Abstracts Cassirer Studies II – 2009 – Theory of Figuration

Cassirer Studies II – 2009

Theory of Figuration, pp. 132 + III tavv. f.t.


F. Capeillères, “K” for “Kunst”. Cassirer’s pages on Art for PdsF IV. With a note on Francis Bacon

Through a reexamination of Cassirer’s manuscript on art, the author strives to develop the principles of a cassirerian aesthetics and exegesis of the works of art. The paper first addresses the transcendental mode of constitution of the work of art, art as a genuine process of objectivization. Then Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Crucifixion is submitted to an exegesis following these cassirerian principles. This example was chosen for the unarguable distance it bears with the usual cassierian examples, chosen within the realm of the Weimarer Klassik. It hence shows the validity and fertility of Cassirer’s aesthetics.

Key-words: Wölfflin – Panofsky – Bacon – art as symbolic form


W. Hofmann, Meine Wege zu Cassirer. Eine Skizze

The inclusion of mimesis in the cassirerian model of the three dimensions of figuration allows the author to dwell upon the symbolic nature of the work of art, in which form and “thingness” are superimposed as in a palimpsest, determining factual reality’s character as a “potential readymade”, which Lévi-Strauss defines as a “potential totem” of Gegenformen, and which the art of caricature, Gegenkunst par excellence, describes as the realm of double-sided figures, polymorphous, capable of changing into something else when the perception of expression, prevailing over the perception of things, determines the harmony of opposites that informs the world of meanings in which we live.

Key-words: potential totem – Selbstwiderspruch – Ausdruckswahrnehmung


A. Kremer Marietti, La philosophie comme science du symbolique
Proposing philosophy as the science of the symbolic, the author addresses the problem of how judgment can lean toward symbolism and/or schematism. The symbolic thought informing cognition may imply the enigma of the arrangement of logical signs, as identified by Husserl in his essays on semiotics. Improper representations may accompany concepts and may be used instead of concepts, because the représentations de substitution generate higher concepts, without allowing their content to be intuited. Through a word such as “transcendentality”, taken as symbol, what is to be seen is also a symbol of a law. Even if it places us at the core of the philosophical fiction, this word and its atemporal meaning can exert its power over our lives, since it belongs to the Symbolic.

Key-words: esthetical ideas or force of knowledge – rational ideas or power to know – transcendentality


Steve G. Lofts, “Who are we”?. Toward an Ontology of Sense

The primary purpose of this paper is to clarify the cassirerian project of symbolic forms as a theory of Gestaltung through an analysis of the three functions, Urphänomen des Ausdrucks, Darstellungsfunktion, reine Bedeutung in which the different modes of symbolic Gestaltung are to be situated. To this end, Cassirer’s concept of Gestalt and Gestaltung, following Cassirer’s own lead, is understood as a form of Structuralism avant la lettre. Our analysis is situated in the debate at the beginning of the twentieth century between Lebensphilosophie and transcendental philosophy around two competing notions of experience: Erlebnis and Erfahrung.

Key-words: Structuralism – Erlebnis – Erfahrung


C. Metta, A cassirerian-kleean casuistry of occurrences of “Form” and “Figure”

The distinction between the terms Form and Gestalt and that between Vorstellung and Darstellung, as they are functions of representation, refers to the difficulty in representing the continuum in its differential relation to the points it is composed of. The reference to infinitesimal calculus and the possibility to render time oscillation by means of spatial figuration accounts for the role of art in the configuration of reality, while the occurrences of the terms Form and Figur, and those of Vorstellung and Darstellung in Ernst Cassirer’s and Paul Klee’s thought account for their complementarity.

Key-words: Form – Gestalt – Figur

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