The struggle of titans - Ernst Jünger and Ernst Cassirer
vitalist and enlightenment philosophies of technology in weimar Germany
When you read the planned fourth volume of Ernst Cassirer's Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (Philosophie der symbolischen Formen IV, written around 1928–29, but only published as the first volume of his Nachlass in 1995), you find an acute diagnosis of the philosophical situation in Germany and indeed the whole of Europe at the time. The main opposition to Cassirer's own position and the broad neo-Kantian tradition to which he belongs is taken to be the Lebensphilosophie, vitalism – here analysed and attacked in its different shapes in Klages, Scheler, Bergson and Heidegger. At the famous Davos confrontation between Cassirer and Heidegger in 1929, this opposition between the tempered rationalism of neo-Kantianism and the decisionist irrationalism of vitalism disguised as phenomenology naturally forms the axis of the discussion: the mature Bildungsbürger Cassirer bases his lecture on his recently developed doctrine of "symbolic forms' – a sweeping generalization of the neo-Kantian emphasis on the philosophy of science to cover also language, myth, the arts and so on – while the young rebel Heidegger places himself on the side of life, with his blending of phenomenology with philosophy of life in his doctrine of the hard destiny of the existence of Dasein which is able to realize this destiny only in certain "Spitzenaugenblicke' in life.
Stjernfelt, F. (2012)., The struggle of titans - Ernst Jünger and Ernst Cassirer: vitalist and enlightenment philosophies of technology in weimar Germany, in A. Sissel Hoel & I. Folkvord (eds.), Ernst Cassirer on form and technology, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 92-112.
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