This chapter focuses on Cassirer's conception of basis phenomena, the understanding of which requires not only a description of the three basis phenomena—I, act, and the work—but also an explanation of how these phenomena are connected with Cassirer's metaphysics of life, spirit, and symbolic form. Cassirer does not directly spell out such connections, but it is possible to draw out from the text the issues they involve. Cassirer begins his discussion of the basis phenomena with Goethe, who formulated the notion of three primary or original phenomena in three maxims. In explicating his own view of the first basis phenomenon, Cassirer takes up Goethe's notions of life and movement and expands upon them in his notions of temporality, I, Self, and feeling.
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