About the Hungarian Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Hungarian Encyclopedia of Philosophy (HEP) refers to the academic project to create the encyclopedic overview of the history and present of Hungarian philosophy. By “Hungarian philosophy” the editors understand not only philosophical endeavors reaching back to the early middle ages and composed first in Latin, later in Hungarian and German, but the much wider context which is connected to various dimensions of Central-European culture with relevance to Hungarian philosophy. One of the important characteristics of HEP is the covering of the philosophical aspects of various cultural fields, such as music, fine arts, and literature. This systemic feature of HEP is based on its peculiar philosophical character. This philosophy, emerging from Latin and Greek sources, became a scholastic discipline widely taught in ecclesial schools of both Catholic and Protestant denominations during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the cultural centers of traditional Hungarian territories. From the late eighteenth century, vernacular philosophical works appeared, a few of which were composed in Hungarian. During the nineteenth century, a robust Hungarian philosophy emerged in close connection to German language philosophies of the Austrian Empire. Due to this development, Hungarian philosophy can be considered a branch of what is often termed “Austrian Philosophy”. 

From the late nineteenth century, a Hungarian philosophy began to reach the level of international influence due to its high quality of education at universities in Pozsony, Budapest, and Kolozsvár. The most important characteristic of this philosophy was its close connection to religious-theological subjects discussed either in legal or in existential frameworks. The important authors of Hungarian philosophy during the early twentieth century connected their work to Austrian and German schools, yet developed their own specific character as can be seen in the works of Palágyi Menyhért, Enyvváry Jenő or Szilasi Vilmos. Some of the Hungarian philosophers were connected to Marxism, as is shown especially by the work of Lukács György. Others attempted to strike a new path to existential-religious problems, such as Hamvas Béla or Gondos-Grünhut László. Between these two camps, a number of well-versed professional philosophers were working at universities, such as Pauler Ákos and Brandenstein Béla. Before and after the Second World War, a number of philosophers left the country and produced significant oeuvres in other languages, such as Polányi Mihály, Polányi Károly, Köstler Artúr, Kolnai Aurél, Vető Miklós, or Kékes János. These and other thinkers developed their thought in varying circumstances, yet there are some elements, most importantly their mother tongue, interest in Central European culture, and a synthetic approach to culture and philosophy, that contributed to the rise of their characteristic philosophical thought. An important group of Hungarian philosophers worked in the new countries created from the territories of Austria-Hungary, such as Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Rumania. 

Hungarian philosophy embraces thus these seven important realms: 

  1. a) Traditional Hungarian philosophy reaching back to the middle ages; 
  2. b) Hungarian philosophy under the influence of Austrian and German authors; 
  3. c) Characteristic Hungarian philosophy after the First World War; 
  4. d) Emigrant Hungarians creating important philosophical works in the West; 
  5. e) Marxist philosophers during the ideological rule of the Soviet system between 1945 and 1990; 
  6. f) Hungarian philosophy in the new nation states in Central Europe; and finally
  7. g) Hungarian philosophy after 1990. 

HEP will cover all these dimensions and their important authors. Moreover, it aims at offering short articles about generally known philosophers, such as Plato or Aristotle, Hume or Husserl, written by contemporary Hungarian experts. 

HEP wants to produce the traditional encyclopedia in paper and digital forms. It will organize conferences and workshops on relevant subjects related to the above conception of Hungarian philosophy. If the financial framework allows it, HEP will also support publication of important works by contemporary Hungarian philosophers in Hungarian and English. And finally, HEP will produce a concise version of the encyclopedia in English when the main part of the work is completed. In this way, HEP is not only about the creation of a lexicon, but rather a philosophical project embracing a number of dimensions.

Firstly, it will fill the lacuna of the missing academic overview of the history and contents of Hungarian philosophy specifically so-called. 

Secondly, it creates an academic workshop of philosophers discussing, writing and editing the articles for HEP. 

Thirdly, it supports the publication of important contemporary works belonging to Hungarian philosophy. 

Fourthly, it organizes workshops and conferences about issues belonging to HEP. 

Fifthly, it enhances academic cooperation among Central European universities and research centers in related philosophical endeavors.