Wednesday, 4 July 2018


YITSKHOK POLISHUK (ISADORE POLISHUCK) (July 23, 1882-September 20, 1964)
            He was born in Vasilkov (Vasylkiv), Kiev Province, Ukraine.  In 1904 he moved to the United States, settled in Chicago, and there lived out his years.  He worked in a sweatshop and studied, and in 1917 he graduated as a medical doctor.  He worked for the municipal department of health until his retirement.  Although his specialty was psychiatry, he never wrote on this topic.  He was active in the Labor Zionist party.  In his late fifties, he first began to write books about the development of philosophical thought.  He was a regular contributor to the philosophy journal Davke (Necessarily) in Buenos Aires.  He also placed pieces in: Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) in Tel Aviv.  In book form, he published: Di antviklung fun bavustzayn un der protses fun visn, a realistishe batrakhtung fun der velt fun dem menshlekhe visn (The development of consciousness and the process of knowledge, a realistic deliberation from the world of human knowledge) (Chicago: Tseshinski, 1939), 2 volumes, with a preface by Chaim Zhitlovsky; Di antviklung funem eyropeyishn denken un der idisher baytrog (The development of European thought and the Jewish contribution) (Chicago: L. M. Shteyn, 1945), 2 volumes (489 pp. and 497 pp.); Fun borekh shpinoze biz shmuel aleksander, a kritisher analiz un an eygener blik (From Baruch Spinoza to Samuel Alexander, a critical analysis and my own view) (Chicago: L. M. Shteyn, 1956), 314 pp.  Dr. Polishuk had a broad, universal approach to philosophical problems; and he possessed the necessary, basic knowledge.  He was sincere in his criteria and straightforward about the information he provided.  He knew that he was not writing about fundamental philosophical issues.  He was, though, conscious of the fact that he was showing the ways that would lead to fundamental problems.  Polishuk’s favorite field within philosophy was “critical realism,” a field that “embraces the fact that the reality,” wrote Shloyme Suskovitsh, “that the senses give us must undergo critical analysis….  Since Zhitlovsky, there has not been in our Jewish world such an authentic philosopher who will bequeath such genuine and profound philosophical works, as has been left by Dr. Yitskhok Polushuk.”

Sources: L. Lehrer, in Yivo-bleter (New York) 16 (1950), pp. 28-73; Lehrer, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (January 1957); Dr. E. Knox, in Tsukunft (Future) (February 1944; October 1946; June 1957); Shloyme Suskovitsh, in Davke (Buenos Aires) 29 (1956) and 54 (January-June 1965); Suskovitsh, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (December 9, 1964); A. Mukdoni, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 3, 1956); Yitskhok Varshavski (Bashevis), in Forverts (New York) (April 22, 1956); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tsukunft (January 1965).
Leyb Vaserman

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