Polish academics: the war in Ukraine an attack on fundamental values

A Clash of Values? Axiological Aspects of War

PhotoCredit: John Paul II Catholic University of Lubli
24.06.2022, Lublin - Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski. Areopag Uniwersytetów - Uniwersytet a wojna Fot. Tomasz Koryszko/KUL

For us, Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine is an assault on such Western values as freedom, democracy, right to property, right to life, and respect for one’s identity. In Russian public discourse axiological questions are becoming increasingly central and are invoked to justify Russian aggression and crimes, said Fr. Prof. Marcin Składanowski during a meeting of scholars from Poland’s five largest universities. The subject of the debate, held on 24 June 2022 at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin was: “A Clash of Values? Axiological Aspects of War”.

“Today’s axiological discourse on the predicament of war has revealed the potential of the human heart. By having to face this tragic situation, we have grown up internally. We have come to see the other person without expecting anything in return. (…) I think that even though we may be divided by denominations and religions, when we think in terms of the heart, we are closer to human, or humanistic values, which awaken in us a sensitivity to the Other” – indicated Rector of the Catholic University of Lublin Fr. Prof. Mirosław Kalinowski”.

PhotoCredit: John Paul II Catholic University of Lubli

Participating in the debate were also Rector of the University of Warsaw Prof. Alojzy Z. Nowak, Rector of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow Prof. Jacek Popiel, Rector of Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań Prof. Bogumiła Kaniewska, and Rector of the University of Varmia and Mazury in Olsztyn Dr. hab. Jerzy Andrzej Przyborowski.

During the debate, experts discussed among others the doctrine of a just war in the context of different axiological systems, referring to Russia’s current full-scale aggression against Ukraine, but also to the Kremlin’s policy preceding it. The scholars stressed that Russia has for centuries demonstrated imperialist tendencies, additionally legitimized by high representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church.

“The good and hope, evil and fear of the people of our time, especially those experiencing war and violence, pain and exile, are also the good and hope, evil and fear of the university communities. One cannot find anything truly human, any human experience and knowledge which would not reverberate in our lecture halls” – stressed the organizers of the Areopagus of Universities, adding that the Russian-Ukrainian war, like the earlier COVID-19 pandemic, has undermined the faith of Western societies in stability and development.

“In the 21st century, the human person bears an astonishing resemblance to his ancestors living in the 20th, 16th or 5th century. The events of the war show how technological development is at odds with moral development, with the values of democracy, tolerance and the culture of communal life. (…) Today these questions cannot overlook the issue of security, which is never only mine, but invariably ours”, added the organizers.

The underlying ides of the Areopagus of Universities, held under the auspices of the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland is to hold a public debate on contemporary challenges faced by universities. It is an initiative of the academic community of four universities: John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, University of Warsaw, Jagiellonian University, and Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań. In 2021, during the first debate of the Areopagus of Universities, experts reflected on questions concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, while this year the discussions focused on the war in Ukraine.

Catholic University of Lublin