The Order of Time
Interview with Krzysztof Pomian — Directeur de recherche émérite — CNRS
Jean Goulemot — Professeur émérite — Université de Tours
How do historians get to know the past? Which tracks do they follow? These are two of the main questions Krzysztof Pomian asks in his work. A philosopher and a historian, he was forced to leave Poland after his eviction of Varsovia University. As French seventeenth century writer Pierre Bayle wrote in the preface of his Dictionnaire historique et critique, history needs to be a “combination of proofs and discussions”. Through his work, Pomian implemented this program, in particular all along his researches about collections’ formation, collectors and museums. His studies deal indeed with a plurality of sources, encompass a variety of periods through a longue durée approach and transcend academic fields by entangling history, art history, philosophy and anthropology.  
One life, one research itinerary
Interview published on 01-08-2018
Last modified on 04-11-2018
Original language: English Lire la version French
  • Biography
  • Bibliography of Krzysztof Pomian
  • Interview’s bibliography

Krzysztof Pomian’s is an emeritus research director at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) and a professor at the Copernicus University in Poland. He first studied philosophy at Warsaw University and was then encouraged by Leszek Kolakowski to focus on the French writer Pierre Bayle. Since the beginning of his researches, he examines epistemological questions concerning knowledge’s development: how does historical science construct itself? How can we understand the past, and how do historians manage to think about time? Obtaining his PhD in 1965, this Enlightenment specialist defended in 1968 his accreditation to supervise research. At that time, he was ousted from the university by communist authorities and then decided to settle in France, from where he supported the Solidarity trade union (Solidarność). Beyond his teaching activities (at the École de hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), l’École du Louvre or at the Geneva University), Krzysztof Pomian assumes that social sciences have a role to play within public space. His participation to editorial boards journals (Le Débat, Vingtième siècle: Revue d’histoire) or his commitment in museums’ projects (Europe museum of Brussels, Museum of the Second World War of Gdansk) underline his interest in building a European history. His scientific assessment in museology and his implication in museum boards results from his researches on European cultural patrimony, particularly on collectors and on museums’ formation history.

Ibn Khaldûn au prisme de l’Occident, Paris, Gallimard, 2006.

Des saintes reliques à l’art moderne. Venise-Chicago, XIIIe-XXe siècle, Paris, Gallimard, 2003.

Sur l’Histoire, Paris, Gallimard, 1999.

(with Thomas Gaehtgens), Histoire artistique de l’Europe. Le XVIIIe siècle, Paris, Le Seuil, 1995.

Collectionneurs, amateurs et curieux. Paris-Venise, XVIe-XVIIIe siècles, Paris, Gallimard 1987.

Przeszłość jako przedmiot wiary. Historia i filozofia w myśli średniowiecza, [Le passé, objet de foi. L’histoire et la philosophie dans la pensée du Moyen Âge], PWN, Varsovie 1968.

Bronislaw Baczko, Rousseau, solitude et communauté, Paris-La Haye, Mouton, 1974.

Pierre Bayle, Dictionnaire historique et critique, Amsterdam, chez Reinier Leers, 1697.

Abdesselam Cheddadi, Ibn Khaldûn. L’homme et le théoricien de la civilisation, Paris, Gallimard, 2006.

Leszek Kolakowski, Chrétiens sans Église: la conscience religieuse et le lien confessionnel au XVIIe siècle, Paris, Gallimard, 1969.

Arnaldo Momigliano, Studies in Historiography, Londres, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1966.

William Roscoe, The life of Lorenzo de' Medici: called the Magnificent, 1795.