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Cassirer, Neo-Kantianism and Metaphysics Author(s): John Michael Krois Source: Revue de Mtaphysique et de Morale, 97e Anne, No.

4, Cassirer (Octobre-Dcembre 1992), pp. 437-453 Published by: Presses Universitaires de France Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40903242 . Accessed: 06/05/2013 16:42
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Cassirer,Neo-Kantianism and Metaphysics

- vonderMarCassirer hatsich- wiederspteCohenundderspteNatorp In bisherunpublizierten burger Beschrnkung auf Erkenntnistheorie entfernt. Textenaus der Emigrationszeit sich mit dem Problemder befateCassirer Goethes Lehrevonden Urphnomenen unddie Gestalttheorie Kurt Metaphysik. Cassirers Goldsteins der Basisphnomene . Diese beeinfluten spte Theorie neueDenkrichtung an die Symboltheorie Cassirers an undwiesaufihren knpfte Ausganghin. Tout commeCohenet Natorpdans leuruvretardive, Cassirer s'est situ au-del de la thorie de la connaissance laquellel'cole de Mar entendait bourg se limiter. Dans des textes crits durant son exil et qui n'ontpas encoret Cassirer aborde la problmatique de la mtaphysique. La thorie publis, gthenne des phnomnes comme la thorie de la formedveloppe originaires par Kurt ont influenc la rflexion Goldstein tardive de Cassirer sur les phnomnes de base . Cettenouvelle orientation de sa penses'articule sur la thorie du et indiquecomment la dpasser. symbole,

I. What is Cassirer's relationship to the Marburg Neo-Kantian school? Cassirerhimself was aware that this question needed clarification, particularly as it regardedhis intellectualrelationshipto Hermann Cohen. Toni Cassirer reportsthat when Cassirer learned he was to write his intellectualautobiographyfor the Library of Living Philosophers volume on his thought,it was the one thingforemostin his mind; he said: Nun werde ich mein Verhltniszu Cohen endlich doch fr die anderenklarmachen, und darauf freueich mich. Meine Bindungan ihn
Revuede Mtaphysique et de Morale,N 4/1992 437

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John Michael Krois *. As Casund meine sptere Loslsung von ihm, beides ist wichtig to Cohen was twofold:both a Bindung- a sirersaw it, his relationship bond or tie - and a later Loslsung - a lettinggo or settingoff on his own. This does not tell us much. Cassirerneverwrotethis autobioanswered.This and the questionhas neverbeen fully graphicalstatement, matterof I is not the as understand it, simply psychological problem, of a youngergeneration.It does not affectCassirer's the self-assertion to Judaism, withCohen or concerntheirrelationships personalfriendship has done extensiveresearch2;it a topic on which Steven Schwarzschild a question of the developmentof their philosophical ideas. is strictly The factsof Cassirer's studyat Marburgwith Cohen and Natorp are and his published well-known, essayson Cohen and Natorpgivehis assess for the His articleon Neo-Kantianism mentsof theirachievements3. fourteenth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannicaand the opening discussion of Neo-Kantianismin the fourthvolume of the Erkenntnisproblem evaluate the significanceof this movement for the historyof But none of this answersthe philosophicalquestion of the philosophy4. of the Marburg school to the philosophy of symbolic relationship of thought.Certainly There are varying forms5. degreesof independence Cassirer's Loslsung fromCohen does not entail a rejectionof the resultsof Cohen's philosophy.The clearestexample of this is found in
1. T. Cassirer, Mein Leben mitErnst Cassirer(Hildesheim,Gerstenberg Verlag, 1981), to Cohen, 94. Literally: Now I will finallymake clear for the others my relationship and I look forwardto doing that. My tie to him and my later loosening fromhim-both . are important on Judaismin the Life and Work of Ernst 2. In an as yet unpublishedmanuscript to the Marburgschool was greatly in Ernst Cassirer's relationship Cassirer. My interest The followithSteven Schwarzschild. and correspondence enrichedthroughconversations conceived in part as an answer to his comments.Even when we did wing was originally not agree, he reacted out of friendship. 3. See esp. Hermann Cohen und die Erneuerungder KantschenPhilosophie, KantStudien 17 (1912), 252-273; Hermann Cohen, 1842-1918 Social Research 10 (1943), 30 (1925), 273-298. For a descriptive account 219-232; and Paul Natorp Kant-Studien on this topic, see W. Egger and S. Meyer, Ernst Cassirer. of all of Cassirer's writings is An Annotated Bibliography(New York, Garland, 1988). Furthersecondaryliterature also listed in R. Klibansky, Bibliografiadi Ernst Cassirer in E. Cassirer, Filosofia delle forme simboliche: 3, Fenomenologia della comoscenza, tomo II (Firenze, La nuova ditrice, 1982), 335-378. 4. See esp. The Problem of Knowledge. Philosophy,Science, and Historysince Hegel. trans,by William H. Woglon, M.D. and Charles W. Hendel (New Haven, Yale University in der Philosophie und Wissenschaft Press, 1950) esp. 3-11, cf. Das Erkenntnisproblem der neueren Zeit. Vierter Band, Von Hegels Tod bis zur Gegenwart (1832-1932)(rpt.: Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche 1973), 11-19. Buchgesellschaft 5. I spell philosophyof symbolicforms lower case to referto the philosophytsel; italics referto the books of that title. Cassirer developed the idea of the philosophyof besides The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms itself. symbolic formsin many writings


