Consciousness, affect and objectifying in Cassirer’s conception of symbolizing

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An examination of Cassirer’s conception of symbolizing, which is born in his critique of Kant, will show that objectifying human experience without external absolutes is grounded in affect, not cognition. When there is no external absolute to guide objectifying, then the roots of objectifying begin with how we are affected by experience and led to reflect. Affect formulates how we become conscious of what there is and express this consciousness so as to objectify it. Affect thus has an indirect influence on consciousness and objectifying. Cassirer expands the scope of the free play of the imagination, which Kant restricted to aesthetic judgments, to account for how order arises through any modality when a rule is not given. He anchors this generative source in human expression itself, and thereby prevents objectifying from sinking into relativism. Affect is thus shown to play a regulative role in consciousness when we objectify human experience without external absolutes.

Keywords: Cassirer; Kant; affect; consciousness; objectifying; reflection; regulative; symbolizing

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Philosophy DepartmentNassau Community College

Publication date: October 1, 2001

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