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


Aud Sissel Hoel, Ingvild Folkvord

pp. 1-12

There seems to be a Cassirer revival going on. In Germany, especially, the number of dissertations treating Ernst Cassirer's philosophy, and his philosophy of symbolic forms in particular, is increasing every year. The same trend can be seen in the Anglophone world, where new books on and new translations of Cassirer are coming out every year. Why this renewed interest, one is tempted to ask, and why now? Certainly, there are historical reasons. More and more people have come to realize that Ernst Cassirer – a distinguished philosopher of the German idealist tradition, admirer of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, pronounced supporter of the Weimar Republic and a cosmopolitan liberal of Jewish background who at the height of his career had to leave his position and flee the Nazis – has not received the attention he rightfully deserves. What incites the present revival, however, is not merely an urge to raise a monument to a great thinker. It is spurred, rather, by pressing current concerns, such as the vacuum left by the receding paradigm of poststructuralism in the cultural sciences, or by the onslaught, across disciplines, of new reductive biologisms in the wake of the recent proliferation of evolutionary psychology and related gene-centred approaches. Furthermore, it is prompted by the way that Cassirer's philosophy of symbolic forms provides rich and still untapped resources for the ongoing attempts to bridge unproductive intellectual gaps. Cassirer's thinking is unique in the way that it endeavours to integrate logical concerns, championed by scientifically oriented philosophers, with the concerns of the historical and cultural sciences.

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Full citation:

Sissel Hoel, A. , Folkvord, I. (2012)., Introduction, in A. Sissel Hoel & I. Folkvord (eds.), Ernst Cassirer on form and technology, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-12.

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