The Space of Culture: Towards a Neo-Kantian Philosophy of Culture (Cohen, Natorp, and Cassirer)


The Space of Culture: Towards a Neo-Kantian Philosophy of Culture (Cohen, Natorp, and Cassirer)



Sebastian Luft presents and defends the philosophy of culture championed by the Marburg School of Neo-Kantianism. Following a historical trajectory from Hermann Cohen to Paul Natorp and through to Ernst Cassirer, this book makes a systematic case for the viability and attractiveness of a philosophical culture in a transcendental vein, in the manner in which the Marburgers intended to broaden Kant's approach. In providing a philosophical study of culture, Luft adheres to important Kantian tenets while addressing empirical studies of culture. The Space of Culture culminates in an exploration of Cassirer's Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, and argues for the extent to which Cassirer's thought was firmly rooted in the Marburg School, despite his originality. At the same time, it shows how Cassirer opened up the philosophical study of culture to new horizons, making it attractive for contemporary philosophy.



Publication Date



Oxford University Press




Kant, Cohen, Natorp




Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Contending with Culture: The "Space of Culture" and Its Investigation 1

Culture, "the Two Cultures," Counter-Culture, Sub-Culture: Culture as the Problem 5

The Marburg School as a Transcendental Philosophy of Culture: Justification of the Facts of Culture 12

Neo-Kantianism: A Forgotten Tradition 16

The Marburg School and the Position of Cassirer within the Marburg School 18

Chapter Overview 20

pt. I The Marburg School. The Basic Position: Transcendental Philosophy as Philosophy of Culture

Hermann Cohen: The Transcendental Method and Philosophy as a Foundational Science (Grundlegungswissenschaft) of Culture 25

Introduction 25

A Short Presentation of the Philosophical Stance of Neo-Kantianism as Philosophy of Culture: The Journal Logos 29

Hermann Cohen as Head of the Marburg School and the Origins of the "Marburg Method" 33

i. Cohen as German Jew 33

ii. Cohen as founder of the Marburg School and the school community 35

iii. The origins of Neo-Kantianism from the spirit of Positivism: laying out the paradigm of Neo-Kantianism 38

iv. Cohen's approach to Kant: interpretation as history of problems (Problemgeschichte) 41

Cohen's Interpretation of Kant's Notion of Experience 43

The Factum of the Sciences and the Transcendental Method: Reality as "Thing in Itself 48

Critical Philosophy as a Philosophy of Culture and Philosophy as "Foundational Science": From Static to Dynamic A Priori 58

Summary: The Marburg Method as Critical Idealism of Culture; Problems with Cohen's Scientism 70

Paul Natorp and the Broadening of the Marburg Method: The Reconstructive Method as a Way to a Philosophy of Subjectivity; The Logic of Origin 75

Introduction 75

Natorp's Position in the Marburg School: Critical Minister of the Interior; Overview of His Writings 77

i. History of philosophy 79

ii. General logic as theory of science 79

iii. Psychology 82

iv. Social idealism and social pedagogy 83

Broadening the Method: Natorp's Philosophie: Ihr Problem und ihre Problems; From Cohen's Critical Idealism to Natorp's Concept of Philosophy as "Reciprocal Relation" 86

Taking the Subjective Route: Natorp's Sketch of a Transcendental Psychology 92

Natorp's Last Phase: General Logic and Method of Origin; Poiesis as Basic Law of Spirit 103

The Late Natorp: Still a (Neo-)Kantian? 111

pt. II Ernst Cassirer's Philosophy of Symbolic Formation as a Transcendental Philosophy of Culture

The Transformation of the "Transcendental Method" into a Critique of the Plurality of Cultural Formations 119

Introduction 119

Three Unorthodox Ways to the Symbolic: Natorp, Warburg, Goethe 124

i. Natorp and Poiesis 124

ii. Warburg and myth 133

iii. Goethe and primal phenomena 143

The Scientific Road to the Symbolic: From Substance to Function 153

The Symbolic Forms: A Methodological Pluralism as Complementarism, and a Brief Survey of the Symbolic Forms of Myth, Language, and Knowledge 163

i. Language 168

ii. Knowledge 172

The System of Symbolic Formation: The Relation of the Individual Logics and the General Logic of the Symbolic 176

The Philosophy of Symbolic Formation as a Critique of Culture: Symbolic Idealism 180

The System of Symbolic Formation and the Philosophy of Culture: Metaphilosophical Discussions 186

Introduction 186

The Quantity, Order, and Relation of the Symbolic Forms and the Transcendental Nature of the Philosophy of Symbolic Forms: The Alleged Supremacy of Cognition 188

Symbolic Idealism as Complementarism: What Does a Critique of Culture Accomplish? 208

The Role of Philosophy in the Canon of the Symbolic Order 217

The Question of Ethics, Part I: Cassirer's Analysis of Fascism; Myth as Forever a Possibility 221

The Question of Ethics, Part II; The Life in Culture as the Increase of the Consciousness of Freedom; Cassirer between Kant and Hegel 228

Conclusion 232

Summary. The Marburg School's Project of a Transcendental Philosophy of Culture and Its Culmination in Cassirer 232

The Place of the Individual in Culture: Finite or Infinite? Cassirer Versus Heidegger 236

From the Space of Reasons to the Space of Culture 240

Bibliography 245

Index 257