Cassirer and Critical Ethics Kant: the Question about the Interpretation

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The article discusses the debate in the German and Anglo-American Neo-Kantianism, enduring, around the ethical theories of Ernst Cassirer. Unlike their teachers in Marburg school Cohen and Natorp that defined ethics as an important part of a philosophical system, the philosopher did not write any work on ethics. In the article there are parallels between the ethics of the Cohen and ethics of Natorp. Cassirer refers to the ethics of Kant not only for the purpose of disclosing the specifics of their own genetic approach and critical method, but also tries to reconstruct the underlying concepts - the concept of autonomy and the concept of freedom, individual personality, which became the starting points in the system of ethical idealism. The boundary between own knowledge and understanding of the world, lies between being and proper, necessary and possible. For Cassirer’s ethical thought of Kant is the most important condition of overcoming of naturalism and epistemological constraints of the program Marburg school. Disputes, which began about the philosophical legacy of Cassirer in 50-ies of XX century, today once again became topical in connection with the discussion of his belonging to the Neo-Kantianism. Turning point becomes emigration philosopher from Germany after the establishment of the national socialist dictatorship. In Anglo-American literature this stage in his artistic biography is defined as a cultural philosophy and anthropological, fully borivali with the legacy of Kant’s transcendental philosophy. The article reveals own theoretical position Cassirer formed during neokantians influence and specifically expressed in the justification of a critical ethics of Kant. His congeniality with Kant is manifested in the development of semiotic choices transcendental philosophy. The article substantiates the position that ethical motives and critical Cassirer’s position can be found in a late stage of creation, when the philosopher in “The Myth of the State” reveals the transcendental history of moral consciousness.

About the authors

L I Tetyuev

N.G. Chernyshevsky State University of Saratov

Author for correspondence.
Astrachanskaja St., 83, Saratov, Russia, 410000


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