Ernst Alfred Cassirer (/kɑːˈsɪərər, kə-/; German: [ˈʔɛɐ̯nst kaˈsiːʁɐ]; July 28, 1874 – April 13, 1945) was a German philosopher. Trained within the Neo-Kantian Marburg School, he initially followed his mentor Hermann Cohen in attempting to supply an idealistic philosophy of science.
After Cohen's death, Cassirer developed a theory of symbolism and used it to expand phenomenology of knowledge into a more general philosophy of culture. Cassirer was one of the leading 20th-century advocates of philosophical idealism. His most famous work is the Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1923–1929).
Ernst Alfred Cassirer
Cassirer in about 1935
|Born||July 28, 1874|
|Died||April 13, 1945 (aged 70)|
|Education||University of Marburg|
University of Berlin
(Dr. phil. habil., 1906)
|School||Neo-Kantianism (Marburg School)|
Ontic structural realism
|Academic advisors||Hermann Cohen|
|Philosophy of symbolic forms|
Ontic structural realism
Born in Breslau in Silesia (modern-day southwest Poland), into a Jewish family, Cassirer studied literature and philosophy at the University of Marburg (where he completed his doctoral work in 1899 with a dissertation on Descartes's analysis of mathematical and natural scientific knowledge entitled Descartes' Kritik der mathematischen und naturwissenschaftlichen Erkenntnis [Descartes' Critique of Mathematical and Scientific Knowledge]) and at the University of Berlin (where he completed his habilitation in 1906 with the dissertation Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophie und Wissenschaft der neueren Zeit: Erster Band [The Problem of Knowledge in Philosophy and Science in the Modern Age: Volume I]).
Politically, Cassirer supported the liberal German Democratic Party (DDP). After working for many years as a Privatdozent at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin, Cassirer was elected in 1919 to the philosophy chair at the newly founded University of Hamburg, where he lectured until 1933, supervising amongst others the doctoral theses of Joachim Ritter and Leo Strauss. Because he was Jewish, he left Germany after the Nazis came to power in 1933.
After leaving Germany he taught for a couple of years at the University of Oxford, before becoming a professor at Gothenburg University. When Cassirer considered Sweden too unsafe, he applied for a post at Harvard University, but was rejected because thirty years earlier he had rejected a job offer from them. In 1941 he became a visiting professor at Yale University, then moved to Columbia University in New York City, where he lectured from 1943 until his death in 1945.
Cassirer died of a heart attack in April 1945 in New York City. His grave is located in Westwood, New Jersey, on the Cedar Park Beth-El Cemeteries in the graves of the Congregation Habonim. His son, Heinz Cassirer, was also a Kantian scholar.
Donald Phillip Verene, who published some of Cassirer's papers kept at Yale University, gave this overview of his ideas:
"Cassirer as a thinker became an embodiment of Kantian principles, but also of much more, of an overall movement of spirit stretching from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, and on to Herder’s conception of history, Goethe’s poetry, Wilhelm von Humboldt’s study of the Kavi language, Schelling’s Philosophie Der Mythologie, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, and Vischer’s conception of the aesthetic symbol, among many others. Cassirer’s own position is born through a mastery of the whole development of this world of the humanistic understanding, which included the rise of the scientific world view — a mastery evident both in his historical works and in his systematic philosophy."
Cassirer's first major published writings were a history of modern thought from the Renaissance to Kant. In accordance with his Marburg neo-Kantianism he concentrated upon epistemology. His reading of the scientific revolution, in books such as The Individual and the Cosmos in Renaissance Philosophy (1927), as a "Platonic" application of mathematics to nature, influenced historians such as E. A. Burtt, E. J. Dijksterhuis, and Alexandre Koyré.
In Substance and Function (1910), he writes about late nineteenth-century developments in physics including relativity theory and the foundations of mathematics. In Einstein's Theory of Relativity (1921) he defended the claim that modern physics supports a neo-Kantian conception of knowledge. He also wrote a book about Quantum mechanics called Determinism and Indeterminism in Modern Physics (1936).
At Hamburg Cassirer discovered the Library of the Cultural Sciences founded by Aby Warburg. Warburg was an art historian who was particularly interested in ritual and myth as sources of surviving forms of emotional expression. In Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1923–29) Cassirer argues that man (as he put it in his more popular 1944 book Essay on Man) is a "symbolic animal". Whereas animals perceive their world by instincts and direct sensory perception, humans create a universe of symbolic meanings. Cassirer is particularly interested in natural language and myth. He argues that science and mathematics developed from natural language, and religion and art from myth.
In 1929 Cassirer took part in an historically significant encounter with Martin Heidegger in Davos. Cassirer argues that while Kant's Critique of Pure Reason emphasizes human temporality and finitude, he also sought to situate human cognition within a broader conception of humanity. Cassirer challenges Heidegger's relativism by invoking the universal validity of truths discovered by the exact and moral sciences.
