From philosophy to criticism of myth: Cassirer's concept of myth

Synthese 179 (1):135 - 152 (2011)
This article discusses the question whether or not Cassirer's philosophical critique of technological use of myth in The Myth of the State implies a revision of his earlier conception and theory of myth as provided by The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. In the first part, Cassirer's early theory of myth is compared with other approaches of his time. It is claimed that Cassirer's early approach to myth has to be understood in terms of a transcendental philosophical approach. In consequence, myth is conceived as a form of cultural consciousness which is constituted by specific symbolic processes. In the second part, the theoretical assumptions underlying Cassirer's criticism of myth are discussed and compared with his earlier theory. It is argued that there is a strong conceptual and theoretical continuity between Cassirer's early views on myth as a symbolic form and his later critique of technological use of myth
Keywords Hermann Cohen  Myth  Origin  Schelling  Lucien Lévy-Bruhl  Logic of pure knowledge  Crisis  The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms  The Myth of the State  Religion  Representation  Symbolic constitution of meaning
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