Heritage of K. Ajdukiewicz, (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 40), Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta, 1995.

3 On Łukasiewicz, Kotarbiński and Czeżowski see: F. Coniglione, Kotarbiński’s Reism and the Vienna Circle, in «Axiomathes», n. 1-3, 2000, pp. 37-69; Id., Creativity in Science in the Lvov-Warsaw School: Twardowski, Łukasiewicz and Czeżowski, in F. Coniglione-J. Brzeziński-T. Marek, Science: between algorithm and creativity, Eburon, Delft, Holland, pp. 111-132; Id., Filosofia e scienza in Jan Łukasiewicz, in «Epistemologia», vol 17, n.1, 1994, pp. 73-100; Id., Logica, scienza e filosofia in Tadeusz Czeżowski, in «Axiomathes» - 10 Years, ed. by Roberto Poli, vol. VIII, nrs. 1-3 (1997), pp. 191-250; Id., Reism and Physicalism. Kotarbiński and the Vienna Circle in Winfried Loeffler & Edmund Runggaldier (hrsg.), Vielfalt und Konvergenz der Philosophie (Vortraege des 5. Kongresses der Oesterreichischen Gesellschaft fuer Philosophie, Teil 1. Schriftenreihe der Oesterreichischen Gesellschaft fuer Philosophie, Band 3), Hoelder-Pichler-Tempsky, Wien, 1999.

4 On the relevance of this “School” see J. Woleński, Logic and Philosophy in the Lvov-Warsaw School, Kluwer Academic Publisher, Dordrecht-Boston-London, 1989; see also the following essays of Francesco Coniglione: For the history of scientific philosophy. The Vienna Circle and the School of Leopoli-Warsaw, in G. Gembillo (ed.), Filosofia e scienza. Studi in onore di Girolamo Cotroneo, Rubettino, Soveria Mannelli, 2005, pp. 109-141; The Place of Polish Scientific Philosophy in the European Context, in «Polish Journal of Philosophy», vol. I, n. 1, 2007, pp. 7-27 and Scientific Philosophy and Marxism in Poland, in F. Coniglione-R. Poli-J. Woleński (eds.), Polish Scientific Philosophy: The Lvov-War- saw School (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 28), Rodopi, Atlanta, 1993, pp. 69-114. See also J. J. Jadacki, Warsaw: The Rise and the Decline of Modern Scientific Philosophy in the Capital city of Poland, in «Axiomathes», n. 2-3, 1994, pp. 225-241; K. Szaniawski (ed.), The Vienna Circe and the Lvov-Warsaw School, Kluwer Academic Publisher, Dordrecht-Boston-London, 1989; W. Krajewski (ed.), Polish Philosophers of Science and Nature in the 20th Century (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 74), Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta, 2000 and P. Śliwiński, Il ragionamento per analogia nella filosofia analitica polacca, Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, Rome, 1998. On the role that the School of Lvov-Warsaw played for the birth of scientific philosophy in Poland, see also the short article of M. Rieser, Philosophy in Poland: An Introduction, in «The Journal of Philosophy», vol. 57, n. 7, Polish Number. (Mar. 31, 1960), pp. 201-209.

5 The idealizational approach as conceived by Nowak, for example, has in fact found an outlet, in the form of special variants, in Patryas for what concerns the asserts ceteris paribus, in J. Brzeziński for the elaboration of the procedures of proto-idealization, in Chwalisz for those of stabilization, etc.: see W. Patryas, Eksperyment a idealizacja (Experiment and idealization), PWN, Warsaw-Poznań, 1976; J. Brzeziński, Metodologiczne i psychologiczne wyznaczniki procesu badawczego w psychologii (Psychological and methodological determinants of the process of research in psychology), WUP, Poznań, 1978; P. Chwalisz, Stałe w idealizacyjnej koncepcji nauki (Constants in the idealised conception of science), in A. Klawiter-L. Nowak (eds.), Odkrycie, abstrakcja, prawda, empiria, historia a idealizacja (Discovery, abstraction, truth, empiricism, history versus idealization), Warsaw-Poznań, 1979, pp. 99-104.