Cassirer believed that reason's self-realization leads to human liberation. Mazlish (2000), however, notes that Cassirer in his The Philosophy of the Enlightenment (1932) focuses exclusively on ideas, ignoring the political and social context in which they were produced.
In The Logic of the Cultural Sciences (1942) Cassirer argues that objective and universal validity can be achieved not only in the sciences, but also in practical, cultural, moral, and aesthetic phenomena. Although inter-subjective objective validity in the natural sciences derives from universal laws of nature, Cassirer asserts that an analogous type of inter-subjective objective validity takes place in the cultural sciences.
Cassirer's last work, The Myth of the State (1946), was published posthumously; at one level it is an attempt to understand the intellectual origins of Nazi Germany. Cassirer sees Nazi Germany as a society in which the dangerous power of myth is not checked or subdued by superior forces. The book discusses the opposition of logos and mythos in Greek thought, Plato's Republic, the medieval theory of the state, Machiavelli, Thomas Carlyle's writings on hero worship, the racial theories of Arthur de Gobineau, and Hegel. Cassirer claimed that in 20th century politics there was a return, with the passive acquiescence of Martin Heidegger, to the irrationality of myth, and in particular to a belief that there is such a thing as destiny. Of this passive acquiescence, Cassirer says that in departing from Husserl's belief in an objective, logical basis for philosophy, Heidegger attenuated the ability of philosophy to oppose the resurgence of myth in German politics of the 1930s.
1923 in philosophy1944 in philosophy
1944 in philosophy1945 in philosophy
1945 in philosophyAnimal symbolicum
Animal symbolicum ("symbol-making" or "symbolizing animal") is a definition for humans proposed by the German neo-Kantian Ernst Cassirer.
The tradition since Aristotle has defined a human being as animal rationale (a rational animal). However, Cassirer claimed that man's outstanding characteristic is not in his metaphysical or physical nature, but rather in his work. Humanity cannot be known directly, but has to be known through the analysis of the symbolic universe that man has created historically. Thus man should be defined as animal symbolicum (a symbol-making or symbolizing animal).
On this basis, Cassirer sought to understand human nature by exploring symbolic forms in all aspects of a human being's experience. His work is represented in his three-volume Philosophie der Symbolischen Formen (1923–9, translated as The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms) and is summarized in his An Essay on Man. W. J. T. Mitchell used this term in his essay on "representation" to say that
"man, for many philosophers both ancient and modern, is the "representational animal," homo symbolicum [sic], the creature whose distinctive character is the creation and manipulation of signs - things that stand for or take the place of something else."Cassirer
Cassirer is a German surname. Notable people with the surname include:
Richard Cassirer (1868–1925), German neurologist
Paul Cassirer (1871–1926), German art dealer and editor
Bruno Cassirer (1872–1941), German publisher and gallery owner in Berlin
Ernst Cassirer (1874–1945), German-Jewish philosopher
Fritz Cassirer (1871–1926), German conductor
Heinz Cassirer (1903–1979), German philosopher
Wilfred Cass, born Wolfgang Cassirer (born 1924), Founder of Cass Sculpture FoundationCassirer–Heidegger debate
The Cassirer–Heidegger debate is an encounter between Martin Heidegger and Ernst Cassirer in March 1929 in Davos, Switzerland concerning the significance of Kantian notions of freedom and rationality.
Cassirer argues that while Kant's Critique of Pure Reason emphasizes human temporality and finitude, he also sought to situate human cognition within a broader conception of humanity. Cassirer challenges Heidegger's relativism by invoking the universal validity of truths discovered by the exact and moral sciences.In Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos (Harvard University Press, 2010), Peter E. Gordon reconstructs the debate between Heidegger and Cassirer, demonstrating its significance as a point of rupture in Continental thought that implicated all the major philosophical movements of the day. Continental Divide was awarded the Jacques Barzun Prize from the American Philosophical Society in 2010.Davos University Conferences
The Davos University Conferences (French: Cours universitaires de Davos; German: Davoser Hochschulkurse) were a project between 1928 and 1931 to create an international university at Davos in Switzerland.Hamburg School of Art History
The so-called Hamburg School of Art History (Hamburger Schule der Kunstgeschichte) was a school of art historians primarily teaching at the University of Hamburg, who were closely connected with the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg (KBW) at the Warburg Haus, Hamburg. Its main members were scholars such as Aby Warburg, Erwin Panofsky, Fritz Saxl and Ernst Cassirer, who had been schooled to see images as cultural documents and inculcated in the investigation of pictorial types.The Hamburg School of Art History is celebrated for the theoretical interpretations of subject matter known as iconography and iconology. It was soon established and attracted brilliant students such as Edgar Wind, Hugo Buchthal, Adolf Katzenellenbogen, Walter Horn, Charles de Tolnay, Ludwig Heinrich Heydenreich, Lotte Brand Philip, William S. Heckscher, Klaus Hinrichsen, Liselotte Müller and H. W. Janson. The School had also an influence on Ernst Kris's psychological interests.Heinz Cassirer
Heinrich (Heinz) Walter Cassirer (9 August 1903 – 20 February 1979) was a Kantian philosopher, son of a famous German philosopher, Ernst Cassirer. Being Jews, the Cassirer family fled the Nazis in the 1930s. Heinz went to University of Glasgow working with Professor H. J. Paton, who persuaded him to write a book on Kant's third Critique, the Critique of Judgment. Following Paton, he moved to Oxford, lecturing at Corpus Christi College.
