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Ernst Cassirer’s philosophy of culture has been much discussed in recent years. However, it remains unclear how it evolved from his older theory of knowledge. This study deals with this question on the basis of Cassirer’s ‘disposition’ of a ‘philosophy of the symbolic’, reconstructed here for the first time. This text shows that the ‘symbolic’ refers to culture as a whole and to its inherent diversity.
Therefore, ‘the symbolic’ includes the relationship between the general transcendental conditions of culture and its empirical specificities in language and languages, art and the arts, myth and myths, science and disciplines. Cassirer does not comprehend this empirical and specific reality of symbolization depending on pre-existing transcendental conditions. Instead, he proceeds from the empirical diversity of the symbolisations and reflects on their simultaneously general and specific conditions.
Thus, Cassirer embarks on a path that he finds paved in Kant’s "Critique of Judgement": He consequently defines ‘the symbolic’ as the horizon for a reflective approach based on empirical findings – and not as the foundation of a systematic derivation of the diversity of culture in the style of the idealistic tradition.
New insights into the transformation of Cassirer’s theory of knowledge into a philosophy of culture
Rethinks the relationship between Cassirer’s and Kant's philosophy by discussing the role of the "Critique of Judgment"
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