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Monday, June 23, 2008

CASSIRER VS. THE GREAT DIVIDE

In "Mythicity Threat or Menace" I cited the following quotation from Eric Gould, the fellow who came up with the term "mythicity:"

"The fact that classical and totemistic myths have to refer to some translinguistic fact-- to the Gods and Nature-- proves not that there are Gods, but that our talents for interpreting our place in the world may be distinctly limited by the nature of language."

Clearly for Gould, language and linguistic narratives (like myths) are mediating forces that can strive to capture the nature of reality, but they will be always be limited by the nature of the interpreter who makes the language. Here Gould is very Kantian, keeping the unknowable noumenon strictly apart from the phenomenal reality in which we all participate.

However, Cassirer-- something of a re-interpreter of Kant-- offers another perspective. The online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, summarizing some of the points from Cassirer's LOGIC OF THE CULTURAL SCIENCES, says:

'whereas the natural sciences take their evidential base from the sphere of thing perception, the cultural sciences take theirs from the sphere of expressive perception, and, more specifically, from the fundamental experience of other human beings as fellow selves sharing a common intersubjective world of “cultural meanings.”'

And later:

"In the end, it is only such a never to be fully completed process of historical-philosophical interpretation of symbolic meanings that confers objectivity on both the Naturwissenschaften and the Geisteswissenschaften — and thereby reunites the two distinct sides of Kant's original synthesis."

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cassirer/

Whether or not Cassirer successfully grounds this "objectivity" in LOGIC (which is one of his few works I've not read) I can't say for certain. But I expect that even his attempt to do so, buttressed by his concept of "symbolic forms," will prove more interesting to me in seeking a ground for mythicity than does Eric Gould's self-imposed limitations.

More on this later, probably when I get round to talking more about JUNG AND PHENOMENOLOGY.

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