He was a noted scholar on the thought of Kant. He thought highly of Karl Barth's understanding of Kant. Cassirer, a "translator and interpret of Kant, is reliably reported to have asked, ‘Why is it that this Swiss theologian understands Kant far better than any philosopher I have come across?’" (Gunton 2002: xvi). While at Glasgow, his observations of society in Scotland led him to speak of "'Highland ravings' - the obsessive clinging on to what is wholly illusory" (Weitzman 1997: 30).
As a middle-aged adult, reading the New Testament for the first time, Cassirer was struck by the writings of St. Paul in relation to ethics. As he studied, he committed himself to the Christian faith and was baptized in the Anglican Church in 1955. He produced a translation of the New Testament from the Greek sources, titled God's New Covenant: A New Testament Translation. His translation is also noted for its formal language. Below is a sample passage, Matthew 7:24-25.
What, then, is the nature of the person, whoever he may be, who hears these words of mine and acts on them? He is like a man of prudence who built his house on a rock. The rain descended, the floodwaters rose, the winds blew and hurled themselves against that house. But it did not fall because it was on rock that its foundations were laid.Iyyun
Iyyun: The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly ("Iyyun" literally means "inquiry" or "study") is published by the S. H. Bergman Center for Philosophical Studies of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It was established in 1945 as a Hebrew philosophical quarterly by Martin Buber, S. H. Bergman, and Julius Guttmann. As of volume 39 (1990), Iyyun appears four times a year: January and July in English, April and October in Hebrew. Each English issue carries abstracts of the articles in the previous Hebrew issue.
Volume 1, no. 1 was published in October 1945, and it included papers by Ernst Cassirer, Felix Weltsch, Fritz Heinemann, Nathan Rotenstreich, and others. A double issue (vol. 1, nos. 2-3) followed in November 1946, and the fourth one appeared in July 1949, that is, from the end of World War II and through Israel's War of Independence. Ever since January 1951 (vol. 2, no. 1), Iyyun has appeared regularly.Jean Lacoste
Jean Lacoste (born 1950 in Paris) is a French-German philosopher, scholar and essayist. He is known for his research on Nietzsche, Goethe, Walter Benjamin and Ernst Cassirer. He is currently a philosophy professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure.Library of Living Philosophers
The Library of Living Philosophers is a series of books conceived of and started by Paul Arthur Schilpp in 1939; Schilpp remained editor until 1981. The series has since been edited by Lewis Edwin Hahn (1981-2001), Randall Auxier (2001-2013), and Douglas R. Anderson (2013-2015). The Library of Living Philosophers is currently edited by Sarah Beardsworth (2015-present). Each volume is devoted to a single living philosopher of note, and contains, alongside an "intellectual autobiography" of its subject and a complete bibliography, a collection of critical and interpretive essays by several dozen contemporary philosophers on aspects of the subject's work, with responses by the subject. The Library was originally conceived as a means by which a philosopher could reply to his or her interpreters while still alive, hopefully resolving endless philosophical disputes about what someone "really meant." While its success in this line has been questionable—a reply, after all, can stand just as much in need of interpretation as an original essay—the series has become a noted philosophical resource and the site of much significant contemporary argument.
