Scope and Contents
The majority of this collection consists of Kolenda’s own writing (notes, drafts, source material). The next largest group consists of source material only on four philosophers (Peirce, Rorty, Ryle and Wittgenstein). There is a small quantity of Kolenda correspondence, course material, and Will Rice College material, as well as some National Endowment for the Humanities material.
These papers came from Kolenda’s Fondren Library study and probably represent projects in progress at the time of his death (Dec. 5, 1991).
Biographical / Historical
Konstantin Kolenda was born in a small town in eastern Poland on May 17, 1923. When Poland was invaded by Germany, he was taken to Germany to work in an optical factory; later, when Germany was taken by the United States, he became an interpreter for the American troops. He came to Houston from Germany in 1946 under the sponsorship of George Hill, an independent oilman from Houston who he met in Germany.
While in Houston, Kolenda worked for George Hill’s company, Houston Oil and Gas, and eventually attended Rice University. Kolenda graduated from Rice with a B.A. in Philosophy and German in 1950, and from Cornell with a Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1953. While at Cornell, he held the Susan Linn Sage Fellowship (1950-1953) and was the recipient of the Graduate Prize in Philosophy in 1953.
In September of 1953 he returned to Rice University and became a professor of philosophy, where he would remain for 38 years. He was honored with the position of Chair of the Philosophy department after 22 years as a professor, and he was also named Carolyn and Fred McManis Professor of Philosophy.
He served as Will Rice Resident Associate from 1951-1962, was a member of the Texas Committee for the Humanities from 1975-1979, and he was also on the editorial advisory board for Philosophical Topics. For the academic year 1959-1960, he was awarded a Fulbright grant and lectured on American philosophy at the University of Heidlberg. He taught as visiting professor at West Point, Colorado College, and the University of Texas. He also received the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal from the Department of the Army in 1984, was named to Who’s Who in America, and served as director of the Mellon Workshop in Philosophy and Literature at Rice in 1987. Dr. Kolenda was a very well-known and well-respected professor, and he authored or edited over a dozen books on Philosophy including: Philosophy’s Journey, Ethics for the Young, Religion Without God, and Cosmic Religion. Dr. Kolenda died in December 5, 1991 at the age of 68.