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Kolakowski’s Law Located

Buried treasure unearthed. Now I need to buy the book.

Robert Wargas


June 19, 2012 - 2:30 pm

In my previous post, I lamented not being able to find the source of The Law of the Infinite Cornucopia, also known as Kolakowski’s Law. Internet searches turned up a bunch of similarly worded references on blogs, all with no citations to original works.

A reader has pointed out that, using Google Books, a reference to the law can be found in a few philosophy books in which the original work by Kolakowski is cited. Google Books is not yet a part of my search habits, and in the past Google Books results have turned up in regular Internet searches, so I didn’t think to use it. My mistake.

It still strikes me as odd, though, that such an interesting argument from such a famous philosopher, with implications for political theory as well as the philosophy of religion and other fields, has not been cited to its original source far more often than it has.

The book in which it appeared is a 1982 work entitled Religion. Sadly, the section of this book containing an exegesis of the infinite cornucopia does not appear on Google Books. One of the secondary texts that mentions the law, however, cites the following quote from Kolakowski:

“The law of the infinite cornucopia…applies not only to philosophy but to all general theories in the human and social sciences: it states that there is never a shortage of arguments to support any doctrine you want to believe in for whatever reasons. These arguments, however, are not entirely barren. They have helped in elucidating the stats questiones and in explaining why these questions matter.”

Interesting: the law originated in a discussion by Kolakowski not of Marxism but of religion. According to Google Books, the law is also cited by the perennial sophist Cornel West and by the anti-Cold Warrior novelist John le Carre.

My next task is to get a copy of that book by Kolakowski and further explore the law’s implications.

Thank you, reader.

Robert Wargas is a contributor to PJ Media. A native of Long Island, he was educated at the City University of New York and Yale University, and has also written for The Daily Telegraph of London and The Weekly Standard. Outside of opinion writing, he has worked as a professional historian for a major research laboratory and university, documenting the history of biotechnology since the 1970s. He has also reported for both weekly and daily newspapers, including Newsday. He maintains a personal blog/website at Follow him on Twitter @RobertWargas
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