Ernst Cassirer's Concept of symbolic forms.
Kim, Ha Poong
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The thesis is a study of Ernst Cassirer's concept of symbolic forms as the fundamental concept of his philosophy of symbolic forms. For introductory purposes, Chapter II presents Cassirer's evaluation of the pre-Kantian philosophy and Kant's "Copernican Revolution." The traditional schools of both rationalism and empiricism started with some self-destructive assumptions such as the assertion of adaequatio rei et intellectus and the knowability of the real. In these dogmatic assumptions Cassirer sees an inevitable dilemma. The more sharply philosophy tries to determine the real, the more it becomes aware of the fact that the very act of determination conditions the real. According to Cassirer, it was Kant's "Copernican Revolution" that saved philosophy from a complete skepticism inherent in such a dilemma. It was a revolution in philosophical perspective as well as in method. What became of utmost importance in Kant's new formulation of the philosophical problems was his concept of the form as an a priori constitutive principle of the form, his view of the schema is also discussed, for these Kantian concepts together anticipate Cassirer's concept of symbolic forms. With Chapter III the present study moves into its main topic, namely, the concept of symbolic forms in Cassirer's philosophy. At the outset of the chapter, his concept of the functional form is presented as against the traditional notion of the substantial form, for a preliminary consideration f the main subject. Cassirer rejects the metaphysical notion of the substantial form because of its abstract nature and replaces it with his methodological notion of the functional form. The functional form is a constitutive rule of representation. In its relation to a particular content of experience, the functional form is the systematic totality that makes the given content meaningful. The symbolic form is no more than a functional form which determines our mode of "seeing" and "building" in each one of the cultural sciences such as myth, language, and science. In a word, it is a form of perspective, or simply a perspective. In Kantian terms, it is a form of objectification. Although Cassirer is essentially a Kantian insofar as he is concerned with such a form of objectification, he goes further than his master when he recognizes not only the forms of the understanding but also those of myth as well as language, each with its own criterion of "truth" and "reality." here, he views culture as the totality of diverse symbolic forms. In so doing, he also defines man as an animal symbolicum. When humanity is seen as a vinculum functionale, what is unique and most pervasive in it is the symbolic function of consciousness, which Cassierer terms "natural symbolism." [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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