Portland State University. Department of History
Date of Award
Master of Arts (M.A.) in History
1 online resource (66 p.)
Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945), History -- Philosophy
The problem of a method of historical analysis played an integral part in the scholarship of Ernst Cassirer, German philosopher and historian. An Essay on Man, the work for which he is best known in the United State, includes his most lucid discussion of the tasks and aims of the historian. The historian must reconstruct the past, infusing it with the immediacy of a living expression. “Rebirth of the past” gives man a better view of his potentialities, a freedom to see beyond the demands, characteristics, and contingencies of the moment.
This view of history and the historian’s task was reiterated by Cassirer in several of his works on theory and was implicit in a number of his books and articles on historical topics. The following critique will focus on Cassirer’s discussion of history and on his historical method as it was demonstrated in several of his writings.
Despite the criticism of Cassirer’s penchant for structure and affinity for schemata, he has had a profound influence on the general community of historians. His work in many areas was unique and he did considerable original research. He has had some influence on subsequent historians, especially with some of the specifics of his data. Even the abundance of criticisms of his works attests to the to the seriousness with which he has been viewed as a historian.
Stewart, Mart, "Ernst Cassirer and the Synthesis of the Past : a Paradigm in the History of Ideas" (1973). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2042.