Leszek Kolakowski

has died today, story below–

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/world/europe/21kolakowski.html?hpw

and a note from a friend, in which I agree:
We’re running out of minds! Europe lost one of it’s last great thinkers, and the greatest critic of Marxism/Stalinism yet born. His work does not condense well for summary, but this passage struck me as fairly quotable, and captured the humility that runs through all his work:
“In the case of the intellectuals, the only specific matter they are professionally responsible for is the good use– that is, the upright and least misleading use– of the word. It is less a matter of truth than of the spirit of truth, since nobody can promise that he will never be mistaken; but it is possible to preserve the spirit of truth, which means never to abandon a vigilant mistrust of one’s own words and identifications, to know how to retract one’s own errors, and to be capable of self-correction.”
— LK, from “The Intellectuals”
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