Abstracts Cassirer Studies Vol. III – The Originary phenomena

Cassirer Studies III – 2010

The Originary phenomena


T.I. BAYER, The Problem of (Self)Knowledge: Kultur and Werk
In his theory of the basis phenomena in the fourth volume of the Philosophy
of Symbolic Forms, Cassirer connects the third basis phenomenon – that of the
work – to the ancient Socratic problem of self-knowledge. The self acquires
knowledge of its own nature by apprehending the various symbolic forms of
culture, which are made by the self. The self does not have a substantial nature
apart from what it produces as human culture. The self knows itself
through its distinctive cultural activity. It is, in fact, this activity itself. The
meaning of this activity is to be found in the phenomenon of the work, which
is the basis of culture. All forms of knowledge are the products of man as animal
symbolicum. Thus all forms of knowledge are in fact forms of self-knowledge.
Cassirer’s philosophy of self-knowledge is not achieved in a metaphysical
system in which all symbolic forms are absorbed into a single logical order.
Cassirer replaces the idea of philosophical system with that of “systematic
overview”. This approach allows the self access to its own activity in terms
of how symbols function in any given context without reducing the uniqueness
of the various contexts to something more universal.
Key-words: basis phenomena – self-knowledge – systematic overview – Werk

S.G. LOFTS, The Symbolic Auseinandersetzung of the Urphänomene of the Expression of Life
This paper explores Cassirer’s theory of the Urphänomene as a theory of the
symbolic expression of life and as an extension and development of his philosophy
of symbolic forms in response to the contemporary movement of Lebensphilosophie
in general and Heidegger in particular. The paper argues that
the theory of the Urphänomene is connected to “the great process of Auseinandersetzung”
that is undertaken by the symbolic forms. In part one, the
philosophical issues at stake in this debate between Cassirer and Heidegger
are set out in reference to the historical context of Cassirer’s engagement with
Lebensphilosophie. In part two, we consider the meaning and function of Auseinandersetzung
within Cassirer’s philosophy of symbolic forms. Finally, we
turn to an examination of how this Auseinandersetzung is grounded by Cassirer’s
later theory of the Urphänomene.
Key-words: Heidegger – originary phenomena – Auseinandersetzung – Urphänomen – Lebensphilosophie

CH. MÖCKEL, Cassirers “Basisphänomene” – eine Synthese von Goethes “Urphänomenen” und Carnaps “Basis” der Konstitutionssysteme?
This paper examines to what extent Ernst Cassirer, in choosing the fundamental
term “basis phenomena” – which is of crucial importance to a metaphysical
theory able to serve as a foundation for his philosophy of symbolic forms
–, is influenced by Goethe’s “primary phenomena” of artistic life-activity and
Carnap’s “bases of constitutional systems” for the concepts of empirical sciences,
that is, to what extent Cassirer unites both inspirations in his newly
coined term. Proofs for both influences considered are presented, sourced
from Goethe’s and Carnap’s writings as well as from Cassirer’s. Any doubt
about the close relationship of the terms “basis phenomena” and Goethe’s
“primary phenomena” is removed, and the connection with Carnap’s concept
of different “bases of constitutional systems” is shown to be at least highly
Key-words: expression – Basisphänomen – life – intellect – perception

D. PÄTZOLD, Ernst Cassirers Grundlegung der Kultur: Vom Apriorismus zu den Basisphänomenen
Cassirer’s revised version of Kantian apriori forms that we find in his Philosophy
of Symbolic Forms, does not seem to be the last stage in his search for principles
underlying all the various kinds of cultural forms. In the decade following,
the Kantian epistemological terminology, as well as Cassirer’s own symbolic
philosophy of culture, is replaced in the new theory of basic phenomena,
by a Goethean approach. In this article we deal with the question of what
kind of alternative the foundation of culture in basic phenomena is supposed
to be, whether it is an “alternative” to his earlier symbolic philosophy at all.
In this context we also take a closer look to Cassirer’s criticism of Husserl’s
phenomenology as a monadic epistemology.
Key-words: apriori forms – phenomenology – basic phenomena

G. RAIO, Transitional phenomena. From the Ausdrucksphänomen to Urphänomen
The theory of the expressive phenomenon, formulated in the Phenomenology
of Knowledge (1929), is marked by a fundamental unconceptuality; at the basis
of the perception of the other it posits the fluidity of the mythical world,
or of its correlate. This unconceptuality is destined to a metaphysical or metaphorical
outcome. The theory of the perception of expression, formulated
in the Logic of the Cultural Sciences (1942), resolves the pregnancy of expression
in the fundamental structure of the symbolic world. That the theory of
the originary phenomena, I, Thou and Es, formulated in the posthumous
work On Basis Phenomena (1940), represents the missing link in the transition
from expression to perception of expression, in the translation of the expressive
character from the I-Thou relation to the relation with the Es, is possible
on the basis of the theory of the work and first of all of the work of art.
Key-words: expression – perception – visibility – work of art

D.PH. VERENE, Cassirer’s Dasein
In his review of Cassirer’s second volume of Philosophie der symbolischen Formen,
Heidegger questions whether the account of mythical thought it contains
is adequate for an understanding of Dasein. Heidegger’s doubts are based
on his claim in Sein und Zeit that a proper phenomenology of Dasein cannot
be derived from an examination of the results of the ethnological and cultural
sciences. Cassirer later grounds his account of myth as a symbolic form
in his analysis of the Ausdrucksphänomen but it is doubtful that Heidegger
would have found this adequate. Cassirer is intent on upholding his doctrine
of Dasein as objective. In the fourth volume of Philosophie der symbolischen
Formen, done from Cassirer’s Nachlass, Cassirer criticizes Heidegger’s Dasein
as established by a subjective phenomenology derived from a philosophy that
is religious in form. Cassirer holds that Heidegger’s philosophy is not only
wrongheaded, it is politically dangerous, for it offers no basis for human freedom
that is necessary for moral judgment.
Key-words: Ausdrucksphänomen – Basisphänomene – Dasein – Heidegger –

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