Talk:Ernst Cassirer

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Thanks Clossius. What bothers the *** out of me is how little is said in the article. Cassirer is a giant and the ideas should be talked about, his relations, followers( L Strauss!). AS it is the article is almost an insult to a great body of work. I mean, look at Kenneth Burke's page! Burke is wonderful but it's like comparing Jung to Campbell. Try to get a 2 para summary of Shakespere as an article why don't you! Not Clothius fault, he tried and tired and the catapillar eggs started hatching on this the fairest of topics. It's tempting to undo all this 'manicuring' of moth eaten commentaryWblakesxwblakesx


  • See Wikipedia:Neutral point of view and Wikipedia:Verifiability first.
  • Please do not try to underscore what is "probably the best university in the world" (Berlin university) - such things belong on the web page for Berlin universities (the article does not even say which Berlin university he attended, please supply that information if you can). Even then, if you want to make such a claim, then supply the proper references as to who regarded/regards the Berlin univerity in question to be the best in the world.
  • Please do not try to underscore that regarding him a member of a certain school is "correct" instead supply references to scholars in the field who claim that and any counterclaims.

Nixdorf 14:05, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

No sense arguing against activist minor vandalism here. Never mind, and please go ahead destroying scholarly references if you feel good about it. Clossius 20:14, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Am I sensing a belligerent tone of academic elitism in you? Nixdorf 22:18, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
Not belligerent (how can it be belligerent if I ask you to go ahead with your destructiveness?), but frustrated. And while there is nothing wrong with elitism, especially not academic one (seeing that the academic system is structurally built on it - how are you gonna have a non-elitist academic system? truth by voting?), I don't think it's elitist even in the worst, most pc form of the word to mind this kind of behavior. But really, in what system, other than sheer lust for (minor) vandalism, does it make sense, or give satisfaction, to remove scholarly references? And wikipedia is set up, unfortunately, in such a way that there is no remedy against vandalism of this kind. It is normal, even in the wikipedia, that generally uncontested facts (Cassirer's Neokantianism is a point in case) don't have to be referenced unless they are seriously contested - and then, if this is done, it is sensible to ask for back-up in literature. But as the system is, a certain kind of mind obviously gets a kick out of pushing that Cassirer was no Neokantian (or Xenophanes no Presocratic, or Goethe not born in Frankfurt, or whatever), or to abuse the NPOV policy, and why then should a normal person list books, essays, and encyclopedias, during the precious time she or he has, that "prove" what is being contested? Especially if one is up against destructive energy that finds its fulfillment not in correct facts or good articles, but in busybodying and indeed destruction... it's a struggle one cannot win, because the people one is up against often practically live in the wikipedia as their virtual universe of choice, unless one dedicates more time and energy to it than one should. Clossius 06:32, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
Calling you friends at Wikipedia vandals for upholding official policy is indeed belligerent. But you confuse me for the other person editing this article. I removed the words "and correctly" because I see no need of underscoring it, because everyone knows that this is true, and I removed the words saying Berlin was the greatest university in the world at the time, because that certainly is contested. The page still says he is a neo-Kantian and I don't object to that so I don't know what you are talking about really. I think you might have misunderstood? Nixdorf 07:41, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't think I have. I think that, though it is very unclear what is official wikipedia policy at any given point in time, what is interpreted by some as official policy is often enough used for vandalism, and that it is not always conducive for wikipedia to indeed obey official policy anyway. And certainly I think that this is definitely not a per se friendly environment; if anything, it is set up to be hostile. I also wonder whether it is of any interest whether an arbitrary reader "sees no need" of underscoring that Cassirer was a Neokantian - au contraire, as the article stands now, thanks to a completely unnecessary interference not backed up by any facts or references, it says that Cassirer was considered a Neo-Kantian, which means, in everyday understanding, that he was in fact not. I had added the "and correctly" to make the uncontested claim that he was - whether you "don't object to that" or not, which is hardly the issue here. As regards Berlin, the article used to say that Berlin (and there was only one University of Berlin at that time, which I think is so basic knowledge of academic history for anyone dealing with it that it doesn't need to be pointed out) was probably the best university in the world - and that, for an English-language encyclopedia, is of importance, because otherwise one would not understand why a man like Cassirer preferred a basically unpaid, junior position there to a Harvard professorship (which is almost the opposite of the situation today).
