Sunday, September 20, 2020

Modern philosophy and the scholastics

For many years I was intrigued by the thought of Edith Stein. Of course one reason for the curiosity was her conversion from Judaism to Christianity in the times when Jewish thought flourished (take Martin Buber's thought as only one example), the second was her decision to leave her Jewish family and become Catholic nun in a very strict, contemplative order. 
But it was still the most mysterious to me how she, coming from the school of Edmund Husserl, evolved into a domain of neo-scholastics...
To understand this, I started to read her "Finite and Eternal Being"...

From the outset, I was so deeply intrigued by this book, that I decided not to comment on it, but rather to collect the thoughts and ideas I found interesting. So, this post is a collection of quotes from Edith - quotes I collected while reading it. I found it intellectually more honest than trying to comment on something I still need to understand better than I do now....

To begin, let's see her own, deeply honest admission, made in the introduction to the book:

"This (...) seems especially appropriate in the case of the author of this book: Her philosophical home is the school of Edmund Husserl, and her philosophic mother tongue is the language of the phenomenological thinkers. She therefore uses phenomenology as a starting point to find her way into the majestic temple of scholastic thought."

I'm excited to discover how does she go along that path ...

First discovery is ... of the amazing clarity and objectivity Stein approaches philosophy with a deliberate distancing from faith and religion. The rigor she is applying to that distinction, comes, from St. Thomas Aquinas himself, and from many of thinkers of the "thomistic" tradition, like Jacques Maritain.

When writing about the goals and functions of philosophy she says:

"It is one of the function of philosophy to elucidate the fundamental principles of all the sciences"
However, when she goes into the relation between philosophy and a religious doctrine, she remarks:

« Whatever derives from the synthesis of theological and philosophic truth bears the imprint of this dual source of knowledge, and faith, as we are told, is a "dark light". Faith helps us to understand something, but only in order to point to something that remains for us incomprehensible. Since the ultimate ground of all existence is unfathomable, everything which is seen in this ultimate perspective moves into that "dark light" of faith, and everything intelligible is placed in a setting with an incomprehensible background. That is what Erich Przywara means when he speaks of a reductio ad mysterium.»
The intro, and its chapter "Is there a Christian Philosophy" is an amazing proof of the author intellectual honesty. Now, to the essence ...

In "Act and Potency as Modes of Being"  Stein writes:

«My own being, as I know it and as I know myself in it, is null and void [nichtig]; I am not by myself (not a being a se and per se), and by myself I am nothing; at every moment I find myself face to face with nothingness, and from moment to moment I must be endowed and re-endowed with being. And yet this empty existence that I am is being, and at every moment I am in touch with the fullness of being. »
and later adds:

«Existential anxiety accompanies the unredeemed human being throughout life and in many disguises -- as fear of this or that particular thing or being. In the last analysis, however, this anxiety or dread is the fear of being no more, and it is thus the experience of anxiety which "brings people face to face with nothingness." »

In "Individual and Universal Nature":

«As a matter of fact, that which is the ultimate ground of all intelligibility also makes possible all linguistic understanding and all linguistic communication. We therefore now conclude that all names are actually and ultimately expressions of essences.»

In §10, "Universals":    

«The knowing mind is an individual actuality; the thing known, on the other hand, can as such by its being known never become such an individual actuality. It merely becomes something that is encompassed by the mind, something pertaining to the mind. The mind encompasses it and possesses it as transcendent. The thing known is not "mine" in the same sense as is the knowing. My knowledge is mine exclusively: It cannot simultaneously be the knowledge of another human being. But what I know—and this means not only the object of knowledge but also the known according to the manner in which it is known (e.g., in a specific conceptual formulation) can also be known by others. My knowing it does not withdraw it from any other person's knowledge.»

«Every human being possesses his or her own "conceptual world" which may coincide more or less not only with the real world but also with the world of ideal concepts and with the conceptual worlds of other human beings.

Because the known nature quid is the identical element that we find in a multiplicity of individuations, we are able to attribute to it the meaning of universality. For the same reason it is possible to pay no heed to the conditions of its individuation; this paying no heed  is implicit in the meaning of universality and is called abstraction.

