Synthese 179 (1):43 - 57 (2011)

This paper provides a précis of Ernst Cassirer's concept of art as a symbolic form. It does so, though, in a specific respect. It points to the fact that Cassirer's concept of "symbolic form" is two-sided. On the one hand, the concept captures general cultural phenomena that are not only meaningful but also manifest the way man makes sense of the world; thus myth, religion, and art are considered general symbolic forms. On the other hand, it captures the formal structures and semiotic tools thanks to which meaning is constructed within each general symbolic form (Cassirer called these structures "modes of objectivation"); thus, in art, perspective or the golden section are well-known examples of symbolic forms, now in a narrow sense, i.e. they are means to configure parts into an organized, meaningful whole. The paper will comment on art along both these two dimensions, but its main goal is to provide with concrete examples of aesthetic symbolic forms in the narrow sense in order to show how conceptual meaning can be inscribed in the space of aesthetic intuition
Keywords Cassirer  Symbolic forms  Art  Perspective  Non-genericity
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-009-9631-8
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,908
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Visual Thinking.Rudolf Arnheim - 1969 - London: Faber.
An Essay on Man.Ernst Cassirer - 1945 - Philosophical Review 54 (5):509-510.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Could Perspective Ever Be a Symbolic Form? Revisiting Panofsky with Cassirer.Emmanuel Alloa - 2015 - Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology 2 (1):51-72.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
125 ( #91,986 of 2,497,768 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #428,370 of 2,497,768 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes