Biography Of Ernst Cassirer Essay

1446 words - 6 pages

Biography of Ernst Cassirer

Ernst Cassirer (1874--1945) was a Jewish German intellectual historian and philosopher, the originator of the ``philosophy of symbolic forms.'' After a distinguished teaching career in Germany, he fled the Nazis, first to Oxford, then Goteborg, then finally Yale, which gives an annual series of lectures in philosophy in his honor; he died as a visiting professor at Columbia. Having read and admired his historical works, particularly The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, I was curious about his own doctrines. The summary of them included in his semi-historical book The Myth of the State left me quite confused: reading it gave me no sense of what a symbolic form was, except that it had something to do with what Kant called forms of apperception (no surprise: Cassirer was a neo-Kantian). Similarly, on that basis I couldn't have told you what Cassirer thought a myth was, though it had something to do with emotions whose ``motor-expressions'' were rituals.
Now, I don't think I'm a stupid man, or a bad reader. In the line of professional duty I've read a great deal on subjects which are fairly tricky conceptually, like mathematical logic and quantum field theory and learning theory, and it at least felt like I understood them. And I'm not normally blocked by dense prose, either. Nonetheless, what I got from those passages was a diffused feeling of frustrated incomprehension: there was something there, and I just wasn't getting it. (I may add that, pursuing my hobby of psychoceramics, I've read a great deal of dense prose where there really isn't anything to be grasped, and the difference is palpable.) Such befuddlement is, of course, the reason why introductory books are written, so I started looking around for an introduction to Cassirer. Lo: the man wrote one himself, An Essay on Man. The preface tells us it was intended for those who hadn't German enough to tackle the three volumes of his The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, supposedly even for those who aren't scholars. Having read it, matters are a bit clearer, but not much.

The start is good. There is, Cassirer declares, a ``crisis in man's knowledge of himself.'' I dare say it takes a philosopher, perhaps even a German philosopher, to deem the absence of an adequate and generally accepted philosophical anthropology a ``crisis,'' but this dramatization is harmless, and Cassirer has a real point.

No former age was ever in such a favorable position with regard to the sources of our knowledge of human nature. Psychology, ethnology, anthropology, and history have amassed an astonishingly rich and constantly increasing body of facts. Our technical instruments for observation and experimentation have been immensely improved, and our analyses have become sharper and more penetrating. We appear, nevertheless, not yet to have found a method for the mastery and organization of this material.... Unless we succeed in finding a clue of Ariadne to lead us out of this...

Find Another Essay On Biography of Ernst Cassirer

Dramatherapy in Sri Lanka Essay

4410 words - 18 pages . Revenge and punishment are also directed to the group as a whole" (Cassirer 1979). It is in this vein we could view Kuveni's curse on Vijaya and his clan. According to the Maha Vamsa (Great Chronicle - 543 BCE), Vijaya who came down from India married the Yakka princess Kuveni, and with her help vanquished Kuveni's people. Later, Vijaya betrayed Kuveni to bring down princesses for him and his people from North India. Kuveni became a victim of

Biography of John Steinbeck Essay

1226 words - 5 pages John Ernst Steinbeck Jr is one of America’s greatest novelists. Steinbeck was born February 27th, 1902 and died of a heart attack on December 20th, 1968.(nobel page 1) He is the son of John Steinbeck and Olive Hamilton. Steinbeck wrote 27 books. Some of his best known work includes Of Mice and Men (1937), The Long Valley (1938), and East of Eden (1962). Since Steinbeck was raised and grew up in the early 1900’s, his novels were greatly

Biography and Important Work of Johann Sebastian Bach

1672 words - 7 pages Johann Sebastian Bach Biography and Important Works Born on March 21, 1685, in Eisenach, Thuringia , Germany, Johann Sebastian Bach had a prestigious musical lineage and took on various organist posture during the early 18th century, creating famous compositions like \"Toccata and Fugue in D youngster .\" Some of his best-known compositions are the \"Mass in B Minor,\" the \"Brandenburg Concertos\" and \"The Well-Tempered Clavier.\" Bach died

of mice and men research paper

1688 words - 7 pages ." LitFinder Contemporary Collection. Detroit:Gale, 2010. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 12 Feb. 2012.Leaf, Jonathan. "Of Mice and Melodrama. New Criterion 26.4 (2007): 84+. AcademicOneFile. Web.22 Nov. 2011"John Ernst Steinbeck. "Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gail, 1998. AcademicOneFile. Web.22 Nov. 2011"Overview: In Dubious Battle." Gale Online Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale, 2012. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 12 Feb. 2012

Hopper and Kirchner: A Comparative View

1791 words - 7 pages Scholarly article used: Lucius Grisebach. "Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 29 Nov 2011. Levin, Gail. Edward Hopper : an intimate biography. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Biography of Gustav Klimt

