Access

You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Ernst Cassirer and the Critical Science of Germany, 1899–1919

Ernst Cassirer and the Critical Science of Germany, 1899–1919

Gregory B. Moynahan
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Anthem Press
Pages: 278
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1gxp6gv
Find more content in these subjects:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Ernst Cassirer and the Critical Science of Germany, 1899–1919
    Book Description:

    Reconstructing the relationship between science and politics in Imperial Germany, this book covers the early work of the philosopher and historian Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945) and discusses his relation to the Marburg School of philosophy.

    eISBN: 978-0-85728-343-6
    Subjects: Philosophy, History of Science & Technology
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. ix-xii)
  4. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction “READING A MUTE HISTORY”: ERNST CASSIRER, THE MARBURG SCHOOL AND THE CRISES OF MODERN GERMANY (pp. xvii-lii)

    In July 1917, during the bleakest days of the First World War, the writer Hermann Bahr (1863–1934) published an essay on the current situation in Germany and Austria-Hungary for the popular monthlyDie Neue Rundschau.¹ Largely forgotten now, Bahr was at this time one of the more influential writers in Central Europe and something of an impresario of the Viennese modernist movement.² A cofounder of the Viennese newspaperDie Zeit, the author of over thirty books and plays and a founding member of the “Young Vienna” group of poets, he was also a correspondent with many of the principal...

  6. Part I The Marburg School and the Politics of Science in Germany
    • Chapter One THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY CONFLICT OF THE FACULTIES: THE MARBURG SCHOOL AND THE REFORM OF THE SCIENCES (pp. 3-26)

      Ever since its first publication in 1883, Hermann Cohen’s textThe Principle of the Infinitesimal Method and Its History: A Chapter on the Foundations of the Critique of Knowledgehas formed a puzzle for all but close followers of the Marburg school.¹ The text is widely considered to mark a shift in Cohen’s thought and to establish the most influential direction of the school, and with it began the school’s enormous influence in German philosophical, legal and scientific thought in the three decades before the First world war. Intended, however improbably, to form something of a “popularization” of Cohen’s ideas,...

    • Chapter Two CASSIRER AND THE MARBURG SCHOOL IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE AND POLITICAL CONTEXT OF THE KAISERREICH (pp. 27-44)

      That Cohen’s work would principally be received as part of a broad reform project and not, as his detractors would have it, solely as a recondite theory of physics or, conversely, even a form of “mysticism” (Nelson) is evident if we place it in the earlier context of the Marburg school.¹ The same reception history also casts light on the meaning of Cassirer’s works, which were written and presumably read during his life with this context in mind, but which in themselves rarely alert the present-day reader to this background. Against a reading of Cassirer or the Marburg school as...

    • Chapter Three “THE SUPREME PRINCIPLES OF KNOWLEDGE”: CASSIRER’S TRANSFORMATION OF THE TENETS OF COHEN’S INFINITESIMAL METHOD (1882) AND SYSTEM OF PHILOSOPHY (1902–1912) (pp. 45-82)

      Few texts summarize and at the same time compound the challenges of their author’s general philosophy as much as Cohen’sThe Principle of the Infinitesimal Method and its Historyof 1881. Cohen begins his text by writing that it is crucial to understand calculus “ because it is the basic idea of the mathematical sciences,” and there is no doubt that he wanted to convince his readers of its pivotal philosophical importance in this regard.¹ The work however almost immediately suggested a far broader philosophical agenda. Both in its initial form and its later adumbrations, the basic themes in Cohen’s...

  7. Part II Critical Science and Modernity
    • Chapter Four LEIBNIZ AND THE FOUNDATION OF CRITICAL SCIENCE: LEIBNIZ’S SYSTEM IN ITS SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATIONS (1902) (pp. 85-120)

      “Leibniz’s Metaphysic,” Cassirer writes inLeibniz’s System, “is the first complete expression of the consciousness of the modern era,” but we could add that for Cassirer this consciousness had only haltingly been recognized.¹ Although presented as a historical exegesis, Cassirer’sLeibniz’s System in its Scientific foundations(1902) presents an interpretation and critique of Leibniz’s work as the foundation of the system of knowledge, one that refutes the dominant Cartesian philosophy of Leibniz’s era and its contemporary successors in materialism and positivism. It is a strong interpretation – in both senses of the term – that was largely consonant with both Cassirer’s own...

    • Chapter Five SCIENCE AND HISTORY IN CASSIRER’S SUBSTANCE AND FUNCTION (1910) (pp. 121-156)

      Cassirer’sSubstance and Function(1910) translates the key theoretical arguments ofLeibniz’s Systemand Cohen’s philosophy into a modern scientific idiom, weaving the basic themes through a survey of the modern development in logic, mathematics, geometry, physics, chemistry and psychology. Cohen praised the book for its development of the Marburg critique through an immanent discussion of the contemporary sciences, a project that, he noted in a letter to Cassirer, his own work had never accomplished.¹ The central argument ofSubstance and Functionis that the contemporary primacy of the “logic of the mathematical concept of the function[…] is not...

  8. Part III Liberal Democracy and Law
    • Chapter Six LIBERALISM AND THE CONFLICT OF FORMS: THE KNOWLEDGE PROBLEM (1906–1940) AND FREEDOM AND FORM (1916) (pp. 159-192)

      Astute contemporary commentators such as Karl Mannheim recognized both the originality ofFreedom and Formand its continuity with Cassirer’s earlier work. Summarizing the text in 1917, Mannheim writes, “Cassirer transforms the concepts ofFreedom and Forminto functional concepts […] with the theory recently applied to the history of exact science in his last book (Substance and Function).”¹Freedom and Formpresents an outline of a theory of liberal civilization that is the culmination of Cassirer’s functional model of form, which his narrative recasts through an alternative history of German classicism. Although the political format of the text is...

    • Chapter Seven LAW AS SCIENCE AND THE “COMING-INTO-BEING” OF NATURAL RIGHT IN COHEN, CASSIRER AND KELSEN (pp. 193-208)

      In an overview of Ernst Cassirer’s Weimar career, the philosopher Jürgen Habermas commented on a central contradiction. “In the realm of the German Mandarins, [Cassirer was] one of the few courageous exceptions who defended the Weimar Republic against its despisers among the intellectuals,” yet it is “all the more astonishing” that nowhere in Cassirer’s key writings on symbolic forms from the weimar Period does the concept of right and morality, and with it the realm of politics, find a clearly defined place.¹ In this, Habermas voices a disappointment common to many readers of Cassirer: even as Cassirer was clearly aware...

    • Conclusion CRITICAL SCIENCE, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE RIDDLE OF AN ESSAY ON MAN (1944) (pp. 209-220)

      Cassirer’s work before the First World War set out the conditions for a new form of liberalism specific to central Europe and the development of the modern sciences, one based on a historical critique of knowledge revealing different definitions of subjectivity, objectivity and meaning for different eras. This form of liberalism was expressly different than that of other Western European traditions since it was rooted in Leibniz’s philosophy, which had developed a political theory of rights, liberalism and democracy that Cassirer considered, remarkably, superior to that of Locke, montesquieu or Rousseau.¹ Rather than simply defending a liberal vision of the...

  9. INDEX (pp. 221-226)