Schaff, Adam

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SCHAFF, ADAM (1913– ), Polish philosopher of Jewish origin; the dominant figure in Marxist philosophy in Poland from the assumption of power by the Communist government in 1945. Born in Lvov, he studied in the Soviet Union. He returned to become professor of philosophy at the Warsaw University and director of the Institute of Philosophy at the Polish Academy of Science. At first of orthodox views, he nevertheless engaged in active and mutually respectful debate and development with the eminent Polish school of logic and epistemology (Ajdukiewicz, Kotarbinski, Ingarden, among others), and later also with Marxists influenced by existentialist and other non-Marxist philosophical thought (the most important being Kolakowski). Schaff wrote many works, from initial studies in the theory of truth to later works on semantics, on the nature of historical explanation, on the role of language in cognition, on ethics in private and in social life, and on the still uncompleted tasks of Marxist philosophy, for which his chief work is Marksyzm i jednostka ludzka (1965; Marxism and the Human Individual, 1970). Other books appearing in English are Alienation as a Social Phenomenon, Language and Cognition, and History and Truth. Schaff had wide influence within the eastern European countries, and also among American and western European thinkers on sociological and philosophical matters, perhaps most practically through work with unesco. During the period of active pressure against Jews in Poland in 1968, Schaff's official positions in the Polish university and academy hierarchy were greatly reduced in scope and authority, and he ceased to be a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Poland. However, through all the upheavals in Poland he managed to maintain his status as an influential thinker.

[Robert S. Cohen]

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Schaff, Adam

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