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Ernst Cassirer: The Last Philosopher of Culture

Overview

This is the first English-language intellectual biography of the German-Jewish philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945), a leading figure on the Weimar intellectual scene and one of the last and finest representatives of the liberal-idealist tradition. Edward Skidelsky traces the development of Cassirer's thought in its historical and intellectual setting. He presents Cassirer, the author of The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, as a defender of the liberal ideal of culture in an increasingly fragmented world, and as ...

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Ernst Cassirer: The Last Philosopher of Culture

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Overview

This is the first English-language intellectual biography of the German-Jewish philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945), a leading figure on the Weimar intellectual scene and one of the last and finest representatives of the liberal-idealist tradition. Edward Skidelsky traces the development of Cassirer's thought in its historical and intellectual setting. He presents Cassirer, the author of The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, as a defender of the liberal ideal of culture in an increasingly fragmented world, and as someone who grappled with the opposing forces of scientific positivism and romantic vitalism. Cassirer's work can be seen, Skidelsky argues, as offering a potential resolution to the ongoing conflict between the "two cultures" of science and the humanities—and between the analytic and continental traditions in philosophy. The first comprehensive study of Cassirer in English in two decades, this book will be of great interest to analytic and continental philosophers, intellectual historians, political and cultural theorists, and historians of twentieth-century Germany.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement
As Edward Skidelsky points out in his magnificent new account of Cassirer's intellectual development, 'cut off from their own religious traditions, yet denied full participation in civic life, assimilated German Jews embraced their host nation's philosophy, literature, and music with a fervour rooted in anxiety.'
— Stephen Gaukroger
Journal of European Studies
When a scholarly commentator on Cassirer suddenly turns against him, we should sit up and pay attention.
— Paul Bishop
Metaphilosophy
Edward Skidelsky's Ernst Cassirer: The Last Philosopher of Culture is a much-needed critical overview of Cassirer's life and work from a contemporary Anglophone perspective.
— Russell B. Goodman
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
[This] is surely the best one-volume intellectual portrait of Cassirer one could hope to read in the English language.
— Peter E. Gordon
European Legacy
Skidelsky's book is a must read for those interested in the history of ideas in general and for academic philosophers in particular. Indeed, philosophers, particularly of the Anglo-American variety, will find this book especially enlightening.
— Kevin Aho
Times Literary Supplement - Stephen Gaukroger
As Edward Skidelsky points out in his magnificent new account of Cassirer's intellectual development, 'cut off from their own religious traditions, yet denied full participation in civic life, assimilated German Jews embraced their host nation's philosophy, literature, and music with a fervour rooted in anxiety.'
London Review of Books - David Simpson
Skidelsky gives a close, technical account of the ways in which Cassirer was never just a Marburg School stereotype; but he aligned himself neither with the logical positivists nor with the Heideggerian, existentialist tradition which between them carved up the field of 20th-century philosophy, as they arguably continue to do.
Radical Philosophy - Craig Brandist
Skidelsky should be congratulated for presenting us with an extremely readable and compelling account of Cassirer's work, delivering it from the stratospheric abstractness of the Marburg School and revealing a dynamic and engaging thinker who was open to every philosophical innovation.
Journal of European Studies - Paul Bishop
When a scholarly commentator on Cassirer suddenly turns against him, we should sit up and pay attention.
Metaphilosophy - Russell B. Goodman
Edward Skidelsky's Ernst Cassirer: The Last Philosopher of Culture is a much-needed critical overview of Cassirer's life and work from a contemporary Anglophone perspective.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews - Peter E. Gordon
[This] is surely the best one-volume intellectual portrait of Cassirer one could hope to read in the English language.
Choice - R.E. Kraft
Ernst Cassirer was a pivotal figure for a generation of philosophers, and his evolving application of Kant to the problems of philosophy is overdue for a serious revival of interest. Skidelsky does yeoman's work here in sifting through Cassirer's work in relation to the conflicting tensions of positivism and the phenomenological turn in Continental philosophy. This volume is an apt presentation of the impact of theoretical differences upon a whole host of philosophical stances. Further, Skidelsky's self-proclaimed skepticism of the extent to which Cassirer was able to eventually defend his metaphysical and political positions is refreshing.
European Legacy - Kevin Aho
Skidelsky's book is a must read for those interested in the history of ideas in general and for academic philosophers in particular. Indeed, philosophers, particularly of the Anglo-American variety, will find this book especially enlightening.
Choice - R. E. Kraft
Ernst Cassirer was a pivotal figure for a generation of philosophers, and his evolving application of Kant to the problems of philosophy is overdue for a serious revival of interest. Skidelsky does yeoman's work here in sifting through Cassirer's work in relation to the conflicting tensions of positivism and the phenomenological turn in Continental philosophy. This volume is an apt presentation of the impact of theoretical differences upon a whole host of philosophical stances. Further, Skidelsky's self-proclaimed skepticism of the extent to which Cassirer was able to eventually defend his metaphysical and political positions is refreshing.
From the Publisher
"As Edward Skidelsky points out in his magnificent new account of Cassirer's intellectual development, 'cut off from their own religious traditions, yet denied full participation in civic life, assimilated German Jews embraced their host nation's philosophy, literature, and music with a fervour rooted in anxiety.'"—Stephen Gaukroger, Times Literary Supplement

"Skidelsky gives a close, technical account of the ways in which Cassirer was never just a Marburg School stereotype; but he aligned himself neither with the logical positivists nor with the Heideggerian, existentialist tradition which between them carved up the field of 20th-century philosophy, as they arguably continue to do."—David Simpson, London Review of Books