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Cassirer, Neo-Kantianism betweenCastheirviewsof ethics ; thereis no fundamental disagreement After a dissirerand Cohen regarding practicalphilosophy6. travelling tance togetherCassirer took leave of Cohen in order to go off in a different direction.What directiondid he take? thatthe one enduring achievement of Cohen's Cassirersaid repeatedly method7. renewalof Kantianismwas the idea of the transcendental The theoretical point at whichCassirerengagesin a Loslsung from is this: Cassirer attempted to thinkbeyond Cohen and Neo-Kantianism method. the transcendental The firststep in the Loslsung from Neo-Kantiasnismoccurred Formen, Cassirerapplied the when,in the Philosophie der symbolischen methodin a new way. Insteadof askingabout how knowtranscendental ledge was possible, Cassirerasked about the conditionsof the possibi the world and of understanding lityof our ways of understanding one anotherin language, a programhe stated already on the firstpage of the Vorwortto volume one8. He clarifiedthis new application of methodin his debate withHeideggerin Davos, where the transcendental Cassirer said: He [Cohen] saw the essential nature of the transcendental method thereinthat this method always began with a factum, - beginwitha factum down thisgeneraldefinition but thenhe narrowed in orderto ask about the possibility of this factum- so that again and science. Kant again the thingmost worthaskingabout was mathematical in thisway. I ask about the possibility did not limitthings of the factum of language. How is it, how is it conceivable,thatwe are able to understand one anotherfromDasein to Dasein in this medium? 9 With this Cassirer moved beyond Erkenntnistheorie.
6. An account of this is found in the Cassirer chapter in W. Kluback, The Idea of Humanity. Hermann Cohen's Legacy to Philosophy and Theology. Studies in Judaism Press of America, 1987), 91-114. (Lanham, New York, London, University 7. I have examinedthis topic in my studyCassirer. SymbolicForms and History(New of Cassirer's Haven, Yale University Press, 1987), esp. 6-10, 13-15, 38-44, citinga variety on the subject; further discussionis also foundin my essay Problematik, writings Eigenart und Aktualittin Hans-JrgBraun, Helmut Holzhey, and Ernst Wolfgang Orth (eds.), ber Ernst CassirersPhilosophie der symbolischen Formen (Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1988), 33-44. 8. See E. Cassirer, Philosophieder symbolischen Formen,3 vols 1923-1929 (rpt : Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1964); trans., The Philosophyof SymbolicForms, 3 vols (New Haven, Yale University cited as PSF (English Press, 1953-1957). Hereinafter ed.) or PsF (German ed.) withthe pages of the above editions. On the firstpage of the Vorwort to the first volumeCassirersays thathis subjectmatter will be die verschiedenen Grundformen des " Verstehens" der Welt (PsF) 1 : v), the various forms of man's " understanding"of the world (PSF 1 : 69). in Davoser DisputationzwischenErnstCassirer 9. See the protocolof Cassirer'sremarks und MartinHeidegger.Publishedas a supplement to M. Heidegger, Kant und das Problem


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John Michael Krois Formen Cassirercame to conWith his Philosophie der symbolischen in termsof what has come to be knownas the linguistic ceive philosophy traditional or semioticturn.On one hand, thisled himto criticizie philoHartmann's of this is his evaluation of Nicolai a sophy; good example reificaontology,which,Cassirer argues, depends upon an unreflective It also led him to revisehis assessment distinctions10. tion of linguistic und of his own early work; looking back in 1928 at Substanzbegriff of 1910, he observedthat The logical problemof the Funktionsbegriff concept now seems to me to be coupled much more closely with the general theoryof meaning than it did in my earlier work n. In the of Hartmann,Cassirersays: that same essay thatcontainshis criticisms area of theoretical by the names "knowledge" meaningthatwe designate und fundamental, and "truth" represents only one, howeversignificant In order to understandit ... we must layer of meaning [Sinnschicht]. contrastthis layer of meaningwith other dimensionsof meaning- we and the problem must,in otherwords,conceivethe problemof knowledge of truthas particularcases of the generalproblem of meaning12. In the theory of knowledgeinto the theory all thisCassirerhas transformed of meaning. of the understanding In time, however, Cassirer also sought to develop the basis of the Metaphysik . of symbolicformsand he called thisattempt philosophy in his thought occurredafterhe leftGermanyin 1933, This development in which he develops his views on the subject are still and the writings These laterwritings, however,are now all beingprelargely unpublished.
am Main, VittorioKlostermann,1973), 246-268, esp. der Metaphysik, 4th ed. (Frankfurt der transzendentalen Methode darin, 266-267. See 267 : Er [Cohen] sah das Wesentliche da diese Methode anfngtmit einem Faktum; und nun hatte er diese allgemeineDefiniwiedermiteinemFaktum,um nach Mglichkeit dieses Faktumszu fragen, tion,Anfangen verengt, indem er als das eigentlich Fragwrdige immer wieder die mathematische stehtKant nicht. Ich fragenach der Naturwissenschaft hinstelle.In dieser Einschrnkung Mglichkeitdes Faktums Sprache. Wie kommtes, wie ist es denkbar, da wir uns von knnen? . Dasein zu Dasein in diesem Medium verstndigen nebstden Grenzfragen der Logik und Denkpsycho10. See Cassirer, Erkenntnistheorie fr Philosophie . 3 0927). 78-79. Io2ie. Jahrbcher Kant-Studien 11. See Cassirer, Zur Theorie des Begriffs, , 33 (1928), 130: Denn noch weit enger,als es in der frheren jetzt fr mich Darstellungder Fall war, erscheint . mit dem allgemeinen das logische Problem des Begriffs verknpft Bedeutungsproblem Jahr12. See Erkenntnistheorie nebstden Grundfragen der Logik und Denkpsychologie, bcherfrPhilosophie (1927), 34 : Immerdeutlicher drngtsich uns die Einsichtauf, da jenes Gebiet theoretischen Sinnes, das wir mit den Namen "Erkenntnis" und "Wahdarstellt. Sinnschicht rheit" bezeichen,nur eine, wie immerbedeutsameund fundamentale, mssenwir diese Schicht um sie in ihrerStruktur zu durchschauen, Um sie zu verstehen, - , mssenwir,mitanderen und entgegenhalten anderenSinn-Dimensionen gegenberstellen und das Wahrheitsproblem als Sonderflledes allgemeinen Worten,das Erkenntnisproblem . begreifen Bedeutungsproblems


