Synopsis

The present volume deviates slightly from the standard pattern established for those volumes of the Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities devoted tot he analysis of outstanding living scholars. Specifically, Gellner found himself unwilling and perhaps unable to write an intellectual autobiography , for all that his lengthy “Reply to Critics” contains much autobiographical material. Consequently, our editorial introduction undertakes to provide a skeleton of Gellner’s biography designed to assist reader unfamiliar with his life and times. Since the aim of the present volume was to give as rounded a coverage as possible to Gellner’s oeuvre, we have added to the papers specially written for this volume some others published elsewhere. . .

It remains to be said that we had hoped to present this volume to a still-productive Ernest Gellner, a sentiment echoed in many of the paper. Instead, it is our grim duty to report that Gellner died suddenly, whilst at the height of his powers, on 5 November 1995 — on the eve of a conference on Popper which he had organized and was expecting to orchestrate, and one month before a conference organized by the Central European University to mark the occasion of his seventieth birthday. His loss, both in terms of intellectual output and his considerable impact on the consolidation of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, is a grievous blow. As a consequence of Gellner’s death, we have made some small changes to our own Introduction, but have left the rest of the volume in the form in which it was intended.