The series was published by Northwestern University from its inception through 1949; by Tudor Publishing Co. from 1952 to 1959; and since then by Open Court. The series is owned by Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Subjects of the Library, to date, are:
John Dewey (1939)
George Santayana (1940)
Alfred North Whitehead (1941)
G. E. Moore (1942)
Bertrand Russell (1944)
Ernst Cassirer (1949)
Albert Einstein (1949)
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1952)
Karl Jaspers (1957)
C. D. Broad (1959)
Rudolf Carnap (1963)
Martin Buber (1967)
C. I. Lewis (1968)
Karl Popper (1974)
Brand Blanshard (1980)
Jean-Paul Sartre (1981)
Gabriel Marcel (1984)
W. V. Quine (1986)
Georg Henrik von Wright (1989)
Charles Hartshorne (1991)
A. J. Ayer (1992)
Paul Ricoeur (1995)
Paul Weiss (1995)
Hans-Georg Gadamer (1997)
Roderick Chisholm (1997)
P. F. Strawson (1998)
Donald Davidson (1999)
Seyyed Hossein Nasr (2000)
Marjorie Grene (2002)
Jaakko Hintikka (2006)
Michael Dummett (2007)
Richard Rorty (2010)
Arthur Danto (2013)
Hilary Putnam (2015)
Umberto Eco (2017)Volumes projected on as of 2015: Martha C. Nussbaum, and Julia KristevaMichael Friedman (philosopher)
Michael Friedman (born April 2, 1947) is an American philosopher of science, best known for his work on scientific explanation, philosophy of physics and Immanuel Kant. Friedman has also done important historical work on figures in Continental philosophy such as Martin Heidegger and Ernst Cassirer.Political myth
A political myth is an ideological narrative that is believed by social groups.
In 1975, Henry Tudor defined it in the book Political Myth. He said that myths are believed to be true even if they may be false, and they are devices with dramatic constructions used "in order to come to grips with reality". Political myths simply deal with political topics and always use a group of people as the hero or protagonist. In 2001, Christopher G. Flood described a working definition of a political myth as "an ideologically marked narrative which purports to give a true account of a set of past, present, or predicted political events and which is accepted as valid in its essentials by a social group".Examples cited as political myths include Manifest Destiny, The Clash of Civilizations, and national myths.In 1946 Ernst Cassirer recounted political theory in his The Myth of the State.In 1973, T. L. Thorson wrote in the 4th edition of A History of Political Theory: "It is the mark of a modern mind to be able to explicitly create a 'myth' as a way of influencing others (as, for example, Plato does in The Republic). In its original sense myth is a literal description."Susanne Langer
Susanne Katherina Langer (; née Knauth; December 20, 1895 – July 17, 1985) was an American philosopher, writer, and educator and was well known for her theories on the influences of art on the mind. She was one of the first women in American history to achieve an academic career in philosophy and the first woman to be popularly and professionally recognized as an American philosopher. Langer is best known for her 1942 book entitled, Philosophy in a New Key. In 1960, Langer was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.University of Hamburg
The University of Hamburg (German: Universität Hamburg, also referred to as UHH) is a comprehensive university in Hamburg, Germany. It was founded on 28 March 1919, having grown out of the previous General lecture system (Allgemeines Vorlesungswesen) and the Colonial Institute of Hamburg (Hamburgisches Kolonialinstitut) as well as the Akademic Gymnasium. In spite of its relatively short history, six Nobel Prize Winners and serials of scholars are affiliated to the university. The University of Hamburg is the biggest research and education institution in Northern Germany and one of the most extensive universities in Germany. The main campus is located in the central district of Rotherbaum, with affiliated institutes and research centres spread around the city state.
The institution is classified as a global top 200 university by frequently cited ranking systems such as the Times Higher Education Ranking, the Shanghai Ranking and the CWTS Leiden Ranking, placing it among the top 1% of global universities.On a national scale, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHH 7th and QS World University Rankings 14th out of a total of 426 German institutions of higher education.Warburg Haus, Hamburg
The Warburg Haus, Hamburg is a German interdisciplinary forum for art history and cultural sciences and primarily for political iconography. It is dedicated to the life and work of Aby Warburg and run by the University of Hamburg as a semi-independent seminar. "It issues a series of art historical publications directly modeled on the original institution's studies and lectures, and is a sponsor of the reprinted 'Study Edition' released through the Akademie Verlag in Berlin."Built in 1926 for the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg (KBW) in Heilwigstraße 116, Eppendorf, Hamburg, the Warburg Haus was a center of interdisciplinary research and global exchange in the humanities during the Weimar Republic.The Warburg Haus helped to shape the thought and work of some of the greatest scholars of the first half of the twentieth century, from Fritz Saxl and Erwin Panofsky to Ernst Cassirer. In 1933, the house was closed and its library shipped to London in order to escape the clutches of the Nazis. The original library is now part of the Warburg Institute in London.
In 1993, the house was acquired by the city of Hamburg and renovated. Since 1995, the building of the "cultural studies library" is used for artistic and cultural research, and art historical seminars, workshops, and colloquiums. In 2001, the archive of the Hamburg-born art historian, William S. Heckscher (1904-1999), was shipped from Princeton to the Warburg Haus.For many years, the German art historian Martin Warnke directed the Center for Political Iconography at the Warburg Haus.Wilbur Marshall Urban
Wilbur Marshall Urban (1873–1952) was an American philosopher of language, influenced by Ernst Cassirer. He wrote also on religion, axiology, ethics and idealism.
|Concepts in religion|
|Conceptions of God|
|Existence of God|
|Problem of evil|
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