6 F. Coniglione, Nel segno della scienza. La filosofia polacca del Novecento, Franco Angeli, Milano, 1996, p. 90.

7 M. Rieser, Polish Philosophy Today, in «Journal of the History of Ideas», vol. 24, n. 3. (Jul.-Sep., 1963), p. 423.

8 F. Coniglione, Nel segno della scienza. La filosofia polacca del Novecento, p. 90.

9 F. Coniglione, Realtà e astrazione. Scuola polacca ed epistemologia post-positivistica, Bonanno, Acireale-Roma, 20102, p. 48.

10 J. Łukasiewicz, Creative Elements in Science, in Id., Selected Works, edited by L. Borrowski, North Holland Publishing Company, Amsterdam-London, 1970, p. 9.

11 F. Coniglione, Realtà e astrazione, p. 50.

12 F. Coniglione, Leszek Nowak e la Scuola di Poznań. Introduction to L. Nowak, Oltre Marx. Per un materialismo storico non-marxiano, transl. by F. Coniglione, Armando Editore, Roma, 1987, pp. 14-15.

13 On this topic see the reconstruction made by F. Coniglione, Scientific Philosophy and Marxism in Poland, in F. Coniglione-R. Poli-J. Woleński (eds.), The Polish Scientific Philosophy: The Lvov-Warsaw School, Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta 1993, pp. 67-112; Id., La lotta per la conquista del pensiero: marxismo e filosofia nella Polonia comunista, in «PL.IT - Argomenti polacchi», 2008, pp. 702-747.

14 L. Nowak, On the Hidden Unity of Social and Natural Sciences, in K. Brzechczyn-K. Paprzycka (eds.), Thinking about Provincialism in Thinking (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 100), Rodopi, Amsterdam-New York, 2012, p. 45.

15 F. Coniglione-R. Poli, Introduction to Id., (eds.), La realtà modellata, Franco Angeli, Milano, 2004, p. 12.

16 F. Coniglione, Realtà e astrazione, p. 168.

17 See A. Wiegner, Observation, Hypothesis, Introspection (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 87), edited by I. Nowakowa, Rodopi, Amsterdam-New York, 2005.

18 P. Duhem, La thèorie physique. Son object et sa structure, Chevalier et Rivière, Paris, 1906, p. 301.

19 W. V. Quine, Two Dogmas of Empiricism, in «The Philosophical Review», vol. 60, n. 1, 1951, pp. 20-43.

20 I. Nowakowa, Adam Wiegner-Non Standard Empiricism, in W. Krajewski (ed.), Polish Philosophers of Science and Nature in the 20° Century (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 74), Rodopi, Amsterdam-New York, 2001, pp. 79-87.

21 A. Klawiter, personal communication.

22 See L. Nowak, Byt i myśl: U podstaw negatywistycznej metafizyki unitarnej (Being and thinking. The foundations of unitarian negativistic metaphysics), vol. I: Nicość i istnienie (Nothing and existence), Zysk I S-Ka, Poznań, 1998; Id., Byt i myśl: U podstaw negatywistycznej metafizyki unitarnej (Being and thought. The foundations of unitarian negativistic metaphysics), vol. II: Wieczność i zmiana (Eternity and change), Zyzk i S-Ka, Poznań, 2004; Id., Byt i myśl: U podstaw negatywistycznej metafizyki unitarnej (Being and thought. The foundations of unitarian negativistic metaphysics), vol. III: Enigma i rzeczywistości (Enigma and reality), Zysk i S-Ka, Poznań, 2007; Id., Byt i myśl. Przyczynek do metafizyki unitarnej (Being and thought. Contributing to unitarian metaphysics), in «Studia Filozoficzne», 1989, n. 1, pp. 1-18 and Id., Thoughts Are Facts of Possible Worlds. Truths Are Facts of a Given World, in «Dialectica», vol. 45, n. 4, 1991, pp. 273-287. Some scholars of the University of Poznań (as well as students of L. Nowak) who are currently studying unitarian metaphysics are Piotr Przybysz and Krzysztof Kiedrowski.