The known nature quid is as such neither universal nor individual. It cannot be duplicated in the realm of essential being - and this it has in common with the individual. But it is communicable and admits of individualizations and this distinguishes it from the individual. It cannot be duplicated in the realm of essential being — and this it has in common with the individual. But it is communicable and admits of individualizations — and this distinguishes it from the individual in the full sense of the term and makes it possible to ascribe universality to it. 

These last observations show clearly that our own answer to the problem of universals goes somewhat beyond the position of moderate realism without, however, going as far as Platonic realism (in the traditional interpretation). We do not ascribe to the essential quid any being in the manner of real things. It would seem that our own point of view is closest to that of Duns Scotus.»


In part IV. Essentia-Substance-Form and Matter

« This form-matter relationship, as described by Aristotle, became decisive for the understanding of the created universe and determined the entire thinking of the Middle Ages.»

« Thus for artists there exist archetypal forms or images (Urbilder] which they must seize and the being of which is independent and a precondition of their workmanship. Here we are dealing with pure forms, and they may make it possible for us to grasp the meaning of a form that is unrelated to a particular matter.»

«Being active or being operative is that highest degree of the being of that which is, to which the faculties or capabilities of existents are ordained.»
« In the mind of the artist the idea flashes, attracts the artist, leaves the artist no rest, urges the artist on to create. And in a similar manner an "attraction" seems to issue from that which stands above the living being as its end and perfection, an attraction which directs and guides the development of the living being. This attractive force may be felt not only in the mature human being, but from the time of the first awakening of reason. And the image of what the individual is to become may be grasped more or less distinctly and the individual's free acts may-in the striving for perfection and self-education-be informed accordingly. »

«However, that which is before and after is grounded in something deeper which determines the entire process of evolution and leads it toward the end. And this something we have called the essential form (Wesensform). In the essential form is alive that purposively directed power to which the actualized essence owes its existence if and whenever it corresponds to the end.»

« Both worlds (pure and essential forms), rather, in accordance with their origin, point to that same primordial reality that also accounts for and makes intelligible their interrelation. Comprised and incorporated in the unity of the divine logos, the pure forms are primordial prototypes of all things in the divine mind, which places them into existence and which has inscribed in them their end-structure [Zielgestalt]. 

In this sense we may then speak of the being of things in God, and St. Thomas calls this being in God a truer being than the one which things have in themselves. The causality of the eternal primordial archetypes is simply the creative, sustaining, and ordering efficacious action [Wirksamkeit] of God, and the actuality of these archetypes is the divine actuality or rather super-actuality.»

«...we should then have to regard the divine essence not merely as the mover of the universe as a whole, but as linked in a specific manner with every created thing and being. This point of view makes it necessary that there be a peculiarly strong and close interrelation between the archetypal and essential forms. Plato's and Aristotle's doctrines of form suffer, it seems to me, from the defect of Plato's laying undue stress on the archetypal form and of Aristotle's placing too much emphasis on the essential form.

And the reason for this deficiency in both instances I see in the fact that to both philosophers the idea of creation and its sequel, the divine sustenance and directive governance of the created universe, remained unknown.»

« Paradoxically enough, the determinateness of matter lies in its determinability.»

« And where we said before that the particularity of matter was basic [grundlegend] in the structure of the whole with respect to everything in which this particularity manifests and actively asserts itself, we must now say that what is ultimately basic is the form which forms matter »

« And finite existents lag behind the highest degree of being which they could potentially attain in still another respect. This second lagging behind is due to the status naturae lapsae (the state of fallen nature), i.e., the general corruption of all things in the fallen state. Thus, even the splendor of “gold has been dimmed." (Lamentations 4:1) There is henceforth a split or crack (Bruch] even in the determinateness of the essences of things. They are still a mirror of divine perfection, but the mirror is broken. There is a discrepancy between what things essentially ought to be and what they actually are. And there is, moreover, a disproportion between what things could essentially come to be and the state to which they can actually attain. »
« Every human work was meant to be not only useful (i.e., to serve human ends) but also beautiful (i.e., to be a mirror of the eternal). » 

