Cassirer, Ernst (1874-1945) - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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The Nature of Symbolic Representation

A fundamental problem for the Kantian philosophy had been to understand the conceptualization of experience, in particular the relation between concepts and that to which they apply. For Cassirer, conceptualization, that is, the apprehension of the manifold of experience as instantiating general notions or as perceptual matter exhibiting a conceptual structure, is merely a special case of what he calls "symbolization," "symbolic representation," or simply "representation." Symbolic representation, according to Cassirer, is the essential function of human consciousness and is cardinal to our understanding not only of the structure of science, but also of myth and religion, of language, of art, and of history. Man is a symbolizing animal.

Symbolization creates, and exhibits within our consciousness, connections between perceptual signs and their significance or meaning. It is the nature of symbolic representation in general to constitute, or bring into being, a totality...

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This section contains 2,302 words
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Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Cassirer, Ernst (1874-1945) from Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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