Kazimierz Łyszczyński

Kazimierz Łyszczyński

Kazimierz Łyszczyński (March 4, 1634March 30, 1689), also known in English as Casimir Liszinski, was a Polish noble, landowner, philosopher, and soldier in the ranks of the Sapieha family, who was who was accused, tried, and executed for atheism in 1689. [Aleksander Gieysztor, Krystyna Cekalska, 1979, "History of Poland", page 261: A Lithuanian nobleman, Kazimierz Lyszczynski, was even beheaded for his alleged, or real, atheism (1689)] [Jerzy Kłoczowski, 2000, "A History of Polish Christianity", page 155: The most famous episode was the sentencing to death of Kazimierz Lyszczynski, a nobleman accused of atheism, by the Sejm court in 1689.]

For eight years he studied philosophy as a Jesuit and then became a podsędek (supply judge) in legal cases against the Jesuits concerning estates. He wrote a treatise entitled "The non-existence of God" and was later later executed on charges of atheism. His trial was criticized and is seen as an isolated case of legalized "religious murder" in Poland. ["The Spirit of Polish History" by Antoni Chołoniewski. Translated by Jane (Addy) Arctowska. Published by The Polish Book Importing Co., inc., 1918. p. 38 "The execution of the nobleman Lyszczynski, accused of atheism, religious murder ordered by the Diet of 1689, remained an isolated case."]

De non existentia Dei

Łyszczyński wrote a treatise entitled "De non existentia Dei" (the non-existence of God) in which he held that God does not exist and that religions are the inventions of man. [ [http://ptta.pl/pef/angielski/hasla/a/atheism.pdf ATHEISM] Polskie Towarzystwo Tomasza z Akwinu, p. 17]

On basis of a public accusation, a trial at the front of the Sejm Commission was conducted. There is an actual transcript of the preceedings in a Library of Kórnik, of a speech of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Instigator Regni Szymon Kurowicz Zabistowski, in which he cited fragments of "De non existentia Dei". The treatise itself was destroyed but the cited fragements that survived are as follows:

" "I - we beseech you, o' theologians, by your God, if in this manner do you not extinguish the light of Reason, do you not oust the sun from this world, do you not pull down your God from the sky, when attributing him the impossible, the characteristics and attributes contradicting themselves.

"II - the Man is a creator of God, and God is a concept and creation of a Man. Hence the people are architects and engineers of God and God is not a true being, but a being existing only within mind, being chimeric by its nature, because a God and a chimera are the same.

"III - Religion was constituted by people without religion, so they could be worshipped although the God is not existent. Piety was introduced by the unpietic. The fear of God was spread by the unafraid so that the people were afraid of them in the end. Devotion named godly is a design of Man. Doctrine, be it logical or philosophical, bragging to be teaching the truth of God, is false, and on the contrary, the one condemned as false, is the very true one.

"IV - simple folk are cheated by the more cunning with the fabrication of God for their own oppression; whereas the same oppression is shielded by the folk in a way, that if the wise attempted to free them by the truth, they would be quelled by the very people.

"V - nevertheless we do not experience within us and within any other such an imperative of reason, which would ensure us of a truth of divine revelation. Alas if they were present in us, then everyone would have to acknowledge them and would have no doubts and would not contradict the Writings of Moses and the Gospels - which is not true - and there would be no different congregations and their followers as Mahomet etc. Such an imperative is not known and there are not only doubts, but there are some who deny a revelation, and they are not fools, but wise men, who with a proper reasoning prove what? the very contrary, what I also prove here. Concluding, that God does not exist"." [Andrzej Nowicki, 1957]

Execution

Łyszczyński was reading a book by Henry Aldsted entitled "Theologia Naturalis", which attempted to prove the existence of divinity. But the arguments were so confused that Łyszczyński was able to infer contradictions. In ridicule of Aldsted, Łyszczyński wrote in the margins of the book the words "ergo non est Deus".