« Linguistic metaphors often express an inner relationship that exists between different genera of existents as well as a relationship between finite existents and the divine archetypal reality. »

« We hold that even the lowest material structures are an inseparable unity of matter and form (a form that molds matter, or of formed matter, i.e., a matter that is determined in its particularity). These material structures would be nothing unless they were thus determined in their quid [Was]. Their very being would be annihilated. Their being is truly one, because this oneness is conditioned by form and matter. The primordial “efficacious ontological principle” [beurirkende Seinsgrund] which they owe their being is the divine creative act, and the being of this act differs from the being of every created thing.»
« It is my conviction that here (MS: in an awakening of life) we find ourselves face to face with the greatest of all mysteries and miracles of life. The mere fact that things which are alive cannot come from things which are dead, but only from that which is itself alive, and that life defies all to “produce" it artificially or synthetically—this fact alone is enough to arouse our awe. But what makes us see in life the mysterious revelation of the Lord of all life is the much more significant fact that all those "devices" of animate nature which aim at life do not actually produce it. They merely prepare for it and make it possible for it in each individual instance to spring, as it were, from a hidden primordial source. »

« ... there is in living beings a manifold of material elements held together, permeated, and molded into an organic whole by a superior, living form-a whole which is proportioned in accordance with the structural law of that superior form. The superiority of the form over the matter manifests itself in the preservation and evolution of the identical structural whole in the continuous process of “material change" (Stoffwechsel = metabolism).

The being of the form is life, and life is the forming of matter in the three stages of: transformation of the structural material elements, self-formation, and reproduction.»

« The specific being of living beings is distinct from both body and mind (spirit) by virtue of the fact that living beings must first acquire possession of their essence or nature. That which is alive [das Lebendige] is distinguished from purely material natures because it has a "center" of its own being, i.e., a soul or what we may call a "be-souling principle" (if we want to reserve the term soul for that personal soul which does not make its appearance until we arrive at the individuals and personally formed human totality) »

« The soul comes out of nothingness and yet bears within itself the power for being: "This is why its nature is in a peculiar manner 'unfathomable' (in the sense of being a bottomless abyss) and "creative." According to its own ontological ground, the soul is placed in “nothingness," and yet, out of this same soul, the entire substance draws its being and its selfhood." »

« The particular nature of the soul also suggests a possibility of harmonizing the contraries of matter and mind (spirit) with the previously discussed trichotomy of body, soul, and mind (spirit). The confrontation of matter in the sense of that which fills space) and mind (spirit) reveals an ultimate contrast with regard to content between two different realms of actuality. »


In part V. Existents As Such (The Transcendentals)

«And finally, are only material [dinglich] realities independent, autonomous existents or must independent, autonomous existence also be attributed to ideal objects»

 « ens, res, unum, aliquid, bonum, verum, pulchrum »

« With this latter observation (ms: of form) we believe we have grasped the real distinction between form and content (or fullness). The two belong together. Wherever we get hold of a content, we seize it together with its form. A "content" can neither be nor be intellectually conceived without some form, even if it is a form of the most general kind. The form is, as it were, the contour of the content and thus pertains to the content in the manner in which the encompassing spatial structure pertains to a material thing. The forms can be intellectually abstracted and conceptually grasped, but they have that peculiar emptiness and poverty which characterizes them forms.

Every existent is fullness within some form. To examine and describe the forms of existents is the task of that discipline which Husserl called formal ontology. »

 «... there is still another "emptiness," one that is indicative of a separation from a factual (sachlich] foundation. When I speak of "some or any object," these expressions admit of a factual understanding. What is meant finds its fulfillment in the empty form of the aliquid. The expression "non-existent object," on the other hand, admits of no fulfillment. It corresponds to empty thought.» 

