Peter E. Gordon
The Symbolic Construction of Reality: The Legacy of Ernst Cassirerby Jeffrey Andrew Barash
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In 1933 eminent philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1874–1945) fled Nazi Germany for the United States. His fame in Europe having already been established through a public debate with Martin Heidegger in 1929, Cassirer would go on to become a noteworthy influence on American culture. His most important early writings focused on the symbol and symbolic interaction, exploring how human cultures—from early myth-based ones to our own modern, scientifically oriented time—have used symbols to mediate the basic forms of experience. Following this work, Cassirer extended his insights to encompass a broad spectrum of philosophical themes: from investigations into Western epistemological and scientific traditions to aesthetics and the philosophy of history to anthropology and political philosophy. Reflecting this diversity in Cassirer’s own work, The Symbolic Construction of Reality collects eleven essays by a wide range of contributors from different fields. Each essay analyzes a different aspect of his legacy, reassessing its significance for our contemporary world and bringing much-needed attention to this seminal thinker.
"[A] welcome collection of essays on Cassirer."
“These essays focus upon the conflict between myth and enlightenment in the modern political world. This theme, so important in Cassirer’s later writings, has been largely overlooked in favor of purely theoretical readings of his philosophy. This collection corrects this view and shows that Cassirer’s approach to this topic offers a key to his thinking. The essays show that this topic has lost none of its relevance and that the opposition between Cassirer and Heidegger, which appears in a variety of sometimes unexpected constellations in the essays, was more than a matter of theoretical interpretation.”
“The Symbolic Construction of Reality is an extremely prestigious gathering of minds. The collected essays address two aspects of Cassirer’s central philosophical category, the symbol—first, the theory of the symbol itself in Cassirer’s thinking, and second, the ramifications of this theory, with particular reference to its philosophical implications and its relevance to history and politics. The contributors’ concern with the genesis and intellectual context of Cassirer’s thought makes this volume important to Cassirer experts as well as to those less familiar with his writings, and the high standards of argumentation and presentation on display ensure it will make a significant contribution to Cassirer studies and receive a warm welcome from a whole range of readers across the humanities.”
"Overall this is a stimulating volume and a significant contribution to the Cassirer renaissance."
- University of Chicago Press
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Meet the Author
Jeffrey Andrew Barash is the Professeur des Universités in the Department of Philosophy at the Université de Picardie in Amiens, France, and the author of several books, including Martin Heidegger and the Problem of Historical Meaning.
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