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Neo-Kantianism Cassirer, by theFelixMeiner Verlag.Theyare beingedited paredforpublication of Dsseldorf the author of thisessayand Oswald at theUniversity by The first volumeincludes the drafts forthe unfinished Schwemmer13. of thePhilosophie An English fourth volume dersymbolischen Formen. edition of thisworkis beingprepared withDonald P. Verene;it will Press. appear withYale University A finalopinion abouttherelevance of thisand theother unpublished materials mustwait untilit is all readily accessible to the assessment But it is not too earlyto raisequestions. of scholars One everywhere. is: what does turn to tell us about that occurs this metaphysics question method?This question Cassirer's of the transcendental understanding also cannot be answered butI wantto suggest at least here, conclusively a way to look at it. the influence of other To begin,we can consider Cassirer's sources, I say to begin becausethe writers on his thought14. philosophical can neverexplainphilosophical searchforsuch sources originality, and Cassirer's of symbolic forms is an original philosophy philosophy. indebted to a variety of thinkers Cassireris fundamentally including Cusanus, Leibniz, Hegel, and Goethe in addition to Cohen and It might be arguedthat not only Natorp'sPlato, but all Natorp15.
and draftsfor mono13. The CassirerNachla includeslectures, essays,course lectures, graphsas well as notes and a few letters.In conjunctionwiththe publicationof Cassirer's extensive withNatorp,is being including correspondence Nachla, Cassirer'scorrespondence, prepared for publication by Massimo Ferrari. 14. I differ here fromIrene Kajon, who upholds the view that only Cohen and nobody else was fundamentally for the development of Cassirer's philosophy.See her significant Das Problem der Einheitdes Bewutseinsim Denken Ernst Cassirersin ber Ernst Cassirers Philosophie der symbolischen und Entwicklung Formen, 249 : Fr die Entstehung von CassirerseigenemDenken sind jedoch nur ein einzigerAutor und eine einzigephilosoHinvon wesentlicher phischeRichtung Bedeutung; in seinen seltenenautobiographischen weisen hat er die GrundlagenseinerLehre immerauf den Einflu von Hermann Cohens . In her articleshe mentionssome of the draftsfor the fourth Kant-Bchern zurckfhrt volume of the Philosophie der symbolischen Formen, viz. the early ones (184a and 184?) but not the later material(in 184c) where Cassirer develops his metaphysical theoryof the Basisphnomene.There it is Goethe and not Cohen who influenced Cassirer. It does not diminishCohen's significance to note that Hegel and Goethe were also fundamental influences. 15. On the relationshipto Cusanus, see the long note by Gerda bon Bredow in her in Vom Globusspiel. De ludo globi. bersetzungmit einer Einfhrung und Einfhrung von Gerda von Bredow. Schriften des Nikolaus von Cues. In Auftragder Anmerkungen Akademieder Wissenschaften in deutscher Heidelberger bersetzung (Hamburg,Felix Meiner to Leibniz, see : A. G. Renea, La rcepVerlag,1952),XXVII-XXVIII. On the relationship tionde Leibniz et les difficults de la reconstruction idale de l'histoire de la scienced'aprs ErnstCassirerin Beitrgezur Wirkungsgeschichte von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Studia LeibnitianaSupplementia , vol. 26, 1986, 301-315and H. Holzhey, Die Leibniz-Rezeption im "Neu-Kantianismus" der MarburgerSchule, in Leibniz Werkund Wirkung, IV. Inter-


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John Michael Krois fromthe history of philosophy in the Marburgschool werefiltered figures In a Kantian such a on the historyof through perspective. perspective as John Hermann Randall we meet everywhere philosophy, expressedit, 16. The role of Hegel is an exception. As with Vor-Kantianer Gadamer once put it, underlying the Marburg School is an uneingestandener Hegelianismus17, an unacknowledgedHegelianism. In his essay on Kant, Hegel and Cassirer: The Origins of the Philosophy of the role Symbolic Forms Donald Verene has shown how fundamental of Hegel is in Cassirer's philosophy.Cassirer's attempt to come to grips with Hegelianism is an essential aspect of his metaphysics . Neo-Kantianism was oriented to the theory of knowledgeand opposed to metaphysic, and in his writing on the history of philosophyCassirer pointed out that this is why its programwas a historicalstep forward. The theoryof knowledge,Erkenntnistheorie, overcame the uncertainty and confusionthat prevailed in philosophyafterthe rise of science in the nineteenth of metaphysical centuryand in the face of the sterility But withinthe Marburgschool this restriction to Erkenntnissystems18. theorie finallycame to be felt as a limitation.In Natorp's late work - theguideline he set aside Cohen's principle of theMarburgSchool - to begin withthe factumof science and undertookto writeabout the real as such19.With this it seemed,as Cassirerwrotein his studyon Natorp, the dam was broken that Cohen had erectedthroughcareful critical effortin order to keep out unmethodicalspeculation20. In his article CassirercomparesNatorp's last work on Natorp in the Kant-Studien
nationalerLeibniz-Kongre. Hannover, 14 bis 19. november1983. Herausgegebenvon der GottfriedWilhelm-Leibniz-Gesellschaft. Hannover, n.d., 287-295. On the relationshipto Hegel, see: Donald P. Verene, Kant, Hegel and Cassirer: The Originsof the Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Journal of the History of Ideas , 30 (1969), 33-46. 16. See Randall, Cassirer's Theoryof Historyas Illustrated in bis Treatment of Renaissance Thought,in The Philosophie of Ernst Cassirer.Ed. Paul ArthurSchilpp (New York, Tudor, 1949), 710. 17. H.-G. Gadamer, Die philosophischeBedeutungPaul Natorps, Festrede zum 100. Geburtstag gehaltenam 24. Januar1954 in der Universitt Marburg.In: P. Natorp, PhiloAus dem Nachla herausgegeben von Hans Natorp (Hamburg, Felix sophischeSystematik. Meiner Verlag, 1958), XVI: Schon im Ansatz der Cohenschen Wiederentdeckung des der Kritik stecktein uneingestandener . Grundgedanken Hegelianismus 18. See The Problemof Knowledge. sinceHegel, esp. 4-6. Science,and History Philosophy, 19. See P. Natorp, Vorlesungen berpraktische Philosophie (Erlangen,Verlag der philosophischenAkademie, 1925), esp. ChapterII on Grundkategorien. 20. See Paul Natorp, Kant-Studien , 30 (1925), 290. The full passage says: Denn Vorsichterrichtet hatte und jetzt scheintder Damm gebrochen,den Cohen in kritischer den er, beim Stande der Philosophie seiner Zeit errichten mute, wenn er sie von bereiner unmethodischen griffen Spekulation befreienund sie von den "sicheren Gang der Wissenschaft*'den Kant fr sie gefordert wollte. hatte, zurckbringen


