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Ernst Cassirer:
The Last Philosopher of Culture
Edward Skidelsky

Paperback | 2011 | $29.95 | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691152356
304 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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This is the first English-language intellectual biography of the German-Jewish philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945), a leading figure on the Weimar intellectual scene and one of the last and finest representatives of the liberal-idealist tradition. Edward Skidelsky traces the development of Cassirer's thought in its historical and intellectual setting. He presents Cassirer, the author of The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, as a defender of the liberal ideal of culture in an increasingly fragmented world, and as someone who grappled with the opposing forces of scientific positivism and romantic vitalism. Cassirer's work can be seen, Skidelsky argues, as offering a potential resolution to the ongoing conflict between the "two cultures" of science and the humanities--and between the analytic and continental traditions in philosophy. The first comprehensive study of Cassirer in English in two decades, this book will be of great interest to analytic and continental philosophers, intellectual historians, political and cultural theorists, and historians of twentieth-century Germany.


"As Edward Skidelsky points out in his magnificent new account of Cassirer's intellectual development, 'cut off from their own religious traditions, yet denied full participation in civic life, assimilated German Jews embraced their host nation's philosophy, literature, and music with a fervour rooted in anxiety.'"--Stephen Gaukroger, Times Literary Supplement

"Skidelsky gives a close, technical account of the ways in which Cassirer was never just a Marburg School stereotype; but he aligned himself neither with the logical positivists nor with the Heideggerian, existentialist tradition which between them carved up the field of 20th-century philosophy, as they arguably continue to do."--David Simpson, London Review of Books

"Skidelsky should be congratulated for presenting us with an extremely readable and compelling account of Cassirer's work, delivering it from the stratospheric abstractness of the Marburg School and revealing a dynamic and engaging thinker who was open to every philosophical innovation."--Craig Brandist, Radical Philosophy

"[E]legant prose and clarity in explaining complex ideas."--Jewish Quarterly

"When a scholarly commentator on Cassirer suddenly turns against him, we should sit up and pay attention."--Paul Bishop, Journal of European Studies

"Edward Skidelsky's Ernst Cassirer: The Last Philosopher of Culture is a much-needed critical overview of Cassirer's life and work from a contemporary Anglophone perspective."--Russell B. Goodman, Metaphilosophy

"[This] is surely the best one-volume intellectual portrait of Cassirer one could hope to read in the English language."--Peter E. Gordon, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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Table of Contents:

Introduction 1
CHAPTER ONE: Prologue: The Alienation of Reason 9
CHAPTER TWO: The Marburg School 22
CHAPTER THREE: The New Logic 52
CHAPTER FOUR: Between Irony and Tragedy 71
CHAPTER FIVE: The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms 100
CHAPTER SIX: Logical Positivism 128
CHAPTER SEVEN: The Philosophy of Life 160
CHAPTER EIGHT: Heidegger 195
CHAPTER NINE: Politics 220

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    File created: 7/11/2017

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