23 See the complete list of Nowak’s writings in appendix to the second edition of Realtà e astrazione: G. Borbone, Elenco completo degli scritti di Leszek Nowak (1963-2009), in F. Coniglione, Realtà e astrazione. Scuola polacca ed epistemologia post-positivistica, pp. 392-417.

24 Let us specify how Jerzy Topolski in 1963 published his fundamental Metodologia historii, a work in which both the fruits of his collaboration with Malewski and many of the typical themes of the Poznań School converge, even if they are centred on the historiographic side. See J. Topolski, Metodologia historii. Widanie drugie poprawione i uzupełnione, Warsawa, PWN, 1963. See the review by L. Nowak, Jerzy Topolski's Methodological Model of History, in «Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities», vol. 5, n. 1-4, 1979, pp. 257-268. Also, by Topolski, see the following books and essays: Conditions of Truth of Historical Narratives, in «History and Theory», vol. 20, n. 1. (Feb. 1981), pp. 47-60; Historical Narratives, in «History and Theory», vol. 27, no. 4, Beiheft 26: The Representation of Historical Events. (Dec. 1987), pp. 75-86; Levi-Strauss and Marx on History, in «History and Theory», vol. 12, no. 2. (1973), pp. 192-207; Towards an Integrated Model of Historical Explanation, in «History and Theory», vol. 30, no. 3. (Oct, (Oct., 1991), pp. 324-338; Rational and Explanation in History, in «Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities», vol. 1, no. 1, 1975, pp. 18-21; On the Class Approach to History, in «Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities», vol. 3, nn. 1-4, 1977; The Basic Problems of the Methodology of History, in «Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities», vol. 5, cit, pp. 1-18 and J. Topolski (ed.), Narration and Explanation. Contribution to the Methodology of the Historical Research (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 19), Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta, 1990. Very interesting is the volume of Poznań Studies dedicated precisely to the relationship between idealization and history: cf. K. Brzechczyn (ed.), Idealization XIII: Modeling in History (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 97), Rodopi, Amsterdam-New York, 2007.

25 See Vv. Aa., Założenia metodologiczne “Kapitału” Marksa (The Methodological Assumptions of Marx’ Kapital), KiW, Warszawa, 1970.

26 K. Szaniawski, Philosophy of Science in Poland, in W. Krajewski (ed.), Polish Philosophers of Science and Nature in the 20° Century, p. 261.

27 However, as Nowak himself later acknowledged, this point of view turned out to be quite fallacious, given the inadequacy of a mere reconstruction of the Marxist methodology. In fact, according to Nowak himself, it was necessary, in addition to such an epistemological operation, to find the errors and fallacies present in Marx’ social theory. In short, it was a matter of being Marxists against Marx. On this aspect, see my essay entitled Marx contro Marx: Leszek Nowak e il materialismo storico non-marxiano, in G. Solano-F. Sozzi (eds.), I maestri delle scienze sociali, Limina Mentis Editrice, Villasanta, 2012, pp. 195-222.

28 See J. Kmita, Z metodologicznych problemów interpretacji humanistycznej (Elements of Marxist Methodology in Human Sciences), PWN, Warszawa, 1971. See also Humanistic Interpretation, in «Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities», vol. 1, n. 1, 1975, pp. 3-8 and Meaning and Functional Reason, in «Revolutionary World», vol. 14, 1975, pp. 57-70. Very important is also the following volume on Kmita: cfr. A. Zeidler-Janiszewska (ed.), Epistemology and History: Humanities as a Philosophical Problem and Jerzy Kmita’s Approach to it (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 47), Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta, 1996.