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Cassirer, Neo-Kantianism to a fuguein whichthe voices of all the othergreatfigures of German from Nicolas of Cusa to are heard one after another Idealism, Hegel, in in treten einer Aber wie ( Natorps Buch, groen Fuge, die zugleich Stimmenall der anderengroen Denker des deutschenIdealismus, von Nikolaus von Kues bis auf Hegel, nacheinanderhervor)21. The most voice in this fugue is Hegel's: As far as Hegel is finally important - but perhaps concerned,his Name is mentioned relatively infrequently with because the his basic only agreement speculativeprincipleand with even withoutsuch menthe methodof dialecticis apparenteverywhere 22. That the of is, self-development Natorp's Kategorie is too tioning close to Hegel's Begriff to need pointingout. In his Natorp articleCassirer carefullydraws out the difference between the demands of the schoolmethod, Marburg exemplified, e.g., in Natorp'sDie logischeGrunden Wissenschaften (1910), and the speculativeand dialeclagen der exact tical directionof Natorp's late work. But what does Cassirer himself think of Natorp's embracingmetaphysics? Cassirer does not pass judgment on Natorp's late work; he makes a pointrather of indicating thathe and Natorpagreedin theirlast converof the problem of the symbol23. Has the time sation on the centrality needed to refrain frommetaphysical passed thatphilosophy inquiry?We do not gain the answerfromthe Natorp essay. But we can see Cassirer's answerin his own laterwork. The answeris: yes, but metaphysics cannot follow its former methods. It cannot reduce all realityto logic, a criticism we find already in the general statementof the problem of the philosophyof symbolicforms (PsF 1: 15; PSF 1: 83). Cassirerdid not follow Natorp. Cassirer's greatestdebt to Hegel was to the Hegel of the Phnomenologiedes Geistes, not the Wissenschaft der Logik24. Moreover, as he developed his view of metaphysics, the influenceof other figuresbesides Hegel came to the fore. The two I will focus on here seem at first glance not even to belong to the history of philosophy, nevertheless theitsignificance is fundamental. I am referto Goethe and Kurt Goldstein. ring
21. Paul Natorp, Kant-Studien , 30 (1925), 295. 22. Paul Natorp, Kant-Studien so wird , 30 (1925), 295: Was endlichHegel betrifft, sein Name verhltnismig seltengennant- aber vielleicht nur deshalb, weil die bereinsmit seinemspekulativen und mit der Methode der Dialektik auch timmung Grundprinzip ohne solche Nennung berall deutlichzu Tage tritt . 23. Paul Natorp, Kant-Studien , 30 (1925), 26. 4. bee verene, Kant, Hegel ana Cassirer: me origins oj me Philosophyoj ymoolic Forms, e.g., 42: Cassirer [...] regardsthe culminationof the Phenomenologyof Mind in the Science of Logic as the major defect in Hegel's system .


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John Michael Krois I do not choose Goethe and Goldstein at random, for in Cassirer 's in to the their ideas both contribute the same of they way application viz. to Cassirer'sefforts of symbolic of the philosophy forms, development to avoid subjectivismand to explicate the metaphysicalbasis of the symbolicforms.

II. That Goethe is significant to Cassirer is obvious, even superficially. mentionsGoethe; Goethean language and allusions Cassirer constantly He publishedas much or more on Goethe permeateCassirer's writing. lifetime than on of the above named thinkers.But the his any during of Goethe cannot be gauged by the amounthe wrote import philosophical about Goethe nor by how Goethe influenced the styleof his prose. The philosophicalimportof Goethe's world view is seen in the prominence Cassirer gives to Goethe's notion of the Urphnomen (irreducible primary phenomenon), especiallyin his later works. The following statement from1942, first publishedin 1979, is typicalof what I mean: The fundamentalreality,the Urphnomen,in the sense of Goethe, the ultimate by the term life. phenomenon may,indeed,be designated This phenomenonis accessible to everyone; but it is incomprehensible in the sense thatit admitsof no definition, no abstracttheoretical explanation. We cannot explain it, if explanationmeans the reductionof an fact ... unknownfactto a better-known fact,forthereis no better-known termsreferring Life, reality,being, existenceare nothingbut different to one and the same fundamental fact. These termsdo not describe a substantial fixed, rigid, thing. They are to be understoodas names of a process 25. The point of the transcendental method,as Cassirerpointed out, was thatit startswitha givenand asks about the conditionsof its possibility, methodis not applicable. Its application to but here the transcendental an Urphnomenis ruled out by definition;if it were applicable, then we would not be talkingabout a primary Upon closerscruphenomenon. thatdoes not derivefrom tinywe noticemuchelse in Cassirer'sphilosophy
25. Language and Art II (1942) in E. Cassirer, Symbol,Myth,and Culture.Essays and Lectures of ErnstCassirer1935-1945. Ed. by Donald PhillipVerene(New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1979), 193-194.