Again, my point is that these statements - that Cassirer was a Neo-Kantian, not just held to be one, and that the University of Berlin around 1900 was probably the best in the world - are generally uncontested points, and that as always, such statements don't need scholarly references to back them up, especially if they stand there, but rather challenging them needs some references. This is the same in academia as on wikipedia: If something more or less generally known is challenged, then you need references for that, and only then might protagonists of the original view cite some references on their part.
Again, re the accussation of belligerent "academic elitism": I actually wish I had the energy to be belligerently academic-elitist here, because clearly that is what is missing from wikipedia at the current point in its development, i.e. that articles are not reliable and serious enough because the 'democratoid' verification mechanisms don't work. Cassirer is a point in case. But this reply was already longer than it should be... Clossius 13:15, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
I am troubled by your entry since I read it as if you disagree with the Wikipedia policy of assuming good faith. It seems you need to go on to that page and discuss this, instead of taking that discussion with me. I further think it is a very deviant behaviour to call someone who repeatedly tries to discuss issues with you a "vandal", it is a misuse of language. I will take out the word "considered", since this is what bothers you. Yes, Berlin only had one univeristy at the time, but please put in a link to the present-day university that corresponds to the one Cassirer worked for. Perhaps it could be called "the center of the academic world at the time", but "probably the best university in the world", is a phrase which reminds me (and a few other I think) of the Carlsberg slogan "probably the best beer in the world". Perhaps it is just commercial culture making phrases like that look odd, but I think it's still a fact of life. It think it is very non-NPOV. Nixdorf 14:05, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
I agree with you that I disagree with the Wikipedia policy of assuming good faith, to the extent that I believe it to be an invalid heuristic. I think the word "vandal" is used correctly here, although of course rhetorically, which on the discussion page is possible; it is certainly not a misuse of language, because it reflects what I do mean (one could only claim, as you do, that I shouldn't think that). I think that to call that "deviant" is beyond the need of comment. And as regards Carlsberg, that is actually a valid point, but it comes rather late in the discussion. (I also agree, if then we do agree on that, that the Carlsberg slogan is very non-NPOV, and also factually incorrect, both objectively and subjectively.) Clossius 11:34, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
My position is to move toward consensus instead of having this unproductive back-and-forth. Encyclopedia's are supposed to be about facts. Either produce citations for the positive account for inclusion, or the inclusion should be dropped. In cases where claims are made like 'best in the world' etc., unless there was a documented, broad consensus, they should be dropped or put specifically on the page of the item. So if U.B. was the best in the world, that should be documented on the U.B. page, not here. So my position is that the article should put this aside and move on to other issues. --Buridan 15:06, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree. Nixdorf 21:35, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
As I said in the very beginning, whatever. Clossius 07:34, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

@Nixdorf: I added the link to Berlin university (there was only one at this point, of course). If this was the best university in Germany back then is, imho, irrelevant to this article.

--Faehn 21:12, 1 March 2006 (UTC)


Ernst Cassirer and Theoretical Biology: Closer than you Think a paper that accepts neo-kantianism in cassirer's roots. another paper referencing his roots. You can use or the philosopher's index to verify upwards of 200+ papers agreeing with the idea that cassirer had neo-kantian roots. It is not widely disputed. --Buridan 15:13, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

I don't think anyone disagrees with you, noone here ever did. Any Neo-kantianism dispute must have been a complete misunderstanding... Nixdorf 21:35, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Intro Rewrite[edit]

I rewrote the intro. For reference this is the old version:

Ernst Cassirer (July 28, 1874April 13, 1945) was a German philosopher. He became a Doctor of Philosophy at University of Marburg in 1899 where he studied with Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp. He was initially a neo-Kantian although he later developed his own philosophy of culture, arguing that all of human's intellectual achievements are a result of our evolutionary experience. ("Kulturwissenschaft"). Today, the late Cassirer is also considered one of the key thinkers of Semiotics.

