Leszek Kolakowski Dies

A modern philosopher who has never once suspected himself of being a charlatan must be such a shallow mind that his work is probably not worth reading.”

— Kolakowski

Leszek Kołakowski (October 23, 1927 – July 17, 2009) was a Polish philosopher and historian of ideas. He was best known for his critical analyses of Marxist thought, especially his acclaimed three-volume history, Main Currents of Marxism, considered by some to be one of the most important books on political theory of the 20th century.

In a long and wide-ranging career, Mr. Kolakowski most famously dissected the intellectual underpinnings of the Communist system he had supported as a young man, at the height of the cold war’s ideological and military arms race. He was an academic whose influence reached far beyond the academy’s gates and a scholar whose writings could be playful and satirical, but most of all, accessible.