ABSTRACTS, Cassirer Studies V/VI (2012-2013)

F. CAPEILLÈRES, Artistic Intuition within Cassirer’s System of Symbolic Forms. A Brief Reassessment
The Cassirer Renaissance initiated in the 80’s has focused, in the last decade, on
art as a symbolic form. It may hence be time to reiterate a fundamental assessment
of the principles of Cassirer’s philosophy in order to take good measure
of its actual achievements and its present fruitfulness regarding art and aesthetics.
The present article tries to examine Cassirer’s doctrine of symbolic
forms in order to assess precise and palpable consequences regarding not so
much the field of Cassirer’s studies as a historiographical enterprise, but,
rather, regarding what the actual doctrine of art, produced by the philosophy
of the symbolic forms, allows us to conceive of in the world of culture.
Keywords: Cassirer Renaissance – art – aesthetics – symbolic form – function

A.S. HOEL, Images and Measurements across Arts and Sciences
This paper explores the inner connections between images and their traditional
“others”, such as concepts, words, and numbers. Instead of inquiring into images
as static entities, it focuses on what images do, that is, on their operational
functioning. The aim is to develop a notion of images as «differential tools» that
play an integral role in exploration, knowledge, and discovery, no matter
whether they are used for artistic or scientific purposes. What I argue is that the
development of such a bridging notion requires a rethinking and broadening of
the notion of image, and perhaps more surprisingly, of the notion of measurement.
Further, what I argue is that Cassirer’s notion of symbolic function is a
promising candidate for a bridging notion of mediation that brings to the fore
the inner connections between the sensible and the intelligible, the presentational
and the discursive, the visual and the logical – and, by extension, between
images and measurements. As Cassirer conceives it, mediation amounts to a
kind of «seeing», and simultaneously, to a kind of «measuring». Drawing on this
idea, I argue that media and technologies operate by a «differential logic», and
further, that the differential mode of operation is the inner link between imaging
methods, usually classified as qualitative and observational, and measurement
methods, commonly considered as quantitative and calculative.
Keywords: symbolic function – images – measurement – technological mediation – differential tools

M. LAUSCHKE, Presymbolic Formation. Reflections on Bodily Communication
between Humans and Artefacts
This paper tries to show that it can be fruitful to trace aesthetic experience
back to its bodily origins, or at least to consider bodily felt processes as a part
of aesthetic experience that cannot be ignored. “Presymbolic formation”, that
is the thesis advanced here, is a phase that precedes symbolic formation and
accompanies it continuously. The focus of the reflections about aesthetic experience,
therefore, will lie on a part of the process of symbolic formation hypothetically
called “presymbolic” or “subsymbolic”. This part, it will be argued,
is determined by the bodily communication between an artefact and a
recipient. Therefore, the meaning of the term “bodily communication” will be
explained and, in a second step, clarified by analysing the aesthetic perception
of space in the concrete example of Mark Rothko’s image-bodies. The reason
why it could be helpful to talk about bodily communication and presymbolic
formation with reference to Cassirer will be presented in the last step.
Keywords: presymbolic formation – bodily communication – aesthetic experience – resonance – aesthetic perception of space

I. MELAND, The Doctrine of Basis Phenomena. A Phenomenological Foundation for the Philosophy of Symbolic Forms?
Even if the doctrine of basis phenomena adds something new to Cassirer’s philosophy, it is not foreign to Cassirer’s philosophy and does not signify a break with Cassirer’s philosophical project as a whole. At the base of this argument
lies the view that the originary phenomena of “life”, “language” and “the symbolic
function” are crucial for Cassirer’s critique and revision of Cartesian dualism:
man is symbolical through and through. If it is the primacy of relation
that constitutes the true a priori of Cassirer’s semiotic theory of meaning, then
the doctrine of basis phenomena constitutes the phenomenological grounding
for this theory of meaning. Thus the doctrine of basis phenomena can be characterized as a “fundamental phenomenology”, i.e. a doctrine about what allows reality to appear to us at all. The basis phenomena are brought into view
through a “return” to the originary phenomena of “life” and “spirit”, which reveals
that the process of generating and transforming forms corresponds to the
basis phenomenon of the symbolic function. This “adequation” of the processual
and the relational means that we cannot really separate “life” and “spirit”
and that there is no access to “Being”, except through symbolic forms. In turn,
this means that the only possible type of metaphysics is a cultural metaphysics
and that Cassirer’s philosophy of culture implies a hermeneutical transformation
of philosophy itself. The basis phenomena’s place is at the base of this
hermeneutics, which is a cultural hermeneutics of freedom.
Keywords: philosophy of culture – theory of meaning – symbolic function –
basis phenomena – hermeneutics

CARMEN METTA, Ausdruck-Ausdrucksloses: A Critique of the Work-Phenomenon
The “Work-Phenomenon” as Urphänomen is the object of a metaphysics of
experience.Whereas for Kant experience is the knowledge of appearances, in
so far as the intellect spells them out, in this paper appearances are regarded
as the object of expression, which allows of a tertium non datur between intuition
and intellect. The acknowledgment of the expressive function of experience
allows in turn to conceive the semblance inherent in every work as constitutive
of the work’s non-derivable and thus originary character. Given that
it is Cassirer metaphysics’ task to give a “reading” of the phenomenon, in that
it presupposes a hermeneutical intuitability of the phenomena, metaphysics
interprets the work not just as a medium and a symbol, but as an irreducible
phenomenon of the duration of life. Such interpretation of a metaphysics of
the work seems to point out the possibility for the I not to estrange itself irremediably,
but to a reversible extent, whereby to experience a caesura in the
phantasmagory of the pure symbolic and to face the expressionless, like it is
adumbrated in Benjamin’s critique of the symbolic.
Keywords: Ausdrucksloses – experience – loss of experience – form ofthought – form of life

S. MÜLLER, Aby Warburgs “Grundlegende Bruchstücke zu einer pragmatischen Ausdruckskunde”
The paper briefly outlines the complex genesis of “fragments”, a collection of
Warburg’s records, which on the one hand anticipates the author’s working
process, on the other many issues and ideas of his later texts. A particular attention
is paid to the use of the term “expression”, used by the author for linguistic,
physical and artistic manifestations.
Keywords: impression – expression – association – awareness – fine arts



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