 « We have previously pointed out in a different context that every existent has a meaning [Sinn] or - in scholastic terminology that every existent is intelligible, i.e., something which can "enter into" a knowing intellect and can be "embraced" or "comprehended"[umgefassen] by a knowing intellect. It seems to me that this describes the nature of  transcendental truth. The terms intelligere, "enter into," and "comprehend" express a  mutual being-ordained [Zuordnung) of intellect and existent. »

 « This is why the artist, who penetrates through the purely external and factual to the primordial archetype (Urbild), can present more of the truth than the historian who remains within the limited circumference of external data. The work of the artist who succeeds in depicting the true Urbild and at the same time remaining within the bounds of tradition will be truer even in the sense of historical truth than the work of a historian who does not penetrate beyond the surface of external facts.»

 In part V, §13 "Divine Truth"

« We are here face to face with a matter-of-factness the reasons or causes of which we are unable to penetrate.  And such an ultimate, impenetrable fact is for us the differentiation between necessity and contingency which we find even in the realm of essential being. 

It seems to me that it indeed transcends the possibilities of natural reason to demonstrate that the cause of this differentiation lies in the divine essence. Even the attempt to harmonize the simplicity of the divine being with the manifold of the ideas bears the marks of a reason illumined by faith, a reason which impelled by the words of revealed truth seeks to grasp mysteries which defy and confound all human concepts.»

In part V,  §19, "Beauty as a transcendental determination"

« The beautiful indeed implies a relationship of a peculiar kind. It is distinct from truth (understood as an accord of knowledge and existence), and it is distinct from goodness (understood as an accord of striving and existence), and yet it has something in common with both. 

Like truth, beauty signifies that something is known [ein Erkanntes] in a large sense of knowing, and this something causes satisfaction when seen (visa placent). Thus, in contradistinction to the known truth, the something is not only known, but pleases (visa placent). And this pleasing means for the spirit a resting in the attainment of the end, as it is similarly experienced in the fulfillment of a striving. In this respect, then, goodness and beauty coincide. »

« An existent is perfect when it is wholly what it ought to be, when nothing is wanting to it, and when it has attained to the highest measure of its being. This perfection denotes the congruity of the existent with the divine idea which is its archetype (Urbild], (Wesen-swahrheit, essential truth), and simultaneously with the divine will (We sensgutheit, essential goodness). Whatever is perfect is true, good, and beautiful. »

« We meet this splendor in the world of sense in the radiance of physical light, without which all sensuous beauty would remain hidden from us. We meet it in the radiance of color and in the loveliness of physical forms and bodies.
But this splendor is by no means confined to the world of sense. There is spiritual beauty. There is the beauty of the human soul, whose "ways and actions are duly measured and ordered in accordance with the intellectual clarity of reason." The closer a created being is to the divine Urbild, the more perfect it is. This is why intellectual and spiritual beauty range above sensuous beauty. And because the human soul by divine grace is drawn near to the divine being in an entirely new sense, the splendor which grace pours out over a human soul surpasses all purely natural brightness and harmony.


Part VI. "The Meaning of Being"

« When we conceive of an essence [Wesenheit] or of a meaningful structure [Sinngebilde] as fulfillment of the something, the corresponding being is essential being. This latter we understood as the unmoved (non-temporal) unfolding of that which is contained in the unity of the meaning. In the case of simple essences, this unfolding is a simple being-spread-out [Hingebreitetsein] and thus a being manifest [Offenbarsein] to the understanding gaze of the spirit which comes to rest in the understanding. »

«A special difficulty is presented by the concept of “nothingness" or of the nought [das Nichts), which seems to have an intelligible meaning but which is not an essence. It not only has no full meaning, but not even an empty meaning in the sense of an empty form that could be filled—as in the case of the something. In the nought we have an empty meaning that cannot be filled, and it thereby reveals its “essence-less nature" [Wesenlosigkeit]. This is why non-being pertains to the nought rather than being, and everything that can be predicated of it is in the nature of a negation.»


«Being, as the unfolding of a quid, denotes not only the effluence and confluence of the contents of this quid, but simultaneously the quid's being manifest (or becoming manifest [Offenbarwerden]) or its being intelligible for some knowing mind. (All being as such is true being). 

