Synthese 179 (1):59 - 73 (2011)

Oswald Schwemmer
Humboldt-University, Berlin
The article reconsiders the Davos-debate between Martin Heidegger and Ernst Cassirer to reassess the discussion of interrelations and differences of their philosophies. The focus is the fecund motifs of thought that each philosopher presents. These are worked out by dispersing the contexts. Heidegger's primary motifs of thought are identified through the work of Jean-Francois Lyotard as the question of finitude understood as continuance of the event and as the act of understanding the event. The primary motif of thought in Cassirer's philosophy is identified with the question of form and formation. It is argued that it is possible to think the motifs of event and form in connection with each other. The focal point of connection between their philosophies is uncovered in the relations of form between persons—in the rigorous practice of promising and demanding. The philosophies of Heidegger and Cassirer are thus read in a way where they productively enhance each other without minimizing the differences of their motifs of thought
Keywords Cassirer  Heidegger  Philosophy of symbolic forms  Event  Lyotard  Practice
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-009-9628-3
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