777 words - 3 pages Biography of Gustav KlimtGustav Klimt lived from 1862 to 1928. He was born on July 14th of 1862. His parents were vagabonds, Ernst Klimt was his father and Anna Klimt (born as Finster) was his mother. Gustav was their second child.At the age of 14 he got a scholarship for the "Kunstgewerbeschule" (artwork school) in Vienna. He studies at his school until he is 21. Originally his parents and he himself paned for him to become a drawing teacher

The Horror of Genocide

1000 words - 4 pages disaster in the world. In his biography on Hitler, Schramm wrote that there is a theory explaining the reasons behind Hitler’s hatred towards Jews, he said that one of Hitler’s ancestors who was Jewish, “took advantage” of a small girl (51). This incident obviously made Hitler paranoid for the rest of his life making him hate and despise all Jews. He decided to kill them and looked for a better world where they won’t exist at all. Maybe if Hitler had

Kafka

918 words - 4 pages update]. Online. Available: http://members.xoom.com/danielhornek/. 1 Mar. 2000. Kafka, Leni. Biography. Hp. 2000 [last update]. Online. Available: http://victorian.fortunecity.com/vermeer/287/biography.htm. 2 Mar. 2000. Letter to His Father. Hp. 2000 [last update]. Online. Available: http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/vermeer/287/lettertohisfather.htm Magil, Frank N. ed. Franz Kafka. Vol. 4 of Critical Survey

The Life and Accomplishments of Tony Hsieh

1201 words - 5 pages regard for customer service. They value the quality time spent with customers over the phone rather than the quantity of customers. Currently, Zappos’ headquarters is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2009, the company was acquired by Amazon. Biography Tony Hsieh is a full-blooded Taiwanese but was born in the state of Illinois. He graduated from Harvard University with a degree in computer science. During his years in Harvard as a

Sigmund Freud

2101 words - 8 pages his time (Chiriac). He was instructed in a research program in medical school by a great physiology professor called Ernst Brucke (Chiriac). After finishing Medical School in Vienna, Freud married Martha Bernays, his long waited fiancé, in 1887 (Young). Out of the six children they had together, his daughter, Anna, became one of the most influenced and inspired people by her father and followed his footsteps (Jones). As Freud grew up, he

Adolph Hitler

1369 words - 5 pages . Works Cited www.biography.com, © 1996-2006 A&E Television Networks., Nov. 28, 2006 www2.ca.nizkor.org, " A Psychological Analysis of Adolph Hitler His Life and Legend," Prof. Henry A. Murr, Harvard Psychological Clinic, Dr. Ernst Kris, New School for Social Research, Dr. Bertram D. Lawin, New York Psychoanalytic Institute. Nov.28, 2006 www.suite101.com, "Poet Lowell's Methods, Hitler's Psychology Examined," Nov. 28, 2006 Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography, publisher Anchor; Reissue edition (December 1, 1991) Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil, publisher Harper Perennial; 1st Harper Perennial Ed edition (July 1, 1999)

Similar Essays

John Steinbeck Essay

1807 words - 8 pages copies of The Grapes of Wrath on the curb of the Salinas Public Library (“John Ernst Steinbeck’s Biography”). In 1940 after the great success of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck decided to travel to Mexico to study marine life and collect specimens with his friend, biologist and philosopher, Edward F. Ricketts. Ricketts was an important influence on Steinbeck and together the two men wrote Sea of Cortez, later published in 1951, about the wildlife of

A Retrospective On Rebirth Essay

1274 words - 5 pages forms (Matthews, Platt and Noble 312) Works Cited Brion, Marcel. The Medici, a great Florentine family. Trans. Gilles Cremonesi and Heather Cremonesi. 11th Edition. New York: Exeter Books, 1980. Cassirer, Ernst, Paul Oskar Kristeller and Jr, John Herman Herman, The Renaissance Philosophy of Man: Petrarca, Valla, Ficino, Pico, Pomponazzi, Vives (Phoenix Books). Trans. Josephine L. Burroughs. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1956

Faith And Reason In The Enlightenment

1639 words - 7 pages challenged people's beliefs of the combination and relationship of faith and reason and aided in the process of further educating many people throughout Europe. Works Cited: - Cassirer, Ernst. The Philosophy of the Enlightenment. Beacon Press. Boston. 1951. - Gay, Peter. The Enlightenment: The Science of Freedom. W.W. Norton and Company. New York. 1969. - Grossman, Lionel. French Society and Culture: Background for 18th Century Literature. Prentice-Hall, Inc. New Jersey. 1972. - Schneider, Isidor. The Enlightenment. George Braziller, Inc.

Rousseau's Discourse On The Arts And Sciences

1932 words - 8 pages his emotions. By claiming his right to emotion, Rousseau became estranged from both his contemporaries and his world. Historically, this estrangement remains. Rousseau has been claimed by both Fidel Castro and Jean Paul Marat as a true revolutionary and damned by the radical Frankfort School for his belief in individualism. Bertrand Russell calls him the father of Romanticism; Ernst Cassirer places him side by side with Kant in the heart of