Furthermore, being, as the unfolding of a quid, means that being occupies its apportioned place within the totality of all existents and thereby contributes to the perfection of this totality. (All being as such is good being.) Finally, it means that being is ordered according to a definite structural law and is thereby in accord with an ordering mind whose knowing is correspondingly or proportionately ordered. (All being as such is beautiful and rational [vernünftig] being).»

« But despite these prerogatives, the being of the I is deficient and by itself null and void (nichtig). It is empty unless it is filled with content, and it receives this content from those realms—the "external" and the "internal" world—which lie "beyond" its own sphere.

Its life comes out of one darkness and moves into another darkness. 

There are lacunae in it which cannot be filled, and it is sustained only from moment to moment. And thus we see that while the being of the I is separated from divine being by an infinite distance, it nevertheless owing to the fact that it is an I, i.e., a person-bears a closer resemblance to divine being than anything else that lies within the reach of our experience. If we remove from this being of the I everything that is non-being, this will make it possible for us to conceive-albeit only analogically-of divine being. »

Part VII. "The Image of Trinity in the created world"

§2 "Person and spirit [Geist]"

« On the other hand, where an existent is ruled by and behaves in accordance with an intelligible lawfulness which it yet cannot understand, we speak of a hidden or latent intellect. And we call a creature rational or endowed with an intellect [vernunftbegabt] when it can understand the lawfulness of its own being and can act accordingly. This requires ratio [Verstand), i.e., the gift of understanding, and liberum arbitrium [Freiheit], i.e., the gift of molding one's actions out of one's own self.

If then to being-person there pertains the gift of rationality or intelligence, the person as such must possess reason and freedom. And we thus arrive at the distinction between ego and person and are justified in saying that not every ego need be a personal ego. On the other hand, every person must be an ego. It must be inwardly aware of its own being, since this is implied in the gift of intelligence. »

§2 "The Human "Being-Person"

«The human soul as spirit rises in its spiritual life beyond itself. But the human spirit is conditioned both from above and from below. It is immersed in a material structure which it be-souls and molds into a bodily form. The human person carries and encloses "its" body and "its" soul, but it is at the same time carried and enclosed by both. The spiritual life [geistiges Leben) of the human person rises from a dark ground. It rises like a flame that illumines, but it is a flame that is nourished by non-luminous matter. And it emits light without being light through and through. The human spirit is visible to itself without, however, being thoroughly transparent. It is capable of illuminating other things without being able to penetrate completely into their being. We have already learned a few things about the darkness of the human spirit...»
« Whatever is bodily [leiblich] or of the body is never merely so. What distinguishes the body [Leib] from a mere physical body (corpus) is the fact that the body is be-souled. Where there is a body, there is also a soul. And conversely, where there is a soul, there is also a body. A physical body without a soul is nothing but a corpus [Körper) and no longer a living body [Leib]. A spiritual nature [Geist-wesen] without a corporeal body is a pure spirit, not a soul. Anyone who refuses to attribute a soul to plants should not speak of a plant body either. Rather, such a person will have to use a different name to distinguish these animate material structures from those which are inanimate or lifeless.»
And this passage is deeply personal (I think I know to what it relates, but I prefer not to say it explicitly):
« For example, it may happen that I believe I have "overcome” some painful experience, and I have long since forgotten it. But suddenly some new experience brings it back to my memory, and the impression which this earlier experience now makes upon me as well as the thoughts which it now evokes make me realize that it has been working within me all the time and that, moreover, without it I would not be what I am today.» 

Mirek @Słupsk & @Lodz (last update on July, 31st, 2021) 

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Trzy dni przed wyborami | Three days before the elections

Dziś jest 9 lipca 2020. Za trzy dni mamy drugą turę wyborów prezydenckich w Polsce. Jaka jest ich waga? Co jest w tym wyborze najważniejsze?

Z wielu, zapewne taktycznych powodów, to co najważniejsze nie jest zbyt mocno w tej kampanii uwypuklane. Być może tak miało być, być może najważniejsze sprawy nie interesują większości wyborców...

Nie chcę o tym pisać, nie chcę pisać o kompletnie wydumanych i zastępczych "ważnych" tematach w przekazie Andrzeja Dudy. Nie chcę udowadniać, że to, o czym mówi Rafał Trzaskowski jest ważne.