This was discovered by one of Łyszczyński's debtors, Jan Kazimierz Brzoska, who was the nuncio of Brest in Lithuania or a Stolnik of Bracławice or Łowczy of Brześć. Brest, reluctant to return a great sum of money lent by Łyszczyński, accused Lyszczynski of being an atheist and gave as evidence the aforementioned work to Witwicki, bishop of Posnania. Brzoska also stole and delivered to the court a handwritten copy of "De non existentia Dei", which was the first Polish philosophical treatise presenting reality from an atheistic perspective, developed by Łyszczyński from 1674 onwards. Witwicki along with the Zaluski, bishop of Kiod, took up this case with a zeal. The King attempted to help Łyszczyński by ordering that he should be judged at Vilna, but this could not save Łyszczyński from the clergy. Łyszczyński's first privilege of a Polish noble, that he could not be imprisoned before his condemnation, was violated. Łyszczyński's affair was brought before the diet of 1689 where he was accused of having denied the existence of God and having blasphemed against the Virgin Mary and the saints. He was condemned to death for atheism. The sentence was undertaken before noon at the Old Town Market in Warsaw, where his tongue was pulled out followed by a beheading.Harv|Skorobohaty|1840|loc="Chapter XV"|pp=412-415 Cazimir Lyszczynski, a noble and landowner of Lithuania, a man of a very respectable character, was perusing a book entitled Theologia Naturalis, by Henry Aldsted, a Protestant divine, and finding that the arguments which the author employed in order to prove the existence of divinity, were so confused that it was possible to deduce from them quite contrary consequences, he added on the margin the following words — “ergo non est Deus,” evidently ridiculing the arguments of the author. This circumstance was found out by Brzoska, nuncio of Brest in Lithuania, a debtor of Lyszczynski, who denouned him as an atheist, delivering, as evidence of his accusation, a copy of the work with the above-mentioned annotation to Witwicki, bishop of Posnania, who took up this affair with the greatest violence. He was zealously seconded by Zaluski, bishop of Kiod, a prelate known for his great learning and not devoid of merit in other respects, which however proved no check to religious fanaticism. The king, who was very far from countenancing such enormities, attempted to save the unfortunate Lyszczynski, by ordering that he should be judged at Vilna; but nothing could shelter the unfortunate man against the fanatical rage of the clergy represented by the two bishops; and the first privilege of a Polish noble, that he could not be imprisoned before his condemnation, and which had theretofore been sacredly observed even with the greatest criminals, was violated. On the simple accusation of his debtor, supported by the bishops, the affair was brought before the diet of 1689, before which the clergy, and particularly the bishop Zaluski, accused Lyszczynski of having denied the existence of God, and uttered blasphemies against the blessed Virgin and the saints. The unfortunate victim, terrified by his perilous situation, acknowledged all that was imputed to him, made a full recantation of all he might have said and written against the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church, and declared his entire submission to its authority. This was, however, of no avail to him, and his accusers were even scandalized that the diet permitted him to make a defence, and granted the term of three days for collecting evidence of his innocence, as the accusation of the clergy ought, in their judgment, to be sufficient evidence on which to condemn the culprit. The fanaticism of the diet was excited in a most scandalous manner by the blasphemous representation that divinity should be propitiated by the blood of its offenders. The diet decreed that Lyszczynski should have his tongue pulled out, and then be beheaded and burnt. This atrocious sentence was executed, and the bishop Zaluski himself gives a relation of what he considered an act of piety and justice! The king was horror-struck at this news and exclaimed that the Inquisition could not do any thing worse. It is necessary, on this occasion, to render justice to Pope Innocent XI., who, instead of conferring a cardinal’s hat on the bishop of Posnania, bitterly censured this disgraceful affair.] After that, his corpse was transported beyond the city borders and cremated.