"Skidelsky should be congratulated for presenting us with an extremely readable and compelling account of Cassirer's work, delivering it from the stratospheric abstractness of the Marburg School and revealing a dynamic and engaging thinker who was open to every philosophical innovation."—Craig Brandist, Radical Philosophy

"[E]legant prose and clarity in explaining complex ideas."Jewish Quarterly

"When a scholarly commentator on Cassirer suddenly turns against him, we should sit up and pay attention."—Paul Bishop, Journal of European Studies

"Edward Skidelsky's Ernst Cassirer: The Last Philosopher of Culture is a much-needed critical overview of Cassirer's life and work from a contemporary Anglophone perspective."—Russell B. Goodman, Metaphilosophy

"[This] is surely the best one-volume intellectual portrait of Cassirer one could hope to read in the English language."—Peter E. Gordon, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Ernst Cassirer was a pivotal figure for a generation of philosophers, and his evolving application of Kant to the problems of philosophy is overdue for a serious revival of interest. Skidelsky does yeoman's work here in sifting through Cassirer's work in relation to the conflicting tensions of positivism and the phenomenological turn in Continental philosophy. This volume is an apt presentation of the impact of theoretical differences upon a whole host of philosophical stances. Further, Skidelsky's self-proclaimed skepticism of the extent to which Cassirer was able to eventually defend his metaphysical and political positions is refreshing."—R. E. Kraft, Choice

"Skidelsky's book is a must read for those interested in the history of ideas in general and for academic philosophers in particular. Indeed, philosophers, particularly of the Anglo-American variety, will find this book especially enlightening."—Kevin Aho, European Legacy

Jewish Quarterly
[E]legant prose and clarity in explaining complex ideas.
London Review of Books
Skidelsky gives a close, technical account of the ways in which Cassirer was never just a Marburg School stereotype; but he aligned himself neither with the logical positivists nor with the Heideggerian, existentialist tradition which between them carved up the field of 20th-century philosophy, as they arguably continue to do.
— David Simpson
Choice
Ernst Cassirer was a pivotal figure for a generation of philosophers, and his evolving application of Kant to the problems of philosophy is overdue for a serious revival of interest. Skidelsky does yeoman's work here in sifting through Cassirer's work in relation to the conflicting tensions of positivism and the phenomenological turn in Continental philosophy. This volume is an apt presentation of the impact of theoretical differences upon a whole host of philosophical stances. Further, Skidelsky's self-proclaimed skepticism of the extent to which Cassirer was able to eventually defend his metaphysical and political positions is refreshing.
— R. E. Kraft
Radical Philosophy
Skidelsky should be congratulated for presenting us with an extremely readable and compelling account of Cassirer's work, delivering it from the stratospheric abstractness of the Marburg School and revealing a dynamic and engaging thinker who was open to every philosophical innovation.
— Craig Brandist
Choice

Ernst Cassirer was a pivotal figure for a generation of philosophers, and his evolving application of Kant to the problems of philosophy is overdue for a serious revival of interest. Skidelsky does yeoman's work here in sifting through Cassirer's work in relation to the conflicting tensions of positivism and the phenomenological turn in Continental philosophy. This volume is an apt presentation of the impact of theoretical differences upon a whole host of philosophical stances. Further, Skidelsky's self-proclaimed skepticism of the extent to which Cassirer was able to eventually defend his metaphysical and political positions is refreshing.
— R. E. Kraft
London Review of Books

Skidelsky gives a close, technical account of the ways in which Cassirer was never just a Marburg School stereotype; but he aligned himself neither with the logical positivists nor with the Heideggerian, existentialist tradition which between them carved up the field of 20th-century philosophy, as they arguably continue to do.
— David Simpson
Times Literary Supplement

As Edward Skidelsky points out in his magnificent new account of Cassirer's intellectual development, 'cut off from their own religious traditions, yet denied full participation in civic life, assimilated German Jews embraced their host nation's philosophy, literature, and music with a fervour rooted in anxiety.'
— Stephen Gaukroger
Journal of European Studies

When a scholarly commentator on Cassirer suddenly turns against him, we should sit up and pay attention.
— Paul Bishop
Radical Philosophy

Skidelsky should be congratulated for presenting us with an extremely readable and compelling account of Cassirer's work, delivering it from the stratospheric abstractness of the Marburg School and revealing a dynamic and engaging thinker who was open to every philosophical innovation.
— Craig Brandist
Jewish Quarterly

[E]legant prose and clarity in explaining complex ideas.
European Legacy

Skidelsky's book is a must read for those interested in the history of ideas in general and for academic philosophers in particular. Indeed, philosophers, particularly of the Anglo-American variety, will find this book especially enlightening.
— Kevin Aho
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

[This] is surely the best one-volume intellectual portrait of Cassirer one could hope to read in the English language.
— Peter E. Gordon
Metaphilosophy

Edward Skidelsky's Ernst Cassirer: The Last Philosopher of Culture is a much-needed critical overview of Cassirer's life and work from a contemporary Anglophone perspective.
— Russell B. Goodman
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691152356
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/13/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,406,812
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Edward Skidelsky is lecturer in philosophy at the University of Exeter, and a regular contributor to the British national press, including "Prospect", the "Daily Telegraph", and the N"ew Statesman".
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Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ix
Introduction 1
CHAPTER ONE: Prologue: The Alienation of Reason 9
CHAPTER TWO: The Marburg School 22
CHAPTER THREE: The New Logic 52
CHAPTER FOUR: Between Irony and Tragedy 71
CHAPTER FIVE: The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms 100
CHAPTER SIX: Logical Positivism 128
CHAPTER SEVEN: The Philosophy of Life 160
CHAPTER EIGHT: Heidegger 195
CHAPTER NINE: Politics 220
NOTES 239
BIBLIOGRAPHY 269
INDEX 281

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