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Cassirer, Neo-Kantianism transcendental philosophy,for example, the Hegelian (actually: Simmethat itselfinto the sphereof Geist - an notion Leben transforms lian) idea found even in Cassirer's earlierwriting26. Unlike many contempobut like Peirce or Whitehead, Cassirer foresaw the raryPhilosophers, a new kind of of possibility developing systematic philosophyoriented Here Goethe's influenceis as its greatest. to the problemof meaning27. The Goethean elementin Cassirer's thoughthas been noticed before, but is has always seemed to be a mattergraftedonto his philosophy fromoutside. As Isabel Stearn once put it: one feels that Cassirer's to Goethe suggesta certaincompletionto his thoughtwhich references he could not as a critical[i.e., Kantian] thinker, allow himself explicitly in a conclusivemanner28. In his published works, Casto formulate sirer appeals to Goethe's notion of the Urphnomenagain and again without,however, ever examiningit from the standpointof his own We are told thatthe expressive function of meaning is an Urphthought. nomen(PSF 3: 87; PSF 3: 102), that the experience of the livinghuman body is an Urphnomen(PSF 3: 99-103; PSF 3: 116-21) and that the same is true of symbolische Prgnanz* The person is an Time is an Urphnomen Urphnomen19. (PSF 3: 205; PsF 176). The list could be extended.Such phenomenacannot be explainedby any method withouttherebylosing the phenomenonin question. The chief materialreason why this dimensionof Cassirer's thought has proved so puzzling is that the primarytexts on the subject - all written whileCassirerwas teachingin Sweden at the university of Gtein the 1930s- have neverbeen published. WhenCassirer leftSweden borg

26. This notion is already found early in the first volume (PSF 1, 113-114); cf. PsF 1, 51: Das Leben tritt aus der Sphre des blo naturgegebenen Daseins heraus: es wandelt und vollendetsich zur Form des "Geistes". Cf. G. Simmel,Die Wendungzur Idee, in Viermetaphysische Lebensanschauung, Kapitel (Mnchenund Leipzig Duncker& Humblot, 1918), 28-98. 27. An early indicationis found in Einsteins Theoryof Relativity (1921): It is the task of systematic whichextendsfarbeyondthe theory of knowledge[Erkenntphilosophy, to free the ideas of the world from this on-seidedness.It has to grasp the nistheorie], whole systemof symbolicforms,the application of which produces for us the concept of an orderedreality, and by virtueof whichsubject and object, ego and world are separatedand opposed to each otherin definite form. Substanceand Functionand Einstein's Relativitheory of Relativity (New York, Dover Books, 1953), 447. Cf. Zur Einsteinschen ttstheorie (1921), rpt.in Zur ModernenPhysik(Darmstadt,Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1957), 109-110. 28. I. Stearns, Review of The Problem of Knowledgeby ErnstCassirer. The Review of Metaphysics 5, n. 1 (September1951), 109-124, quote from 119. 29. Cassirer, WilliamStern,Zur Wiederkehr seines Todestages, Acta Psychologia, 5 (1940), 9. 445

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John Michael Krois in 1941 to go to America he left all of his papers behind with his son His wife retrived them on a visit to Gteborg in Georg in Gteberg30. in 1946 died The July (Cassirer 1945). papers were sold in 1964, along to Yale Press. Yale Press had an with all the literary rights, University initial list of the papers made by Dr. John Bacon, today a professor of Sydneyin Australia, but the actual of philosophyat the University contentand significance of the papers was long unknown. In a letter of August 16, 1970 to the author of this essay, Charles W. Hendel Cassirer'sstaythere (Chairmanof theYale Philosophy Department during in America) indicatedthat he was and an advocate of Cassirer'sthought himselfunaware of what was in Cassirer's Nachla, It was not until Donald Verene inspectedthe Cassirer papers in 1972 that the nature of he published a descriptionof their contentswas clearly established31; them in 197932. relevanceto the explicationof CasSources in the Nachla of greatest sirer'snotionof the Urphnomen include(1) draftsforthe fourth volume of the Philosophie der symbolischen Formen (2), the manuscriptfor a and (3) Ziele und Wege der Wirklichkeitserkenntnis, monographentitled a long criticalessay on the Vienna Circle. All of these texts examine and explicateGoethe's notion of the Urphnomenand explicitly approFormen under the term priate it for the Philosophie der symbolischen Basisphnomen. Cassirer also applies this new terminology in other In for date from the the drafts which also 1930s. unpublishedwritings Cassirer the fourth volume of the Philosophiedes symbolischen Formen, as somethingtranscencriticizesKant's conception of Metaphysik ding all possible experienceand goes on to develop his own theoryof der symbolischen Formen whose centralnotion is that a Metaphysik of Basisphnomene33.I cannot summarize this volume here, but its not Logic, stated:not the Concept,not Categories, direction can be simply but primaryphenomena, Urphnomene,are the final realitiesthat is philosophymust understand.The problem with all past metaphysics not that it turnedaway fromthese primary phenomena(Kant's concepbut that it cut out or eliminatedpart of reality tion of metaphysics), in order to declare one of the primary phenomenato be the absolutely
about Ernst Cassirer's papers and other help I thank Prof. Peter 30. For information of Gteborg. Cassirer, University of Cassirer's to thecontents 31. The authorof thisessaywas introduced papersat thattime. 32. See Appendix: A Descriptionof Cassirer's Papers. In E. Cassirer, Symbol, Myth, and Culture, 293-298. der symbolischen Formen is the titleof one of the drafts(1846); 33. Zur Metaphysik of Basisphnomeneis found in 184c. however,the attemptto develop a metaphysics