To, co w tej kampanii nie jest mocno dyskutowane to sama esencja demokracji w Polsce. Andrzej Duda przyłożył rękę do poważnego naruszenia jej podstaw - zasady trójpodziału władzy. Zaakceptował poddanie Trybunału Konstytucyjnego funkcjonariuszom PiS. Przyczynił się do zdemolowania Krajowej Rady Sądownictwa, do niewłaściwego wyboru prezesa Sądu Najwyższego w Polsce. Nie wspomnę już w wielu innych aktach tej władzy, jakich celem jest jedno: zakończenie w Polsce czasu Państwa Otwartego i Transparentnego. Zaakceptował niebotyczną pomoc dla Telewizji Publicznej, która od dawna jest skrajną tubą propagandową partii PiS, cyniczną do tego stopnia, że łagodne uwagi ze strony Rady Etyki Mediów kwituje jawnym kłamstwem, tak co do intencji Rady jak i swojej nieuczciwej działalności. Jest 100% pewności, że wybrany po raz drugi będzie kontynuował te działania. Nie ma co do tego żadnych wątpliwości.

Wiemy z historii zbyt dobrze, do czego to może doprowadzić. Z jednej strony do gigantycznych afer, jakich nigdy nie da się odsłonić (jak np. to co się stało z KNF albo z finansowaniem zakupów przez ministerstwo finansów czy też z niewyjaśnioną do dziś sprawą Skoków, "dwu wież" i wielu innych).

Ale i to nie jest nawet najgorsze w skali całego Państwa. Zdemolowane państwo, które nie szanuje zasady absolutnej niezależności filarów władz - kończy tam gdzie skończyły kiedyś w XX wieku Niemcy, Włochy czy Austria, albo, w najlepszym wypadku staje się atrapą demokracji jak Rosja za Putina, Węgry za Orbana, Turcja za Erdogana - aby już na tych tylko przykładach skończyć i nie iść za daleko.

Dla tych, którzy nigdy by nie wybierali Platformy Obywatelskiej w normalnych wyborach powiem tak - rozumiem Was i szanuję, ale pomimo to proszę - zastanówcie się nad tym, co jest "powyżej" polityki. I z tego powodu, nawet jeśli macie opór przed wyborem typu "mniejsze zło" - warto nawet z takiego motywu wybrać przeciwnika Andrzeja Dudy.

Stawka w tych wyborach jest najwyższa od wyborów z 1989 roku...


Today is July 9th, 2020. In three days we have the second round of presidential elections in Poland. What is their significance? What is the most important matter in this selection?

For many, probably tactical reasons, what is most important is not highlighted too much in the campaigns of the contenders. Perhaps it was supposed to be like that, maybe the most important issues are not of interest to most voters ...

I do not want to write about it, I do not want to write about completely invented and substitute "important" topics in the message of Andrzej Duda. I do not want to prove that what Rafał Trzaskowski is talking about is important.

What is not discussed in this campaign is the very essence of democracy in Poland. Andrzej Duda put his hand to a serious breach of its foundations – to the principle of the separation of powers. He accepted the submission of the Constitutional Tribunal to PiS officers. He contributed to the demolition of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), and to the faulty choice of the president of the Supreme Court in Poland. I will not mention in many other acts of the presidential power whose purpose was simple: to end the time of Open and Transparent State of Poland. He accepted the sky-high help for Public Television, which has long been nothing more but an extreme propaganda tube of the PiS party, so cynical that even mild remarks on the part of the Media Ethics Council were met with blatant lies, both about the Ethics Council's intentions and  public TV station dishonest activities. There is 100% certainty that in his second term he would continue these activities. There is no doubt about it.

We know from history too well where this can lead to. On the one hand, to gigantic scandals that can never be revealed (such as what happened to the Polish Financial Supervision Authority or the recent financing of medical purchases by the Ministry of Health or the unexplained case of “Skoki” Shadow Banks, "Two Towers" scandal in Warsaw and many others).

