Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 April 2021
In this chapter, Simon Truwant claims that the philosophy of symbolic forms formulates a critique of and response to two dialectically related crises of culture: an intellectual crisis resulting from a lack of overall cultural unity and orientation, and a political crisis resulting from the political sphere overstepping its legitimate boundaries. First, this chapter analyses Cassirer’s accounts of these crises, and their interconnection, in terms of objectivity and truth. On this basis, it appears that Cassirer provides a useful philosophical framework for tackling not only the crisis of Western culture at the beginning of the twentieth century but also the “post-truth condition” that haunts it today. Next, by invoking Kant’s idea of the “cosmopolitan conception of philosophy,” Truwant argues that the philosophy of symbolic forms was set up to deal with this twofold crisis from the very beginning. This means that Cassirer’s later writings on the sociopolitical task of philosophy did not break with his systematic writings from the 1920s but rather revealed the motivation for his earlier thought.