Volume 23, Issue 1, Fall 2018
From the Critique of Reason to a Critique of Culture
Cassirer’s Transformation of Kant’s Transcendental Philosophy
This paper argues that Cassirer’s development of ‘the critique of reason into a critique of culture’ was prompted by two motives that ultimately seem to collide. On the one hand, Cassirer attempts to overcome the Kantian dichotomy between the faculties of sensibility and the understanding. To this end, he turns to the schemata of the Critique of Judgment. On the other hand, Cassirer expands the scope of transcendental philosophy to include cultural domains such as myth, language, and the human sciences. His desire to maintain both the differences between these domains and the unity of reason however leads to a new dualism between the material modalities of the symbols and their ideal, recurring, forms. Yet, by adopting both a constitutive and a regulative conception of objectivity, Cassirer renders this duality legitimate, and his motives for a philosophy of culture on a Kantian foundation compatible.