But this is not even the worst on the whole country scale. A demolished state that does not respect the principle of absolute independence of the pillars of government, ends where it once ended in the 20th century Germany, Italy or Austria, or, at best, becomes a dummy democracy like Russia under Putin, Hungary under Orban, or Turkey under Erdogan - to end here with such examples and not to go too far...

For those who would never choose the Civic Platform in normal elections I will say – yes, I understand your motives and respect you, but please - think about what is "above" the politics. And for this reason, even if you resist choosing the "lesser evil" – in this very elections choosing Andrzej Duda's opponent is a noble act despite the unwanted motive. 

The stakes in these elections are the highest since the 1989 when we broke with communism...

(The picture from:

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Republican voters against Trump

Polish right-wing president and his wife are surely not happy to be shown in a negative context in the Republicans Voters against Trump spot...
Particularly before the elections in Poland....


Saturday, May 23, 2020

The court is not a premise for rent by politicians

This is Google Translated text of the Supreme Court Judge and the Professor of Jagiellonian University Włodzimierz Wróbel.
The original text is here.

The court is not a premise to rent by politicians. Judge Wróbel's words vibrate like a remorse of those in power... 

My name is Włodzimierz Wróbel, I am a judge in the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court and at the same time I teach criminal law at the Jagiellonian University. We already know that we operate outside the mode, it also turned out today that this mode will end in nothing, which is why the chairman declared that he would not exercise the constitutional competence of the body in which we were and would not vote on the resolution on the performance (as the chairman said), the President of the Republic of Poland, candidates for the first president of the Supreme Court.

If this was a normal procedure in which such candidates were to be selected, then I would probably shudderly tell you about my vision of the Supreme Court, what should be changed, what should be improved, how should it work and probably would not be here in the room or cameras, nor would anyone be interested in it.

I will make this statement a little different. We think that here are the walls in this room, but this room has no walls. Thanks to the decision that we have media access, we have a transparent process, citizens are watching us. I know that my students are also watching me. During the pandemic, instead of normal lectures, we did talk about law and I know that now my seminarians - Andrzej, Kuba, Monika, Mikołaj - listen to this on Facebook. I invite you now to talk about what is happening here.

A tiny constitutional body, one tiny provision

We are in the hall where the general assembly of SN judges is taking place. It's a tiny constitutional body. One small constitution provision. He says that this assembly is to present the president with candidates for the post of head of the main court in this country. Of course, there are many such judgments, we can tell each other that everyone has their own powers, but we know the meaning of the Supreme Court. This is a key position. It can change any judgment of a practically different court.

The head of this court also has a huge position, regardless of how he can organize the work of the Supreme Court, let us remember that he is the head of the State Tribunal, the court that judges the authorities.

A tiny constitutional body, one tiny provision that says that this assembly is to present candidates. The creators of the constitution knew why this provision sounds this way.

Because they knew that every power, no matter what color it is, has a huge snatch to court, because the courts are the only independent, impartial institution that has this power to control. It is to defend the citizen against abuse of this power.

And it is known that there has always been and will be tension between political power and the courts, no matter who rules.

Those who wrote this constitution invented such a mechanism of mutual control, check and balance - say the English. Namely, judges cannot call their own bosses, they must present five candidates, and Mr. President cannot, according to the constitution, simply send to the Supreme Court whom he wants, a politician or a lawyer and make him the head of this institution. You have to get along. You have to communicate.

What is the agreement about? And the fact that the assembly is to present, today the law says, five candidates and from them the president is to choose one and appoint as the first president of the Supreme Court. A simple provision, the act repeats.

Why is this so important? Therefore, that the Supreme Court would not become another political prey, especially when there is increasing social and political tension, such a huge temptation exists to win more independent institutions, to free them, to make them dysfunctional.

Two sentences that shook the judge
So what is happening now, what are we dealing with now? There are two sentences that I am asking you - and I am talking to you, my seminarians, I am talking to you here, I am talking to everyone who listens to me - I was shocked by the two sentences I heard recently.

