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“Schopenhauer’s great merit is to have found that decisive thing: death, pain, the eternal war that each being must wage in order to survive.”

The lectures given from April 27 to May 25, 1969, centered around the following philosophers: Kant, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Sartre and Heidegger (existentialism), Marx, and Nietzsche.


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Illustration by Wojciech Kołyszko for the Polish edition published by Znak, Kraków, 1998.


The ’Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes’ is a personal reconstruction of the modern thinkers who gave life to the philosophy of our century as Gombrowicz saw them. The “philosophy courses” have a tone of recapitulation of his own thoughts and those of others. Or better: His own thought through others. There are also pages full of humor and brilliant intuition.
Francesco M. Cataluccio, preface to the French edition, Ed. Rivages, 1995 [Trans. Dubowski]
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Drawing by Witold Gombrowicz: His objective was to reconstruct a kind of “genealogy of existentialism” by imagining a “family tree” of philosophy, whose trunk is Kierkegaard.
Hegel is as necessary to Kierkegaard as he is to Marx. And you won’t be able to crack Hegel without the Critique of Pure Reason. This in turn derives a bit from Hume, Berkeley, and further back it would even be necessary to know Aristotle and maybe even a little Plato; even Descartes, the father of modern thought, would come in handy and all this prolegomena to phenomenology (Husserl), without which one cannot read L’être et le néant or Sein und Zeit.
Diary, 1960