Bishop Zaluski gave the following account of the execution:

tatus in modern Poland

Regardless of whether Łyszczyński was genuinely an atheist, in communist Poland he came to be celebrated as a martyr of the atheist cause. In a series of papers, Andrzej Nowicki presented a romanticized view of Łyszczyński, stating that "in terms of breadth of intellectual horizons, the thoroughness of philosophical erudition and the boldness of thought, he was beyond doubt the most eminent Polish mind of the epoch."Maciej Pomian-Srzednicki, (1982): It appears that Łyszczyński was sentenced to death for writing a treatise entitled 'De non existentia Dei' ... and all that remains are a few notes which were made during the trial. Apart from this and also the fact that his execution caused some controversy at the time on account of his being a member of the gentry, next to nothing is known about Łyszczyński. Łyszczyński's importance as a martyr of the atheist cause has led to his romanticization by Nowicki and to his rescue from a murky cell in the obscure by-ways of history. A copious amount of writing has appeared concerning both what is not known about him and what the content of his thought might have been. Nowicki writes boldly: 'Polish intellectual life cannot boast of any one figure who could compare with Łyszczyński in terms of breadth of intellectual horizons, the thoroughness of philosophical erudition and the boldness of thought. He was beyond doubt the most eminent Polish mind of the epoch.' What a pity that no one knows what the content of his thought was. According to the notes made at the trial, Łyszczyński, was curiously 'modern', even to the point of incongruity, in his critique of religion: all of his remarks might have been made by Marx or Lenin ... Łyszczyński clearly states his disbelief in God. The incongruity of this idea, however, lies in an inability to understand its genesis in the context of Polish society at that time ... there is no independent or clear evidence of other individuals with similar inclinations during Łyszczyński's time. To say that Łyszczyński was simply ahead of his time means nothing: it is an admission of the unavailability of an explanation.]

See also

* Religion in Poland

References

*Harvard reference
first=Walerjan
last=Skorobohaty
authorlink=Walerjan Skorobohaty
title=Historical Sketch Of The Rise, Progress And Decline Of The Reformation In Poland V1
publisher=University of Michigan
year=1840
url=http://books.google.com/books?id=NnlIAAAAMAAJ&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0

* L. Łyszczinskij, "Rod dworian Łyszczinskich", S. Pietierburg 1907.
* A. Nowicki, "Pięć fragmentów z dzieła "De non existentia dei" Kazimierza Łyszczyńskiego" (by a script fromLibrary of Kórnik nr 443), "Euhemer", nr 1, 1957, pp. 72-81.
* A. Nowicki, "Aparatura pojęciowa rozważań Kazimierza Łyszczyńskiego (1634-1689) o religii i stosunkach między ludźmi", "Euhemer, Zeszyty Filozoficzne", nr 3, 1962, pp. 53-81.
* A. Nowicki, "Studia nad Łyszczyńskim", "Euhemer, Zeszyty Filozoficzne", nr 4, 1963, pp. 22-83.
** A. Nowicki, "Pięć wiadomości o Łyszczyńskim w gazecie paryskiej z roku 1689", "Euhemer, Zeszyty Filozoficzne", nr 4, 1963, pp. 40-44.
** A. Nowicki, "Sprawa Kazimierza Łyszczyńskiego na Sejmie w Warszawie w świetle rękopisu Diariusza Sejmowego, znajdującego się w Wojewódzkim Archiwum Państwowym w Gdańsku", "Euhemer, Zeszyty Filozoficzne", nr 4, 1963, pp. 23-39.
* "Ateizm Kazimierza Łyszczyńskiego", (w:) A. Nowicki, "Wykłady o krytyce religii w Polsce", Warszawa 1965, pp. 51-68.
*Maciej Pomian-Srzednicki, (1982), "Religious Change in Contemporary Poland: Secularization and Politics", pages 103-4. Routledge. ISBN 0-710-09245-8

Citations and footnotes

External links

* A. Nowicki: [http://www.racjonalista.pl/kk.php/s,5202 Kazimierz Łyszczyński] , Towarzystwo Krzewienia Kultury Świeckiej, Łódź 1989, p.80.
* [http://lista.racjonalista.pl Kazimierz Łyszczyński's Web List of Atheists and Agnostics]


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