The first sentence of a prominent politician of the currently ruling party, but it could probably be that of any other politician. He said that in a moment the last bastion will fall, he thought about this event in which we participate, about the general assembly that is to choose the candidates for the first president. Of course, the whole Supreme Court was implicitly implied - this is where the last bastion will fall. But the sentence, which was even more shocking to me, is such a conversation, Mikołaj, remember, you once asked if it is worth being a judge in this country, is there sense? Do you have students, would you like to hear such a sentence from a law student, a young man?

Ladies and gentlemen, what is this gathering for, why are we sitting here, why are we arguing and arguing? That is why we want this bastion to remain as a bastion of justice, and not just become - I don't know - a place to rent by politicians, a caravan where everyone can sit and spend some time. Or in which you can give away elite jobs. That's what this constitutional fuse is for.

The second part of the lecture, the second part of our conversation. A recipe for how such institutions are taken over. This is a very important moment when it is worth talking to lawyers about the legal system, because these independent institutions, such as the court, what is supposed to protect citizens,

that the court was not yours or ours, I go back to that phrase non-stop, only to court was an independent state, no matter what political power in this country is governed.

There will always be tension and there are always ideas on how to appropriate independent institutions. Recipe? You know him very well. What is done first? First, a film is made, judges are turned into beasts, castes, communists, thieves, judges do not have the habit of speaking, they speak with judgments. This situation in which this media attack, a political attack, surprised many. They couldn't say much. Was the justice system functioning well? Sure not. Should that justice just be plowed and say that it doesn't make sense?

Ladies and gentlemen, nothing gives such great satisfaction as the opportunity to unleash authority in the mud. This is a great mechanism. This is the first element.

How is the independent state institution taken over? Procedures are invented, on which politicians mainly influence, political institutions such as the National Court Register are created, which are chosen by politicians themselves, a law is created so that the final decision is always made by a politician and lawyers are often sought, who are often with good will and good will with intention, and often without good will and good intention, they will enter this political plan.

Who will such a president be?
What happens next? We can still see it in this room. We are already beyond any procedure. There is a general assembly, there is a collegiate body, whether someone is being nominated politically who will be the head of this body, after all this is a presidential nomination, you can choose any person. And suddenly it turns out that this constitutional body is not the General Assembly, but the chairman of the proceedings, who decides everything, prejudges everything, says what the law looks like, issues ordinances on how we should discuss whether we will throw into the box or we can verbally ask anyone, we are out of mode.

Finally, it turns out that this procedure is also to end with nothing, it is to be torpedoed, in fact it does not come to what this procedure is to end.

So what happens next? Ladies and gentlemen, this question is the most difficult to answer. I could not explain to you, what I am saying to my seminarians. After all, it is known that nobody will trust such a court, which will be taken over by politicians. He will not be effective, he will not be able to settle disputes, because he will be our court, but not a joint court.

Who will be the president elected in such a procedure?

I do not know, we are still in a phase that has not ended, but from the chairman's statement to this wall, we are heading to this catastrophe, i.e. such an illegal procedure of presenting candidates to the president. Will the president call? I hope not, but maybe he will. And how will it end? Will I be the president of the Supreme Court whom no one will recognize or only a part will recognize? Will I the president of the Supreme Court, who will change any political change, this one, no one, today, tomorrow, in a month, in two years, in three years, in three years, and then another political power will sweep him out again.

We want the first president of the Supreme Court who, when he wonders where he can go abroad, will see only one neighboring country who will be able to accept him?

I don't know, I can't answer the question, what is all this for? Maybe you will be more implied here I am talking to my students.

And the third topic, what are the meetings for, what is really going on here and who is here? Lawyers are sitting in the room. Judges with many years of experience are sitting in the hall. There are academic lecturers and judges in the room who also have such academic experience. There are now citizens outside this room who the police have IDs for. We will leave this room and you judges will have to sit at the judge's table and look into the eyes of citizens who will wonder regardless of your intentions and regardless of your belief in independence, they will wonder whose court you are. And academic lecturers will have a much more difficult role, Professor, because you will have to stand in front of students and tell what happened here.

Mikołaj, don't give up, don't give up being a judge. Don't give up being a lawyer, because it's a profession where you have to fight for others. How? Fight for community, fight for the state.

Modern philosophy and the scholastics

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