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Cassirer's Metaphysics of Symbolic FormsA Philosophical Commentary$
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Thora Bayer

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780300083316

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300083316.001.0001

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Life and Spirit

Life and Spirit

(p.41) 1 Life and Spirit
Cassirer's Metaphysics of Symbolic Forms

Thora Ilin Bayer

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the central distinction of Cassirer's metaphysics—life (Leben) and spirit (Geist). Cassirer understands all metaphysical systems of the twentieth century as tending in one or the other of these two directions. A full understanding of what life and spirit mean for Cassirer requires not only the definition of the two concepts but also an understanding of their connections with the key ideas of his philosophy of culture, especially his conceptions of dialectic and symbolic form. Cassirer intends his metaphysics of symbolic forms to pass between the horns of the dilemma of life and spirit. To accomplish this, he wishes to show that each of these attains its reality through the transformation of the other.

Keywords:   central distinction, Cassirer's metaphysics, life, Leben, spirit, Geist

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