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Neo-Kantianism Cassirer, real. Cassirer playson thewordsAbwendung (turn away)and Abblenor cover over shade to make this out) dung(to partially point.He offers and an accountof the primary phenomena finally applieshis account to thehistory of metaphysics which he reconstructs itself, systematically in terms of the threebasic primary He calls thesethree phenomena. in by variousnames,fortheyfunction primary phenomena differently He introduces different contexts. themand oftenspeaksabout them, to three Goethean maxims34. Therehe refers to the three by reference basic phenomena as: theMonas (thewholeof life),theactivity of life, and theproducts of life35. The parallel to thethree basic forms of the in thethird function volumeof thePhilosophie dersymbolissymbolic chenFormen and reineBedeutung) is obvious. (Ausdruck, Darstellung Cassirer had already calledattention to theterm Monas in theseGoethe in Freiheit maxims und Form (1918),where he interprets Goethe'suse of the termas a borrowing fromLeibniz36. Earlierstill,in his comto his Leibniz(1906), one findsCassirer Leibniz's mentary explicating monad by reference to Goethe: So we arriveat the conceptof the " Monad" as " geprgte Formdie lebendsichentwickelt" [shaped 37. Here we have an illustration thatdevelops form of how by living] rooted Goetheanism is in Cassirer's to philosophical ideas. deeply approach Whenhe finally thematized the Goetheanism in his philosophy in the 1930sit was onlytheattempt to makeexplicit whathad beenthere from the start. How doesall thisrelate to theearlier three of thePhilosophie volumes dersymbolischen Formen ? To answer thisquestion we needto turnto the workof the Gestalttheorist KurtGoldstein.

34. Maxims 381-393in Hecker's edition: Goethe, Maximen und Reflexionen.Nach den Handschriften des Goethe-und SchillerArchivsherausgegeben von Max Hecker. Schriften der Goethe-Gesellschaft, vol. 21 (Weimar, Verlag der Goethe-Gesellschaft, 1907), 76-77. 35. Leben, die rotierende der lebenBewegungder Monas (maxim391), Eingreifen Monas (maxim 392), and Handlung und That, als Wort und Schrift digbeweglichen (maxim 393). In folder 184c, section Basisphnomene (Urphnomene) l, first page. 36. Freiheit und Form (Berlin, Bruno Cassirer, 1916), 281. 37. Cf. also Cassirer's Commentary on Monadologie. In G.W. Leibniz, Hauptschriften der Philolophie. bersetztvon ArthurBuchenau. Durchgesehen und mit zur Grundlegung Einleitungenund Erluterungen herausgegebenvon Ernst Cassirer (Leipzig, Verlag der Drr'schen Buchhandlung, 1906), 437, note 482: So gelangen wir zum Begriffder "Monade" als "geprgteForm die lebendsichentwickelt" . The quotationis fromGoethe, Urworte.Orphisch. AAIMQN, Dmon. In Goethe, Werke. Herausgegebenim Auftrage der Groherzogin Werke.55 Bde. (Weimar,Hermann Sophie von Sachsen. ErsteAbtheilung. . Bhlau, 1887-1918),vol. 3, 95, 8: Geprgte Form die lebend sich entwickelt


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John Michael Krois

III. Unlike in the case of Goethe, Cassirer's debt to Kurt Goldsteinis not apparent in the numberof times he cites his works38.Goldsteinwas a and a leading figurein Gestalt-theory, an neurologistand psychiatrist of theGestalt-theory editorwithKoffkaand Wertheimer journal Psycho; he was also ErnstCassirer's cousin and lifelong logischeForschungen Goldsteinwas friendwithwhom he was in frequent personal contact39. and it was this school of Cassirer's in house experton Gestalt-theory, of symbolische thatprovidedhimwiththe principle Prgnanz. thought I have argued elsewherethat symbolische Prgnanz is the highest Formen40.With the point of Cassirer's Philosophie der symbolischen notion of symbolischePrgnanz, Cassirer says, he hopes to avoid the subjectivismof Kant and Husserl41. Symbolic Pregnance is best understoodin contrastto Cassirer's key term: symbolicform. Symbolic form is definedso as to apply to cultural thatuse or dependupon signs i.e., systems symbolsystems, in a cultural tradition: etc. The defiwords,pictures, gestures, originating betweenlanguageas a fixed nitionechoes Humboldt' s famousdistinction system(ergon) and as livingspeech fenergiea);Cassirer writes: Under a " symbolic form" should be understoodall those energiesof mind whichan intelligent content of meaning [jede Energiedes Geistes]through a concrete is bound to sensorysign [konk[geistiger Bedeutungsgebalt]

in the thirdvolume of 38. Cassirer does cite numerousessays by Goldstein,primarily The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. From 1917-1933he 39. Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965) was a neurologistand psychiatrist. von Hirnverletder Folgeerscheinungen was the directorof the Institutzur Erforschung am Main. Afterhis Emigration1934 to the USA he was a Professor zungen in Frankfurt For an account of his Gestaltinstitutions Columbia University. thereat different including theoryof the organismsee esp. Der Aufbau des Organismus(The Hague, Nijhoff, 1934). between Cassirer and Goldstein, see Kurt Goldstein, 1878-1965, On the early friendship editedby MarianneL. Simmel The Reach of theMind: Essays in Memoryof KurtGoldstein, (New York, SpringerPublishing Co., 1968), 3. 4U. krois, Cassirer, esp. dz-oz, iu-iuy. ot Dothin the chapter symDonscne 41. bee his criticism hragnanz. in Kant s concept he sees an ambiguity, so that an an sich bestehendes"transzendentales of Synthesis der reinenVerstandesbegriffe Subjekt", appears to existas the "Urheber" der Gltigkeit morphe betweensensory hyle and intentional (PsF 3, 227). In Husserl's distinction he sees a dualist doctrine,that assumes a coming into being of meaning in an alien element [ihm fremdenSchicht] (PsF 3, 321).


