The Problem of Knowledge: Philosophy, Science, and History Since Hegel

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Yale University Press, Apr 30, 1969 - Philosophy - 334 pages
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"Cassirer employs his remarkable gift of lucidity to explain the major ideas and intellectual issues that emerged in the course of nineteenth century scientific and historical thinking. The translators have done an excellent job in reproducing his clarity in English. There is no better place for an intelligent reader to find out, with a minimum of technical language, what was really happening during the great intellectual movement between the age of Newton and our own."—New York Times.

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Ernst Cassirer was one of those very few modern philosophers who could write with authority on practically all the major areas of philosophy. The fourth book of his extensive series ranges from mathematics to theoretical physics to biology and finishes with history. I am not qualified to comment on such a wide variety of subjects, and will limit my comments to the first few chapters covering the change induced in the concept of mathematical intuition when non euclidean geometry appeared, followed by the analysis of the conceptual changes driven by the discoveries in physics up to about 1935, and the gradual sea change with respect to the nature of biological knowledge from an epistemological viewpoint.
Cassirer's development of these themes are in my opinion simply brilliant and still very relevant to anyone like myself who believes that epistemological controversies are best analyzed from a standpoint of how these questions arose in their historical context. Unquestionably there has been much progress since the untimely death in, I believe, 1944 of Cassirer. He was a master at showing how new concepts altered previous ones in an emergent fashion, and his examples provoke fruitful speculations of how new concepts appearing today influence age old concepts. The fundamentals treated by Cassirer retain their importance so the pertinence of this work will persist into the future.


Experience and Thought in the Construction
Order and Measurement in Geometry
The Concept of Number and Its Logical Foundation
Part II
The Idea of Metamorphosis and Idealistic Morphol
Developmental History as a Problem and a Maxim
Darwinism as a Dogma and as a Principle of Knowl
Developmental Mechanics and the Problem of Cause
The Argument over Vitalism and the Autonomy

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About the author (1969)

Ernst Cassirer, a German neo-Kantian philosopher, taught at several European universities before moving to the United States and teaching at Yale (1941-1944) and Columbia universities. A prolific historian of philosophy, Cassirer was influenced by Immanuel Kant and Georg Hegel but originated his own distinctive doctrine. The centerpiece of Cassirer's thought is his theory of symbolic forms. He construed representation, the ground of symbolic form, to be essentially symbolic, fusing perceptual materials with conceptual meanings. The human species, he taught, is essentially a symbolizing animal. He maintained that symbolic forms are manifest in different modes-languages, myth, art, science, and religion. Cassirer utilized his theory of symbolic forms in the elaboration of a flexible philosophy of culture.

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