Bedford Branch Seminar
My paper aims to contribute to the resurgence of interest in Cassirer, and to introduce his thought to education studies and educational philosophy, areas in which he appears to be all but unknown. Cassirer offers historical and ethical views of the constitution and development of knowledge which challenge dominant trends in current educational thinking. He is exemplary in his refusal of the intellectual schism, which C.P. Snow (1964) dubbed “the two cultures,” between the sciences and the humanities, a schism all too often demarcated in poorly conceived terms of morality, value, and truth. He is also exemplary in his assessment of mythical thought, and its role in contemporary political life.
Following a brief biographical and historical sketch, I will outline some of the main lines of flight in Cassirer’s thought, after which I will concentrate in a little more detail on two areas: his philosophies of human temporal being (here, Heidegger plays an important role), and mythical thinking. The title of the presentation is drawn from one of Cassirer’s favourite figures, itself a quote from Heraclitus which reads: “Men do not understand how that which is torn in different directions comes into accord with itself – harmony in contrariety, as in the case of the bow and the lyre” (Cassirer 1944, 222-23, 228; see also 1925a, 135). For Cassirer, this figure encapsulates the primary and primal movement out of which human culture is born: it is, for Cassirer, an image of the productive friction and tension between the energies of conservation and renewal.
The event is free. Tickets are available here.
Part of the PESGB Bedford 2016/17 seminar series.