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Neo-Kantianism Cassirer, withthissign42. sinnliches associated retes Zeichen]and is internally a symbolic is a particular To paraphrase: form wayof interpreting signs. symbolische is defined as thewayin which Prgnanz By contrast, a perception as a sensory contains at thesametimea certain experience 43. nonintuitive which it and immediately concretely meaning represents onlya way [Art] In contrast of symbolic form to thedefinition there is meaning is mentioned, instead [Sinn]in thesensory [Sinnlichen] whichcouplesmeaning of an Energie des Geistes to [Sinn] a sign does not involve an act of Inter[Zeichen], Prgnanz Symbolische mind in no of is mentioned its definition. It does pretation; Energie not require Kantian or any synthesis dependupon intentionality, any sinn-verleihende Akte in Husserl'ssense. Symbolische is a Gestalt-phnomenological idea. GestaltPrgnanz mostimportant is the Gesetzder Prgnanz psychology's principle also knownas the law of good Gestalt . It is [law of pregnance], themainconcept of Gestalt-psychology. The law of pregnance states that, Psychological willalways be as "good" as theprevailing organization allow**,i.e., thatit appearsas closed,stabile, rounded or conditions did notpublish otherwise Cassirer an explanation of therelaorganized. symbolische and theGestalt between idea of Prtionship Prgnanz butinteresting discussions arefound hisunpublished gnanz, among papers. Vom Standpunkt In one place he writes: derGestaltpsychologie [entsArt von Gestaltund Gestaltung auch je eine pricht] jeder besonderen besondere Weiseder "Praegnanz" [...] es gibtrumliche und zeitliche - Ja wirmssen theoretische undaesthetische von Praegnanz, Praegnanz aus hiernochweiter unserem undsagen:die spezifische Standpunt gehen der "Praegnanz" begrndet und ermglicht erstdie speziBesonderung fischeVerschiedenheit der "Gestalten"- alle Vergegenwrtigung ist
42. Untereiner"symbolischen Form" soll jede Energiedes Geistesverstanden werden, durch welche ein gestigerBedentungsgehalt an ein konkretes sinnlichesZeichen geknpft und diesem Zeichen innerlich Form im zugeeignetwird. Der Begriffder symbolischen des Symbolbegriffs Aufbau der Geisteswissenschaften (1921). Rpt. in Wesenund Wirkung (Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1969), 175. 43. PSF 3, 201; PsF 3, 235 : Unter "symbolische Prgnanz" soll also die Art verstanden werden,in der ein Wahrnehmungserlebnis, als "sinnliches Erlebnis,zugleicheinen bestimmten anschaulichen"Sinn" in sich fat und ihn zur unmittelbaren konkreten Dars. tellungbringt 44. K. Koffka, The Principles of GestaltPsychology (London, Routledge& Kegan Paul, 1935), 110. For a more recentdiscussion of Prgnanz from a contemporary viewpoint in J.R. Pomerantz and M. Kubovy, PerceptualOrganization.An Overview,in Perceptual Organization,edited bl Michael Kubovy und James R. Pomerantz (Hillsdale, Lawrence Erlbaum 1981), 436-449.


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John Michael Krois in einem bestimmten "Sinne" 45. Cassirer immerVergegenwrtigung [in a certain in "Sinne" this einem bestimmten interprets appearing hence he of a as symbolic Prsymbolicfunction, speaks "sense"] gnanz. Gestalt-theory, especiallyas it was developed by Goldsteininfluenced school of phenomenology the non-egological by Gurwitsch46 typified in fact drew fromCassireras much and Merleau-Ponty.Merleau-Ponty Goldstein is most well-knownfor his as from Goldstein himself47. between studiesof aphasia in which(withAdhmarGelb) he distinguished the concrete behaviorand speech of aphasiacs, for whom the world fromthe abstract cateonly consistsof presenttasks as distinguished gorical behavior of healthyindividuals,who are capable of representing the world in general and abstract ways48. Cassirer saw in of his interand confirmation Goldstein'swork an empiricalillustration

Praegnanz,symbolische Ideation , impa45. ErnstCassirer,envelope 104, Manuscript: In translaginateci.The quoted passage is found on the last two pages of the manuscript. tion: From the standpointof Gestalt-psychology everyparticularkind of Gestalt and kindof "Prgnanz" [...] thereare spatial also corresponds to a particular Gestalt-formation - yes, we mustfromour standand aestheticPrgnanz and temporalPrgnanz, theoretical of "Prgnanz" originally and say: the specificparticularization point herego even further of "Gestalten"- all making-present founds and makes possible the specific differences Press for perin a certain"sense" . I thank Yale University is always a making-present mission to quote from this manuscript. 46. Gurwitsch'sDissertation(Gttingen,1928) is based on Gestalt theory:Phnomenound logie der Thematikund des reinenIch: Studien ber Beziehungenvon Gestalttheorie it appeared in the Gestaltschool's journal, Psychologische Forschung, Phnomenologie, in Goldstein's work and Cassirer wherehusboth interested 12 (1929), 278-381. Gurwitsch (konkreten) (kategorialen) behavior and abstract between the concrete on thedifference to the world. But were Gurwitschsaw a convergence of aphasiacs and theirrelationship betweenGoldstein'sexplanationof aphasia and Husserl's theoryof Ideation, Cassirer saw of the constituof his interpretation in Goldstein's work an illustration and confirmation withGoldstein On Gurwitsch's associationin Frankfurt tive role of the symbolicfunction. Sketchof Aron Gurwitsch see L.E. Embree, Biographical and his use of Gestalt-Theory, , Press 1972), xix-xxi. University Life-Worldand Consciousness (Evanston, Northwestern and Cassirer,see my essay Problematik,Eigenart about Gurwitsch For more information und Aktualittin ber Ernst CassirersPhilosophie der symbolischen Formen, 24-25 and 38-39 notes 25-27. 47. Merleau-Ponty, Phnomnologiede la perception(Pans, Gallimard, 1945). When says Toute sensation est dj pregnanted'un sens (343) the idea and Merleau-ponty terminus are Cassirer's symbolischePrgnanz. See his uses of this notion, esp. 338-339, also 49, 76-77, 81-82, 152-153,155, 178, 183, 216, 227, 275, 337-339,466. Merleau-Ponty's du Comportement see La Structure (Paris, Presses earlyworkis devotedto Gestalt-theory: de France, 1949). Universitaires Flle (Leipzig, 48. A. Gelb and K. Goldstein, Psychologische Analysenhirnpathologischer of commentabout the significance J.A. Barth, 1920). See, e.g., Cassirer's briefsummary between categorical and concrete,PsF 3, 322-323; PSF 3, 275-276. this distinction


