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2010-03-28
Heidegger and the Cass. footnotes
Today I am comparing my old, defective, James S. Churchill translation of "Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics" with an edition published in 1934 by Verlag Gerhard Shulte-Bulmke, Frankfurt am Main.
What struck me was how the 1962 Indiana U. Press translation had largely stayed with the German footnotes of this 1934 edition: footnotes vary across the langauges as "WW (Cass.)" versus "Works (Cass.)".  The 1962 replicates the German in one place introducing the full surname (Cassirer) in an early footnote, but nowhere "Ernst Cassirer".

But does this demolition of Kant not arise out of the lectures at Davos? The 1934 edition has an untitled "preface" saying "und bei den Davoser Hochschulkursen im Maerz d.J.) ", i.e., in spring 1929 with Ernst Cassirer - but with no mention of Cassirer.

In the Richard Taft translation, a note indicates only that Heidegger's footnotes are to the Cassirer edition.

Cassirer did not live to return to reclaim his teaching position in Germany.  He began his career in Marburg under Hermann Cohen. Just as no street in Marburg is yet named for Cohen, so there seems to be no street in Germany named for Ernst Cassirer.  But there are those named for Hannah Arendt, are there not?

It seems to me that decency now dictates that in a book by Martin Heidegger that there is no place for an abbreviation of the name Cassirer.  From any reading of the letters of Heidegger denouncing neo-Kantians to the new post-1933 authorities there can be no excuse: if you propose to translate Heidegger and to preserve his footnotes, let the merre symbol "Cass." hereafter be "disclosed" as "Ernst Cassirer".

There are many forms of philosophical forgetting: but I do remember Paul_Natorp_Str. in Cappel, bezirk Marburg. 

For a book on the Davos conference, we have Michael Friedman's "A parting of the ways: Carnap, Cassirer, and Heidegger"

2010-04-02
Heidegger and the Cass. footnotes
The Northwestern U Press bilingual text of Vom Wesen des Grundes/The Essence of Reasons has alternate Ger/Eng "WW (Cassirer)" and "Werke (Cassirer ed.)".
It is now my view that given the fate (Schicksal) of Ernst Cassirer in the historical (geschichtlich) outcome of 1933, that we owe a remembrance in naming him in full: "Ernst Cassirer".

When you consider that "Kant" almost invariably means "Immanuel Kant" and - at least in French - one can be assured that "Heidegger" means "Martin Heidegger", yet in the last (?) UNESCO volume on philosophy for world readers and teachers, that some of Heidegger's equals (if not betters) pass unnamed, we may feel that Cassirer is deserving of this respect.

The naming of streets for philosophers in Marburg is not the only case where some philosophers are missing: in the case of Natorp and Marburg with its missing synagogue, his street is not named "Natorp-Strasse" but "Paul-Natorp-Strasse".

Just as the British and Americans "forget" the fire bombing of Wuerzberg, so a great many things relating to Marburg and its famous philosophers pass unmentioned because "unnamed".

Somethings in history must be called by their name  before we can begin forgetting (Avishai Margalit): how did Ernst Cassirer come to die in America?  Why has Hamburg no street named for him?  What amends did Kiel make to Gerhardt Husserl, the other Husserl?

The firing of professors in Faculties of Law and Political Science ensured that many names would be forgotten.  In Timaeus, we are reminded that a name should be fitting (Heidegger can be interpreted as putting Kant on trial for the "crimes" of Philo Judaeus - that other "violent reader" of sense and reason.)  If we refrain from saying "Heidegger, the Nazi, thought that ..." then we might consider that some "balance" is restored if the next UNESCO volume on the past 100 years of philosophy balances Rickert and Cohen, Jaspers and Cassirer, with any treatment of Heidegger, Derrida and after.

There was, of course, "Another" Cassirer who authored a book "Kant's First Critique".

It was Heidegger on television who assured his listeners that electromagnetic wave propagation was understood by 4 or 5 - few - as few would understand his Thought - for in the Timaeus, as Philo of Alexandria read, few could be expected to understand.  But Heidegger simply overlooks any mention to his entralled remote listeners the names of Ernst Cassirer, author of "Substance and Function" or Hermann Weyl, author of "Space, Time and Matter". 

Near Todtnauberg, I, too, made my little pilgrimage along Martin-Heidegger-Weg (due to the efforts of Herbert Korte and Robert Schwalbe) - but I like to think that the hut we saw on the hillside was not in fact Elfride's - that the farmer we asked along the road did not in fact know the historical hut - a failure of "huten", if you will ... 

