"The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms is a milestone in twentieth century philosophy. Promoting a philosophical vision informed by Kant, it incorporates the philosophical advances achieved in the nineteenth century by German Idealism and Neo-Kantianism, whilst acknowledging the contributions made by his contemporary phenomenologists. It also encompasses empirical and historical research on culture and the most contemporary work on myth, linguistics and psychopathology. As such, it ranks in philosophical importance along with other major works of the twentieth century, such as Edmund Husserl's Logical Investigations, Martin Heidegger's Being and Time, and Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
In the first volume, Cassirer explores the symbolic form of language. Already recognized by thinkers in the tradition of German Idealism, such as Wilhelm von Humboldt, language is the primary medium by which we interact with others and form a common world. As Cassirer emphasizes in the famous Davos Debate with Heidegger, 'there is one objective human world, in which a bridge is built from individual to individual. That I find in the primal phenomenon of language.' The famous trias Cassirer discerns in the functioning of language - the functions of expression (Ausdruck), presentation (Darstellung), and signification (Bedeutung) - has become paradigmatic for accounts of language, philosophical, linguistic, and anthropological alike."
Sebastian Luft, Professor of Philosophy, Marquette University, USA.
This new translation makes Cassirer's seminal work available to a new generation of scholars. Each volume includes a translator's introduction by Steve G. Lofts, a foreword by Peter E. Gordon, a glossary of key terms, and an index.