29 See J. Kmita, Problems in Historical Epistemology, Reidel, Dordrecht-Boston-Lancaster-Tokyo, 1988.

30 J. Kmita, Elementy marksistowskiej metodologii humanistiki, Wyd. Poznańskie, Warszawa-Poznań, 1973.

31 F. Coniglione, Realtà e astrazione, pp. 173-174.

32 Ibid., pp. 175-176.

33 F. Coniglione, Nel segno della scienza, pp. 302-303.

34 On non-Marxian Historical Materialism see: L. Nowak, Power and Civil Society. Towards a Dynamic Theory of Real Socialism, Greenwood Press, New York, 1991; Id., U podstaw teorii socjalizmu, vol. 1, Własnosc i władza; vol. 2, Droga do socjalizmu; vol. 3, Dynamika władzy, Nakom, Poznań, 1991. See also P. Buczkowski-A. Klawiter (eds.), Theories of Ideology and Ideology of Theories (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 9), Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1986; H. R. Alker Jr. (ed.), Dialectical Logics for the Political Sciences (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 7), Rodopi, Amster- dam, 1982; J. Risert (ed.), Models and Concepts of Ideology (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 20), Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta, 1990; J. Frentzel-Zagórska (ed.), From One-Party State to Democracy: Transition in Eastern Europe, (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 32), Amsterdam-Atlanta, 1993; L. Nowak-M. Paprzycki (eds.), Social System, Rationality and Revolution, (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 33), Amsterdam-Atlanta, 1993; A. Siegel (ed.), The Totalitarian Paradigm after the End of Communism. Towards a Theoretical Reassessment, (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 65), Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta, 1998; P. Panasiuk-L. Nowak (eds.), Marx’s Theories today, (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 60), Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta, 1998 e M. Krygier (ed.), Marxism and Communism: Posthumous Reflections on Politics, Society and Law, (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 36), Amsterdam-Atlanta, 1994.

35 K. Marx, Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), in K. Marx-F. Engels, Collected Works, vol. 29, Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1987, p. 263.

36 This scheme is taken from L. Nowak, Historical Momentums and Historical Epochs. An Attempt at a Non-Marxian Historical Materialism, in «Analyse und Kritik», vol. 1, 1979, p. 61.

37 Nowak, in fact, explains why he continues to consider himself as a marxist: «First, historical materialism as proposed here assumes that Marxian methodology and the Marxian dialectics. […] Second, the theoretical conception outlined here employs the Marxian conceptual apparatus», L. Nowak, Property and Power. Towards a Non-Marxian Historical Materialism, Reidel, Dordrecht-Boston-Lancaster, 1983, p. 61.

38 The concept of essential structure will be explained later about the idealisation methodology. We specify that it is based on the individuation of the factors that influence in different measure a given size F and that therefore are necessary for its explanation; such a set is then ordered, on the basis of the capacity that its elements have to influence the size F, in what Nowak calls “space of the essential magnitudes” for F. Once built such “space”, which is composed of k +1 elements: H... pk,..., p 1, where H is the main factor for F and the others are gradually less essential, we proceed to the formulation of its essential structure.

39 A model of nomological interpretation Nowak finds it in the economist O. Lange, according to whom «the structure of a socio-economic formation is determined by two laws: the law of a necessary agreement between production relations and the nature of productive forces, and the law of a necessary agreement between the superstructure and the base; these laws determine the conditions of ‘the inner harmony, the internal balance of social formations’», L. Nowak, Property and Power, p. 29.

40 For the sake of clarity, as in the series of models that goes from the most abstract to the most concrete, the last model should not be understood as describing the whole of reality; in fact, it approximates to reality but does not exhaust it in its totality.

41 In quite recent times, the philosopher and pupil of Nowak K. Brzechczyn is paying attention to this aspect, namely the radicalization and generalization of historical materialism, with attempts to apply it to Eastern socialist societies. See K. Brzechczyn, Polish Discussion on the Nature of Communism and Mechanisms of its Collapse, in «East European Politics and Societies», vol. XX, n. X, 2008, pp. 1-28 and Id., On the Application of Non-Marxian Historical Materialism to the Development of Non-European Societies, in J. Brzeziński et al. (eds.), The Courage of Doing Philosophy. Essays Presented to Leszek Nowak, Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta, 2007, pp. 235-254.

42 F. Coniglione, Leszek Nowak e la Scuola di Poznań. Introduzione a L. Nowak, Oltre Marx. Per un materialismo storico non-marxiano, transl. by F. Coniglione, Armando Editore, Roma, 1987, p. 20

43 A. Klawiter-K. Łastowski, Introduction: Originality, Courage and Responsibility, in J. Brzeziński-A. Klawiter et al. (eds.), The Courage of Doing Philosophy: Essays Presented to Leszek Nowak, Rodopi, Amsterdam-New York, 2007, p. 19.

