Feliks Karol Koneczny Polish pronunciation: [ˈfɛliks ˈkarɔl kɔˈnɛtʂnɨ] (1 November 1862, Kraków – 10 February 1949, Kraków) was a Polish historian and social philosopher. He founded the original system of the comparative science of civilizations.
Koneczny graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and began work at the Jagiellonian Library. After Poland regained its independence, he became an assistant professor in 1919. In June 1920, after he had qualified and received the degree of doctor habilitatus, he became a professor at Stefan Batory University in Wilno. After retiring in 1929, he moved back to Kraków.
His interests ranged from purely historical research to the philosophy of history, religion and philosophy. His pioneering works deal with the history of Russia. Koneczny authored extensive monographs of Byzantine and Jewish civilizations, which he considered to be less developed than the Latin civilization of Catholic western Europe. In 1948, after sixty years of research work Koneczny calculated that his written scholarly output encompassed 26 volumes, each of them being 300 to 400 pages long, not to mention more than 300 articles, brochures and reprints. His theory of civilizations might have inspired Anton Hilckman, Samuel P. Huntington and others.
Types of civilizations, according to Koneczny
Feliks Koneczny divided civilizations into about twenty types, of which seven types still exist. Four are ancient: "Brahmin," "Jewish," "Chinese," and "Turanian". Three are medieval: "Latin," "Byzantine," and "Arab." The differences between civilizations are based on their attitude to law and ethics.
For example, Koneczny claimed that in Latin civilization, ethics is the source of law. If some laws are not ethical, then they are changed. Religion is autonomous, independent and separated from the state. Individuality, self-rule and decentralization are highly valued. Government is judged on the basis of its adherence to ethics. The law is of dual nature, divided into public and private spheres.
In Byzantine civilization, organized religion is dependent on the state. In this type of civilization all means are justified to achieve political goals. Politicians follow ethics in private life, but in public they are judged by their skills, not by ethics. The legal government has absolute authority and its orders are not doubted. Germany under Bismarck was an example of that type of civilization.
In Turanian civilization, the government is the source of law and ethics and stands above the law and ethics. The ruler cannot be doubted. Koneczny considered Russia under the Tsars an example of this type of civilization.
Jewish civilization considers the law most important. The law is the source of ethics. The law cannot be changed. However, the same law can be differently interpreted, which leads to ethical relativism. According to Koneczny, one of the elements of Jewish civilization is a belief in the superior role of one nation or race. Communist states are also products of Jewish civilization. Similarly to the Brahmin or Hindu civilization, it is sacral, with religion playing a central role.
Koneczny claimed that civilizations cannot mix, and any "synthesis" of several civilizations leads to the victory of one over the other, lower moral standards, or to a state of "un-civilization."
Koneczny did not tie civilization type to any particular race or nation. Hence, Poles could represent the Turanian type of civilization (as, according to Koneczny, did Józef Piłsudski's Poland) and Germans could represent the Jewish type. Shockingly, in his publication Hitleryzm zażydzony ('The Judaized Hitlerism') Koneczny claimed that Adolf Hitler was an example of the Jewish civilization type. On the other hand, an ethnic Jew could represent the Latin type of civilization.
Koneczny considered racism something alien to Latin civilization, which he considered the highest type.
According to Koneczny, Europe in his time was a battlefield between three types of civilization: Latin, Turan and Jewish. He argued that Byzantine type of civilization had already lost the battle and was in deep crisis.
Most in Polish; one book available in English translation.
- Dzieje Rosyi. Tom I. (do roku 1449), Spółka Wydawnicza Warszawska, Warsaw 1917 (in Polish)
- Polskie Logos a Ethos, t. I–II, Księgarnia sw. Wojciecha, Poznań 1921.
- O wielości cywilizacyj, Gebethner & Wolff, Kraków 1935. English translation (abridged) On the Plurality of Civilisations, Polonica Publications, London 1962.
- Święci w dziejach narodu polskiego / Saints in the history of the Polish nation, t. 1–2, Tow. Sw. Michała Archanioła, Miejsce Piastowe 1937–1939.
- Rozwój moralności / Extension of Morality, Tow. Wiedzy Chrześć., Lublin 1938.
- Cywilizacja bizantyjska / Byzantine civilisation, Towarzystwo im. Romana Dmowskiego, London 1973.
- Cywilizacja żydowska / Jewish civilisation, Towarzystwo im. Romana Dmowskiego, London 1974.
- O ład w historii / For order in history, Towarzystwo im. Romana Dmowskiego, London 1977.
- Państwo w cywilizacji łacińskiej. Zasady prawa w cywilizacji łacińskiej / Land in Latin civilisation. Rules of law in Latin civilisation, Towarzystwo im. Romana Dmowskiego, London 1981 (in Polish)
- Prawa dziejowe (oraz dodatek) Bizantynizm niemiecki / History laws (and an addendum) German byzantinism, Towarzystwo im. Romana Dmowskiego, London 1982.
- Dzieje Rosji / History of Russia. Tom III. Schyłek Iwana III / Downfall of Ivan III of Russia. 1492–1505, Towarzystwo im. Romana Dmowskiego, London 1984.
- Zionism and the Polish cause (in Polish)
- Biliński P..Feliks Karol Koneczny - academic career path (alternate link), Kwart Hist Nauki Tech. 2005;50(1):95-115. Last accessed on 26 April 2007.
- Joanna Beata Michlic, Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present, U of Nebraska Press, 2006, ISBN 0-8032-3240-3 Google Print, p.179
- P. Biliński Feliks Koneczny (1862–1949). Życie i działalność. Ad astra, Warsaw 2001.