1st Edition

The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Volume 2 Mythical Thinking

By Ernst Cassirer Copyright 2020
    370 Pages
    by Routledge

    370 Pages
    by Routledge

    "The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms is one of the landmarks of twentieth century philosophy. Drawing from the influential work of Wilhelm Dilthey, it transformed neo-Kantianism into a new robust philosophy of culture. The second volume, on Mythical Thinking, analyzes the fundamental layers of perception and expression as well as the articulations with religion and the dialectic with other forms, essentially language and art.

    The intellectual breadth of the volume is remarkable. It initiated the debate with Martin Heidegger and prompted a long-lasting meditation by Hans Blumenberg. We are only beginning to recognize its importance for our understanding of the power of images in the construction of aesthetics, the self, and the socio-political world. It initiated a discussion within French sociology (Émile Durkheim, Marcel Mauss) that ultimately resurfaced in Pierre Bourdieu, while today it is considered as a resourceful path for cultural and critical theory (Drucilla Cornell and Kenneth M. Panfilio). Finally, this volume also offers solid grounds for a political critique of Nazism - specifically: Alfred Rosenberg’s Myth of the 20th Century and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf - as well as the new emerging totalitarian ideologies."
    Fabien Capeilleres, Professor of Philosophy, editor of the French edition of Cassirer’s Works.

    This new translation makes Cassirer’s seminal work available to a new generation of scholars. Each volume includes a translator’s introduction by Steve G. Lofts, a foreword by Peter E. Gordon, a glossary of key terms, and an index.

    Foreword Peter E. Gordon;  Translator’s Preface Steve G. Lofts;  Translator’s Introduction: A Transcendental Critique of Mythical-Religious Consciousness: Identity-Thinking, the Natural Attitude, and an Immanence in the Sacred Sense of Life Steve G. Lofts; Translator’s Acknowledgements Steve G. Lofts;  Preface;  Introduction: The Problem of A "Philosophy of Mythology"  Part 1: Myth as Thought-Form  1. The Character and Basic Tendency of Mythical Object Consciousness  2. The Individual Categories of Mythical Thinking  Part 2: Myth as Form of Intuition: The Construction and Organization of the Spatialtemporal World in Mythical Consciousness  1. The Basic Opposition  2. The Basic Features of a Morphology of Myth: Space, Time, and Number  Part 3: Myth as Life-Form: The Discovery and Determination of Subjective Reality in Mythical Consciousness  1. The I and the Soul  2. The Forming Emergence of the Feeling of Self from the Mythical Feeling of Unity and Life  3. Cult and Sacrifice  Part 4: The Dialectic of Mythical ConsciousnessGlossary of German Terms; Index.


    Ernst Cassirer was born in Germany 1874 in the city of Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland). He taught at Hamburg University from 1919 to 1933, and then at All Souls College, Oxford, before emigrating to Sweden and then to the United States. Through its creative interpretation of Kant’s philosophy combined with a deep knowledge of the role of language and culture, Cassirer’s work is regarded as indispensable to understanding the relationship between the two major traditions in twentieth-century philosophy, the "analytic" and the "continental". Cassirer’s philosophy is unique, as it sought a common ground between the scientific and humanistic worldviews which frequently divided these two traditions, exemplified in his famous debate with Martin Heidegger at Davos in 1929. His work resulted in the monumental Philosophy of Symbolic Forms as well as several books on the philosophy of humanism and the Enlightenment. He taught at the universities of Yale and Columbia in the early 1940s and died in New York in 1945.

    Steve G. Lofts is Professor of Philosophy at King’s University College, Canada. He is the translator of Cassirer’s The Logic of the Cultural Sciences and The Warburg Years (1919-1933): Essays on Language, Art, Myth, and Technology.

    'The three volumes of The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms focus on language, myth, and science respectively, offering fascinating, if necessarily fragmentary and speculative, accounts of how each develops in the direction of increasing freedom and universality… the basic insight of The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms is one that continues to inform the humanities today. The categories we use to understand the world aren’t a passive reflection of the way things really are; rather, we actively create systems of meaning that evolve over time.' - Adam Kirsch, New York Review of Books