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(2012) Ernst Cassirer on form and technology, New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

Cave art as symbolic form

Mats Rosengren

pp. 214-232

In this text I will try to combine at least two, perhaps even three different interests. First, my curiosity as to how Cassirer's thought may prove its worth in helping to dissolve contemporary epistemological dead-ends; second, my long-time involvement with cave art studies and cave art; third, implicitly, my own doxological approach to contemporary theory of knowledge.1 I will try to achieve this combination by briefly presenting what I see as two major problems within the study of cave art: first, the ubiquitous urge for an origin and, second, what I am going to call the mimetic curse in cave art studies; I will then proceed to show that Cassirer's ideas about symbolic forms and, more specifically, his philosophy of technology may help us to dissolve these problems, focusing mainly on his concept of "organ-projection' and on the notion of symbolic forms understood as ever-changing ways to produce human reality; finally, I will comment upon the topicality of both Cassirer's thoughts and of cave art. My aim is to show that Cassirer's notions of technology and of symbolic forms may, to a certain extent, provide a new conceptual (and as it were doxological) framework for cave art studies, within which the centennial question of the sense of the traces found in the caves could be addressed anew in a productive way.

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Full citation:

Rosengren, M. (2012)., Cave art as symbolic form, in A. Sissel Hoel & I. Folkvord (eds.), Ernst Cassirer on form and technology, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 214-232.

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