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11.03.2018 13:49 Alter: 41 days

Ernst Cassirer's Philosophy of Symbolic Forms

Call for Publications

Theme: Ernst Cassirer's Philosophy of Symbolic Forms
Subtitle: The Method of Culture
Publication: Edited Volume
Deadline: 15.5.2018

Over the course of the last decade, we have witnessed a dramatic
increase in scholarship on Ernst Cassirer. Publications have been
dedicated both to specific aspects of the Philosophy of Symbolic
Forms and Cassirer’s philosophy of culture, as well as to
encompassing assessments of his work as one of the most significant
contributions to the intellectual landscape of the twentieth century.
This revival was certainly boosted by the advancement of the
Hamburger Ausgabe, in particular the Nachgelassene Werke und

Such a renaissance in Cassirer scholarship warrants a careful
investigation into the methodologies and systematic significances of
his contribution. Our project aims to cast light on how, and to what
extent, his approach to identify and criticize the various symbolic
functions represents a constitutive method of discovery and criticism
of all symbolic forms: from language to myth and knowledge, from
religion to art and science. Such cultural forms share a symbolic
origin whose constitution Cassirer describes in normative terms.
Cultural forms are thus understood as the necessary expressions of
the human spirit that result from the function of symbolic formation.

All symbolic forms are cultural forms insofar as they have been
structured and determined according to a unique activity that cannot
be reduced to its results. Said differently, if symbolic forms
constitute human culture, these forms are in turn grounded by the
same law of symbolic formation, albeit their constitutive idea is
different. It is our contention that Cassirer’s encompassing
perspective on culture owes its possibility to a unique and fruitful
method that still awaits its concrete formulation (and critique).

With this focus, we also intend to explore the interaction between
the symbolic forms, as sensible significations of ideas and values.
This perspective brings one particular conundrum to the fore:
Philosophy itself (as the reflection on this method) is at the same
time immersed in symbolic formation, as any symbolic form is. So, the
question is: how can philosophy take up a function of symbolic

In our volume, we plan to discuss the theoretical basis and the
overall method of his works, which form the cornerstone of his
philosophical proposal, and highlight its influence on the
contemporary philosophical debate on human culture. Hence, we welcome
papers that address the concept of method in Cassirer’s philosophy of
symbolic forms from a variety of perspectives. Possible topics
include, but are not limited to:

- the tension between symbolic function and symbolic forms
- the hierarchy among symbolic forms, and possible ways of ordering
- philosophy of symbolic forms as a philosophy of culture
- the status and role of basis phenomena (Urphänomene)
- the relationship between mimesis and poiesis, as well as between
 ergon and energeia
- the genesis of language
- whether, why and to what extent art can be considered as a symbolic

Anne Pollok (University of South Carolina, USA) and Luigi Filieri
(University of Pisa, Italy)

Edizioni ETS, Pisa, funded by the Fondazione Silvestro Marcucci

Confirmed invited contributors:
F. Capeilléres, M. Ferrari, P. Keller, S. Luft, L. Patton, B. Recki,
S. Truwant, T. Viola

Abstracts should be between 4,000-7,000 characters including spaces
(the respective papers must not exceed 35,000 characters including
spaces and notes).

All anonymized abstracts should be sent (.docx and .pdf format
preferred) to and by 15 May 2018.

Notes of acceptance will be sent out by 15 July 2018.
The final papers are due by 1 December 2018.


Dr. Anne Pollok, Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208