BENISŁAWSKI Jan—mathematician, logician, philosopher, reformer of the school system, b. July 16, 1736 in Inflanty, d. 1812 in Inflanty.

When he was twentyone he entered the Jesuit order in Wilno. After he was ordained a priest in 1768 he became a professor of mathematics in Wilno, and thereafter in Połock. He was consecrated as a bishop at the hands of Archetti, and became the titular bishop of Gadara and the coadjutor of Mohyl.

Benisławski’s mature philosophical work was done while he was in Nowogrodek where he was a professor of philosophy. After this he became the last lecturer of philosophy in the Wilno Academy. Also while in Wilno Academy he published in 1774 the philosophical treatise Institutiones logicae seu brevis tractatus de cultura ingenerii. Like his predecessors in the chair of philosophy (in the spirit of scholastic Aristotelianism) he regarded logic as the science that provides the best preparation for philosophy, and he saw philosophy as an instrument to defend the Catholic faith. According to W. Wąsik, Benisławski’s treatise lacked originality and did not have any significant influence on the philosophical thought of the period.

After the suppression of the Jesuit order (1773), Benisławski became the rector of schools in Brzeg under the National Commission of Education, and then devoted himself to the defense and reorganization of schooling in the Eastern Regions of the Republic.

M. Loret, Kościoł katolicki a Katarzyna II 1772–1784 [The Catholic Church and Catherine II 1772–1784], Kr 1910; M. Godlewski, PSB I 434–435; W. Wąsik, Historia filozofii polskiej [History of Polish Philosophy], I, Wwa 1958; Mały słownik jezuitów w Polsce, Wwa 1995.

Paweł Skrzydlewski

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