Volume 33, Issue 3/4, 2017
Cassirer on Communicology
Richard L. Lanigan
Ernst Cassirer’s Theory and Application of Communicology
From Husserl via Bühler to Jakobson
The Human Science of Communicology culminates from several disciplinary developments, largely viewed as singular constitutions and foundational to differential attitudes about the nature and function of philosophy and science in apposition (triadic relation) to human embodiment. In more familiar terms, the idea of Culture stands in contrast to the idea of Science, because there is a measured distinction between what human beings express and what they perceive. In Modernity, we know this apposition (Human–Culture–Science) as the emergence of (1) the distinct cultural disciplines (expression of human embodiment) over against the (2) the distinct scientific disciplines (perception of physical nature). Ernst Cassirer explores this problematic in The Logic of the Cultural Sciences (1942) where he distinguishes Culture as the perception-of-expression and Science as the perception-of-objects. Cassirer’s thematic explication is to be found in The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1923–1996) where his semiotic phenomenology of human communication is articulated in detail such that Science is bracketed by Culture. In Cassirer’s terms of symbolic forms, we can distinguish the semiotic distinction among (1) the Perception of Expression (Culture) where (a) Myth (Langage) and (b) Knowledge (Parole) contrast with (2) the Perception of Objects (Science) in the form of (c) Speech (Langue) and (d) Art (Discours). Symbols are constitutive of social semiotics (sensuous expression) and the intersubjective phenomenology of human embodiment (intuitive expression) in the tradition of Immanuel Kant and Edmund Husserl.