44 P. Przybysz, What does to Be Mean in Leszek Nowak’s Conception of Unitarian Metaphysics?, in J. Brzeziński-A. Klawiter et al. (eds.), The Courage of Doing Philosophy: Essays Presented to Leszek Nowak, pp. 315-316.

45 See L. Nowak, Byt i myśl, vol. I, p. 111.

46 L. Nowak, Byt i myśl, vol. I, p. 131.

47 See L. Nowak-I. Nowakowa, Idealization X: The Richness of Idealization (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 69), Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta, 2000, pp. 431-435.

48 K. Paprzycka, Idealization in Unitarian Metaphysics, in «Axiomathes», nn. 1-3, 2000, p. 9.

49 R. Poli, Formal and Ontological Roundabouts, in J. Brzeziński et al. (eds.), The Courage of Doing Philosophy: Essays Presented to Leszek Nowak, p. 326.

50 K. Paprzycka, Idealization in Unitarian Metaphysics, p. 9.

51 L. Nowak, Byt i myśl, vol. I, p. 248-249.

52 Ibid., pp. 250-251.

53 See P. Przybysz , What does to Be Mean in Unitarian Metaphysics, p. 319.

54 An attempt to present its contents in a more synthetic and less difficult way is made by one of the youngest members of the school in Poznan, Krzysztof Kiedrowski: see K. Kiedrowski, Zarys negatywistycznej metafizyki unitarnej, Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, Poznań, 2010 and Id., Metodologiczne podstawy negatywistycznej metafizyki unitarnej Leszka Nowaka, Uniw. Im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu, Poznań, 2013.

55 R. Poli, Formal and Ontological Roundabouts, in J. Brzeziński et al. (eds.), The Courage of Doing Philosophy: Essays Presented to Leszek Nowak, p. 326.

56 Ibid., p. 332.

57 Ibid., p. 334.

58 J. Woleński, Metalogic and Ontology, in J. Brzeziński et al. (eds.), The Courage of Doing Philosophy: Essays Presented to Leszek Nowak, p. 350.

59 Ibidem.

60 Ibid., p. 351.

61 See L. Althusser, Pour Marx, Éditions François Maspero, Paris, 1965.

62 Scienza, marxismo e socialismo reale. Colloquio con Leszek Nowak, Appendix to L. Nowak, Oltre Marx, pp. 274-275.

63 L. Nowak, Marxism vs. Positivism, in «Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities», vol. 1, n. 2, 1975, p. 89.

64 L. Nowak, The Structure of Idealization, Reidel, Dordrecht, 1980, p. 54.

65 F. Barone, Il neopositivismo logico, vol. I, Laterza, Bari, 1986, p. 9.

66 On the Nowak’s methodological reconstruction of Marx’ work, in addition to the essays that will be used later, see also L. Nowak, On some Interpretations of the Marxist Methodology, in «Journal for General Philosophy of Science», vol. 7, n. 1, march 1976, pp. 141-183 and L. Nowak, On the Structure of Marxists Dialectics, in «Erkenntnis», vol. 11, n. 1, January 1977, pp. 341-363. It is noteworthy that Steinvorth, already in 1979, interpreted the theoretical construction present in Capital in an idealizational way, referring, however, to an essay by Nowak dedicated precisely to the difference that exists between Marxist abstraction and the ideal-type Weberian see: U. Steinvorth, Modellkonstruktion und empirische Überprüfbarkeit in Marx “Kapital”, in «Analyse & Kritik», vol. 2, 1979, pp. 164-181. The essay Steinvorth refers to is L. Nowak, Weber’s Ideal Types and Marx’s Abstraction, in «Neue Hefte für Philosophie», vol. 13, 1978, pp. 81-91.

67 K. Marx, Capital, Book III, in K. Marx-F. Engels, Collected Works, vol. 37, Lawrence and Wishart, New York, 1988, p. 174. Italics mine.

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The Relevance of Models. Idealization and Concretization in Leszek Nowak
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