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.
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 New Statesman.
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
What People are Saying About This
John Michael Krois
A major accomplishment and an excellent introduction to Cassirer's philosophy. Most important, Skidelsky shows that Cassirer did not simply align himself with the tradition of German political thought reaching from Humboldt and Goethe to the later Thomas Mann, but that his entire philosophy was actually subservient to the project of rethinking the basis of political liberalism. Skidelsky overturns the widely accepted view that Cassirer was an apolitical epistemologist. John Michael Krois, author of "Cassirer: Symbolic Forms and History"
It is remarkable that, until now, we have lacked a comprehensive intellectual biography of Ernst Cassirer in English. Skidelsky's accomplished study marvelously fills this void. His writing is refreshingly lucid; he provides a penetrating and insightful reconstruction of Cassirer's intellectual path. Richard Wolin, author of "The Seduction of Unreason"
Skidelsky's study of one of the great neglected twentieth-century theorists of culture and politics is welcome and timely. Subtle, erudite, and penetrating in its insights, Ernst Cassirer: The Last Philosopher of Culture will be compelling to anyone interested in the contradictions of modern culture and the future of liberal values. John Gray, Emeritus Professor of European Thought, University of London
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