On another walk - this time to Dachau camp as memorial, I recall seeing farm machinery in a field next to the road: "Mengele" was what it said as identifying "symbol".  We now know Rolf M. was sending proceeds to Josef M. - and it may be that Heidegger on mechanized field instruments had seen the same (he chose to juxtapose the two in his infamous phrase on the crematoria and field implements.)  We now know that it was Mengele's boss who arranged for Heidegger to be spared reserve service at the end of WW II.  There has never been an adequate review of Heidegger's asthma and "cardiac" issues having been so aggravated when in uniform - and then to juxtapose his being enthralled with Juengers "Stahlgewitter" and the resolute soldier ( in a 30's essay he puns on "uni-form", perhaps at the expense of Cassirer.)  Yet Heidegger lived much longer than his mother and father, in spite of his fragile condition.  Heidegger did not take resolute command of a boys "regiment" and go with them resolutely into heroic death.  Cassirer boards a cargo ship and sails to America as just so much excess baggage.

When reading Elfride's letter to Malvine Husserl, it is easy to forget that Gerhart Husserl was a professor of Law - and Heidegger had already written his letter about replacing those in the faculties of law who could not accept Fuehrer, Blut und Boden (here again, Timaeus and the mis-reading by Philo of Alexndria, that "Philo Judaeus",  who brought in the Logos to future theology.)

Did Gerhardt ever return to Kiel (the home of Weyl)?  Is there any street bearing his name - for it could not be just "Husserl-Strasse".  Is there any plaque on the Husserl home in Goettingen?  Many things must be named before we can feel more at ease to drop epithets such as "...Heidegger, the cowardly, thought that ...".

In anything that Heidegger wrote on Trakl, did he ever muse on the fate of Trakl, his last days and hours?

Note in memory of the fate of Adolf Reinach and Wolfgang Husserl and the missing family names/Mesusah on many houses/doorframes of Marburg am Lahn, historical "home" to Cohen, Cassirer, Heidegger and Arendt.

2010-04-09
Heidegger and the Cass. footnotes
Over at http://aule-browser.blogspot.com/2010/04/heidegger-and-cassirer.html I have posted what follows as an invitation to look at the philosphy eBook format issue that I introduce over at the philpapers Misc forum:

Heidegger and Cassirer Over at phil.aule-browser.com/truth.htm I have a series of links to Curl versions of an eText: Heidegger's "On the Essence of Truth" in John Sallis' English translation (the Curl RTE browser plugin is required to view these pages as an eBook.)

A more interesting version might juxtapose the Heidegger of 1929-1945 with Ernst Cassirer.

It is clear from the Freiburg Inaugural lecture through the lectures of 1930 and 1932 which comprise the 1943 "The Essence of Truth" that Husserl is not the target.  Heidegger had effectively disposed of Jaspers of Heidelberg in his 1927 "Sein und Zeit" and may have imagined that he would dispose of Einstein in a second volume.  The remaining target was Cassirer in Hamburg.

Cassirer's 1923 first volume of his "Philosophy of Symbolic Forms" opens with the concept of "being".  That volume closes with what may be a clue to the Heidegger opus: "wisan".  What we have here is not just a Heidegger pun on "Wesen" but a clue to Heidegger's language and philological idiosyncracies: only in emerging in the opening that is the historic "facing" (in my interpretation, the Warrior out of concealment, onto the field of battle or the lover emerging from her dissimulations in clothing, manner, attitude) that in victory or defeat we become known as what we were (the destined great nation, the destined lover, geworfen, geschicht.)

Another clue is in the Cassirer quote from Plato's "Sophist" on "koinon ton genos" when placed in contrast to "koinon genos" in Section 6 of the Heidegger essay with its emphasis on sophistry.

That Husserl is simply side-stepped should be clear from the 1943 publication blithely ignoring the Landgrebe edition of "Erfahrung u. Urteil" in Heidegger's short-schrift of any distinction of Satz and Urteil and his outrageous justoposition of Satz/Logos and later stated equivalence of "Aussage" and "Urteil".

Heidegger pun's should never be ignored any more than those of the wittier farceur, Sartre (Cassirer was known for his wit and prodigious memory.)  When Heidegger choses to speak of "Umweg" in connection with his "Frage" we cannot ignore "Umfrage" and the more obvious "Abstimmung" and "Einstimmung".

Heidegger's erudtion in history of philosphy far outstripped that of Husserl and in the late 1920's and early 1930's he had listened to enough of Jaspers on his visits to Heidelberg to know where he stood.  But in his years in Marburg, Cassirer had still been the legend (when Heidegger became Rector of Freiburg, Cassirer was still Rector of the new Hamburg University.)  In terms of background in mathematics and science, Heidegger had only his brief exposure after he left dogmatic Catholicism (his later pronouncements on electromagnetic wave propagation on German television are trully laughable when you consider Cassirer's own books on science and specifically on relativity (on an equal footing with Russell and Reichenbach.)

Of course the critical confrontation with Cassirer comes later, at Davos, but tools for annotating philosphical texts could help to illuminate what would otherwise remain obscure.
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Many of these tasks are difficult to pursue on the web using only text, HTML and PDF's - and the options are very limited.  The Curl language, on the other-hand, is almost a LISP for the web - but it is not entirely open-source yet.  The Curl RTE browser plugin to view the Heidegger interpretation examples is available for free for Win, Mac and Linux at http://www.curl.com/download/rte/index.php