The Warburg Years (1919-1933)

The Warburg Years (1919-1933): Essays on Language, Art, Myth, and Technology

Ernst Cassirer
Translated and with an Introduction by S. G. Lofts
with A. Calcagno
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 424
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  • Book Info
    The Warburg Years (1919-1933)
    Book Description:

    Jewish German philosopher Ernst Cassirer was a leading proponent of the Marburg school of neo-Kantianism. The essays in this volume provide a window into Cassirer's discovery of the symbolic nature of human existence-that our entire emotional and intellectual life is configured and formed through the originary expressive power of word and image, that it is in and through the symbolic cultural systems of language, art, myth, religion, science, and technology that human life realizes itself and attains not only its form, its visibility, but also its reality. Thought and being are set in opposition and united in genuine correspondence by the symbolic strife between them that Cassirer callsAuseinandersetzung,which determines the ethical relationship of the self to the other.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-20726-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Translators’ Introduction
    (pp. ix-xxxiv)

    The initial impetus for this collection of essays by Ernst Cassirer was provided by the enthusiastic encouragement of John Michael Krois, to whom the volume is dedicated. Initially assisting with the selection of essays to be included here, Professor Krois was very generous with his time and knowledge of Cassirer’s philosophy throughout the manuscript’s preparation. All of the translations have benefited from discussions with him over the years about Cassirer’s philosophy and technical vocabulary, the challenges of rendering Cassirer’s thought into contemporary English, and how Cassirer himself might have wanted his work to be translated. Krois worked extensively on the...

  4. The Form of the Concept in Mythical Thinking (1922)
    (pp. 1-71)

    The following study is an extended version of a paper given at the Society for Religious Studies in Hamburg in July 1921. A separate publication of this lecture was not originally intended, as I was fully aware that the problem it addresses belongs to a larger network of issues from which it would be difficult to detach it. If I have now decided to write this paper, I implore the reader to view the following merely as a first draft and sketch, which can achieve a more detailed implementation only within the presentation of a set of broader problems. The...

  5. The Concept of Symbolic Form in the Construction of the Human Sciences (1923)
    (pp. 72-100)

    If I dare to attempt in the purview of these lectures to deal with a topic that is neither historical nor specific to the sciences of culture, but is of a systematic-philosophical nature and therefore would appear to go beyond the sphere of problems that the Warburg Library sets for itself, then such an attempt needs to be accounted for and justified. I believe I can provide this justification in no better way than to speak of the personal impression that I received in my first true encounter with the Warburg Library. The questions that I would like to treat...

  6. The Kantian Elements in Wilhelm von Humboldt’s Philosophy of Language (1923)
    (pp. 101-129)

    The groundwork of critical philosophy includes not only an altered determination of the relationship of knowledge [Wissen] toward the object but also a new conceptual determination of knowing. Both essential moments of knowledge [Wissen] can themselves be combined in the demand for its objectivity and its encompassing unity. Its unity, like its objectivity, however, is now enriched and grounded in a completely new way in opposition to a dogmatic way of thinking. Just as the object is based upon and measured by knowledge, it obtains an authentic inner multiplicity by virtue of the multiplicity of the principles of knowledge—thus,...

  7. Language and Myth: A Contribution to the Problem of the Names of the Gods (1924)
    (pp. 130-213)

    The beginning of Plato’sPhaedrusdepicts how Socrates is lured into conversation by Phaedrus, whom he encounters outside the gates of the city on the banks of the Ilissus. The landscape that Plato lays out in this scene is depicted in the finest detail—this presentation emits a radiance and fragrance that we rarely see in the usual classical portrayals of nature. Socrates and Phaedrus sit down under the shade of a tall plane tree, at the edge of a cool spring; the summer breeze is mild and sweet and filled with the chirping of cicadas. In this setting, Phaedrus...

  8. Eidos and Eidolon: The Problem of Beauty and Art in the Dialogues of Plato (1924)
    (pp. 214-243)

    If we can measure the greatness of a thinker by the vast opposition that envelops his thinking, forcing it into a unity, then certainly Plato belongs to a clearly unique phenomenon in the history of spirit. All the problems with which Greek philosophy had up until then wrestled are organized by Plato into a completely new tension and seen with a very different intensity. If we compare Plato’s world with the image of the cosmos sketched out by Pre-Socratic philosophy, we sense that the latter, in the overall manifold of its configurations, still adhered to a certain simplicity, a certain...

  9. The Meaning of the Problem of Language for the Emergence of Modern Philosophy (1927)
    (pp. 244-253)

    If we take as fixed and generally valid the traditional claim that the history of modern philosophy begins with Descartes, if we see in his seminal methodological works the first characteristic expression of the modern mode of philosophical thought, then this beginning exists and indeed this mode of thought embodies itself here for the first time in a closedsystem. This system, as well as the fundamental philosophical theory of Descartes, stands before us without historical presuppositions or ties, arising as if from nowhere. It consciously cuts every interconnection with the past; it wants to stand on its own and...

  10. The Problem of the Symbol and Its Place in the System of Philosophy (1927)
    (pp. 254-271)

    In philosophical essays written for the occasion of Eduard Zellers’s fiftieth doctoral anniversary about forty years ago, Friedrich Theodor Vischer focused attention on theconcept of the symbol, which he had previously treated extensively in his aesthetics. On that occasion, he described this concept as a mutating Proteus, difficult to come to grips with and confine. In fact, there is probably no other concept in aesthetics that has proven to be so rich, so fruitful, and to have had so many applications as this one. There is, however, also almost no other that is so difficult to contain within the...

  11. Form and Technology (1930)
    (pp. 272-316)

    If we judge thesignificationof the individual subdomains of human culture primarily by their actualeffectiveness, if we determine the value of these domains according to the magnitude of their directaccomplishments, there can hardly be any doubt that bythismeasure technology claims first place in the construction of our contemporary culture. Likewise, no matter whether we reproach or praise, exalt or damn this “primacy of technology,” its pure factuality seems to be beyond question. All the forces of configuration in contemporary culture are increasingly concentrated on this one point. Even the strongestcounterforcesto technology, even those...

  12. Mythic, Aesthetic, and Theoretical Space (1931)
    (pp. 317-333)

    When we consider the position that the problem of space and time occupies in the whole oftheoretical knowledge, and when we look back at the role that this problem has played in the historical and systematic development of the fundamental questions of knowledge, a characteristic and decisively essential element immediately emerges. When we grasp them solely asobjects[Objekte] of knowledge, space and time occupy a special and outstanding position; they form within the architectonic structure of knowledge the two basic pillars that support and hold together the whole of knowledge. Their deeper signification, however, is not exhausted in...

  13. Language and the Construction of the World of Objects (1932)
    (pp. 334-362)

    If we consider all the functions, which in their union and mutual penetration construct the figure of our psychological and spiritual reality, atwofoldway of theoretically interpreting these functions presents itself. We can see in them an essentiallyimitativeand, thus, secondary achievement or anarchetypicaland, thus, original achievement. In the first case, we assume that the world, the “reality” to which these functions refer as their object [Objekt], is alreadygivenas completed in its being as well as its structure—and it only remains for the human mind simply to takepossessionof this given reality....

  14. Glossary of German Terms
    (pp. 363-376)
  15. Index
    (pp. 377-385)