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Cassirer, Neo-Kantianism role of the symbolicfunctionin the orgapretationof the constitutive nism's behavior and world. Goldstein's concrete behavior remainslargelywithinthe limitsof function of understanding while abswhat Cassirercalled the expressive of the tract categorical behavior correspondsto an understanding world in terms of the representationaland significativefunctions Cassirer' s observations (Darstellungs-and reinenBedeutungsfunktion). at Goldstein's Frankfurt clinic of the behavior and speech of patients fromaphasia49providedthe backgroundof the chapteron the suffering in the thirdvolume of the Philosopathologyof the symbolicfunction Formen. Cassirer der symbolischen thoughtof this chapter as a phie negativeproof of his theoryof the symbol: the process of the world's "symbolization" discloses its value and meaning where it no longer operates free and unhindered,but must struggleand make its way againstobstacles (PSF 3: 277; PsF 3: 325). Cassirer's anthropological theoryin An Essay on Man is foreshadowedin this pathology he does not place himself chapter: the animal lives in his environment; it. This acquisitionof the world as idea, over againstit and so represent is, rather,the aim and product of the symbolicforms (PSF 3: 276; PsF 3: 322-323). The emphasisin Cassirer scholarshiphas always fallen - life on the latterpart of this statement. But what about the former in an environment? This quotation appears to put all the emphasis upon the acquisition of the world as idea. And Cassirer frequently called attentionto the of philosophicalpositionsthat failed to recognizethe impordeficiency tance of thisacquisition.For example,Karlfried Grnderrightly pointed out thatforCassirerHeidegger'sanalysisof space was morean examination of the animal world than of the human world50.In fact, Cassirer equated Heidegger's analysis of Zuhandenheitin Being and Time with Goldstein's account of the limitedsymbolicactivityof the aphasiac51, but this does not mean that the philosophyof symbolicformshad to or did ignorethe questionswhich concern life philosophers , among

49. On Cassirer's contactswithGoldsteinin Frankfurt, see PSF 3, 210 note 7 and 217, note 19; PsF 3, 244 note 2 and 252, note 3. 50. K. Grnder, Cassirerund Heideggerin Davos 1929, in ber Ernst Cassirersphilo'. Formen, 297 sophie der symbolischen (1932-1933), 51. See Cassirer, Die Sprache und der Aufbau der Gegenstandswelt rpt. in E. Cassirer, Symbol, Technik,Sprache, ed. by Ernst Wolf gang Orth and John Michael Krois with JosefM. Werle (Hamburg, Felix Meiner Verlag, 1985), 133. Cf. the discussion of this passage, Einleitung,XXIV-XXV.


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John Michael Krois offered Goldstein's Gestalt-theory which Cassirer counted Heidegger52. for this53. The of Cassirer's pathology conceptual vocabulary part it on the one like symbolicpregnance - are preceding chapter, inconceivablewithoutthe work of Goldstein.The world gains or looses but it is alwaysa Gestaltin whichthePerson,World, symbolic pregnance, in a correlation54. The philosophy and Symbolalways appear holistically to the philosophical of symbolic forms was oriented questionof the whole, not to critiqueof knowledge. It addressed the problem of the subject pregnant,world, by explicatingit in termsof the whole, symbolically and understoodthis world in both an idealistic and a realistic sense. Indeed, for Cassirer,theseare both only names fora process . Goldstein's analyses converged in Cassirer's thoughtwith Goethe's conceptionof the Urphnomenwhich as Cassirer said, may, indeed, be designatedby the term"life" . This directionof thoughtled away fromthe transcendental method,but it did not lead simplyto anthropo of life by which he sought to logy. It led to the metaphysics complete his philosophy.

IV. to NeoThis bringsus back to the question of Cassirer's relationship thesecomments about Cassirer'sdebtto Goethe I put forward Kantianism. an area of his thoughtthat did not and Goldsteinin order to illustrate methodas defined within thelimits remain by thetranscendental prescribed by Neo-Kantiantheoryof knowledge.Like Natorp, Cassirerfeltthe restraintsof such a philosophicaloutlook, but in his attemptto come to Cassirerremainedphenomenolotermswiththe problemof metaphysics I not solved the problemof his relahave in Goethean sense. the gical, rather but the to given a previewof further Marburg School, tionship In partiareas of Cassirer's thoughtthat will need futureinvestigation.

52. See E. Cassirer, "Geist" und "Leben ": Heidegger, Philosophyand Rhetoric, 16 (1983), 164-166. 53. Anotherimportant biology, whose importancecannot part is Uexkll's theoretical be discussed here. 54. rrom the standpointot pnenomenoiogicaiinquirymere is no more a matterin (PSF 3, 199), so wenig itselfthan a form in itself; there are only total experiences einen "Stoff an sich", wie eine "Form an sich", es gibt immerwiedernur Gesamterlebnisse (PsF3, 231).


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Neo-Kantianism Cassirer, therelationship between later andCassirer's needs cular, Natorp's writings to be explored. Scholars havelongconsidered Neo-Kantianism an exhaustiveinterpretative fortheinvestigation of Cassirer's platform philosophy; needs if that it Neo-Kantianism particularly equates perspective broadening, with Erkenntnistheorie. The Marburg schoolitself was broader thanthe implies. In Cassirer's label Neo-Kantianism later we writings see how theideasof theMarburg schoolcouldenjoyfurther without development a commitment to theprimacy of thetheory In anycase, of knowledge. forthefinal wordon these and on Cassirer's itself, questions philosophy it is stilltoo early. JohnMichaelKrois*

* Articleparu initialement dans //cannochiale, n 1/2, janvier-aot 1991, p. 151-168.


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