--Vector4F 03:35, 22 July 2006 (UTC)


I do not think that situating Cassirer against Heidegger, especially in the space of a single paragrah that is not even original to the writer of the article, is a very helpful introduction to the thought of either. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 14:59, 9 December 2006 (UTC).

Translations desperately needed![edit]

As anyone can see, this article is very poor so far. I've check the other Wikipedias and found that the English article is one of the weakest among the major European languages. We desperately need people to translate the content from the other pages (especially German and French) in order to make the English one less of a joke.
-- Howdoesitflee (talk) 02:13, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Minor Edit[edit]

I don't mind Howdoesitflee deleting 'Unsurprisingly' from my sentence: "[Unsurprisingly] Cassirer found that Einstein's theory gave overwhelming support...." Hopefully the reader will recognize that in the first few years [AND LATER] thinkers appropriated Einstein's theory to fit whatever preconceptions they had. We all interpret new knowledge into the framework of our current "knowledge." Fortune432 (talk) 05:13, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

The word sounded like editorializing and thus prompted me to remove it. Also, and though I'm assuming no bad faith from your part, you might want to cool down a bit... Remember that no one owns the article, and that your contributions are liable to be edited and modified—and they most certainly will be! Now, that said, I believe you've made an interesting and valid point about the scientific community's reaction toward Einstein's theory; unfortunately, I'm not as hopeful as you may be about the readers' ability to recognize the point you've made. Well, unless "the reader" is specifically me and not a general expression...? Cheers.
• H☼ωdΘesI†fl∉∈ {KLAT} • 22:33, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

Philosophy of Symbolic Forms[edit]

The sentence

"..Cassirer owes much to Kant's transcendental idealism, which claimed that the actual world cannot be known, but that the human view on reality is shaped by our means of perceiving it."

is wrong about Kant's transcendental idealism; for it does not even make claims about the actual world. Its claims concern pure reason.

Transcendental idealism is a theoretical foundation for Kant's argument that the actual world can be empirically known. Kant is, in fact, an empirical realist.

Therefore, I'll remove the misleading part.

Kopare (talk) 23:50, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

“...I say that things as objects of our senses existing outside us are given, but we know nothing of what they may be in themselves, knowing only their appearances, i. e., the representations which they cause in us by affecting our senses. Consequently I grant by all means that there are bodies outside us, that is, things which, though quite unknown to us as to what they are in themselves, we yet know by the representations which their influence on our sensibility procures us, and which we call bodies, a term signifying merely the appearance of the thing which is unknown to us, but not therefore less actual.” (Kant, Prolegomena..., Part One, § 13, Remark II) This is Transcendental Idealism. (talk) 01:24, 5 January 2015 (UTC)Purlie Stebbins


There is said in the article:

"Mazlish (2000) however notes that Cassirer in his "The Philosophy of the Enlightenment" (1932) focuses exclusively on ideas, ignoring the political and social context in which they were produced."

What is "Mazlish (2000)? I do not find it under "further reading". --13Peewit (talk) 08:51, 25 August 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps you mean this essay: Bruce Mazlish, "Ernst Cassirer's Enlightenment: An Exchange with Robert Wokler" in Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture, Volume 29, 2000, p. 349 -359? --13Peewit (talk) 09:04, 25 August 2012 (UTC)

Ned Curthoys: The Legacy of liberal Judaism[edit]

The subtitle is Ernst Cassirer & Hannah Arendt. There are two chapters on Cassirer. I agree with the earlier comment that this is an entirely unsatisfactory article but I do not have the expertise to extend it. Cassirer was a key figure in pre-war German philosophy but there is far too little here to help understand what he was on about. (talk) 16:03, 11 October 2014 (UTC)