, 1874-1945, German philosopher. He was a professor at the Univ. of Hamburg from 1919 until 1933, when he went to Oxford; he later taught at Yale and Columbia. A leading representative of the Marburg Neo-Kantian school, Cassirer at first devoted himself to a critical-historical study of the problem of knowledge. This work bore fruit in the monumental Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophie und Wissenschaft der neueren Zeit
(3 vol., 1906-20) and Substanzbegriff und Funktionsbegriff
(1910, tr. Substance and Function,
1923). In his chief work, Philosophie der symbolischen Formen
(3 vol., 1923-29, tr. Philosophy of Symbolic Forms,
1953-57), he applied the principles of Kantian philosophy toward the formation of a critique of culture. His view that all cultural achievements (including language, myth, and science) are the results of man's symbolic activity led Cassirer to a new conception of man as the "symbolic animal." Cassirer wrote many other studies on science, myth, and various historical subjects. These include two written in English: An Essay on Man
(1944) and Myth of the State
See P. A. Schilpp, ed., The Philosophy of Ernst Cassirer (1949, repr. 1973); studies by S. W. Itzkoff (1971), D. R. Lipton (1978), and J. M. Krois (1985).
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