Two main philosophical issues led Ernst Cassirer to plunge into Jakob von Uexküll’s work. The first one is the problem of teleology in living beings, which Cassirer discusses in "The Problem of Knowledge" inside a critical survey of the epistemological debate about biology in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In this context, Cassirer shows appreciation for Uexküll’s idea of natural teleology understood as the correspondence of the organism to an inner plan that determines it both anatomically and functionally. As to the second point of Cassirer’s confrontation with Uexküll, the focus shifts from the general theory of life to that particular living being that is man. Cassirer does not abandon the biological-theoretical perspective, but he feels the need to develop specific theoretical tools in order to identify, describe, and, if possible, explain the peculiarities of human beings inside the field of living beings, and particularly through the comparison with nonhuman animals. This leads to the definition of the best-known notions of Cassirer’s thought, namely, the concept of symbol, the idea of man as "animal symbolicum". Here Cassirer seeks the handhold of Uexküll’s theoretical biology with a different aim: the definition of the specificity of man in relation to animals. In the final part of the chapter, I then offer an overall evaluation of Cassirer’s reading of Uexküll’s theoretical biology.

Ernst Cassirer’s reading of Jakob von Uexküll. Between natural teleology and anthropology / Brentari, Carlo. - STAMPA. - (2020), pp. 106-121.

Ernst Cassirer’s reading of Jakob von Uexküll. Between natural teleology and anthropology

Carlo Brentari
2020-01-01

Abstract

Two main philosophical issues led Ernst Cassirer to plunge into Jakob von Uexküll’s work. The first one is the problem of teleology in living beings, which Cassirer discusses in "The Problem of Knowledge" inside a critical survey of the epistemological debate about biology in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In this context, Cassirer shows appreciation for Uexküll’s idea of natural teleology understood as the correspondence of the organism to an inner plan that determines it both anatomically and functionally. As to the second point of Cassirer’s confrontation with Uexküll, the focus shifts from the general theory of life to that particular living being that is man. Cassirer does not abandon the biological-theoretical perspective, but he feels the need to develop specific theoretical tools in order to identify, describe, and, if possible, explain the peculiarities of human beings inside the field of living beings, and particularly through the comparison with nonhuman animals. This leads to the definition of the best-known notions of Cassirer’s thought, namely, the concept of symbol, the idea of man as "animal symbolicum". Here Cassirer seeks the handhold of Uexküll’s theoretical biology with a different aim: the definition of the specificity of man in relation to animals. In the final part of the chapter, I then offer an overall evaluation of Cassirer’s reading of Uexküll’s theoretical biology.
Jakob von Uexküll and Philosophy. Life, Environments, Anthropology
London and New York
Routledge
9780367232733
Brentari, Carlo
Ernst Cassirer’s reading of Jakob von Uexküll. Between natural teleology and anthropology / Brentari, Carlo. - STAMPA. - (2020), pp. 106-121.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11572/250421
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