The Symbolic Construction of RealityThe Legacy of Ernst Cassirer

The Symbolic Construction of RealityThe Legacy of Ernst Cassirer

Jeffrey Andrew Barash

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226036861

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


In 1933, eminent philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1874–1945) fled Nazi Germany for the United States. His fame in Europe having already been established through a public debate with Martin Heidegger in 1929, he would go on to become a noteworthy influence on American culture. Cassirer's most important early writings focused on the symbol and symbolic interaction, exploring how human cultures—from early myth-based ones to our own modern, scientifically oriented time—have used symbols to mediate the basic forms of experience. Following this work, Cassirer extended his insights to encompass a broad spectrum of philosophical themes: from investigations into Western epistemological and scientific traditions to aesthetics and the philosophy of history to anthropology and political philosophy. Reflecting this diversity in Cassirer's own work, this book collects eleven essays by a wide range of contributors from different fields. Each essay analyzes a different aspect of Cassirer's legacy, reassessing its significance for our contemporary world and bringing attention to this seminal thinker.