Recovering a lost world of the politics of science in Imperial Germany, Gregory B. Moynahan revisits the work of the philosopher and historian Ernst Cassirer (18741945) and explores his relations with the Marburg School of Hermann Cohen. Ernst Cassirer and the Critical Science of Germany, 18991919 covers the epochal transformations of the natural sciences at the turn of the century, and reveals Cassirers view of an emergent mode of understanding based purely on relational structure which, he perceived, could be applied fruitfully to the social sciences and humanities, or human sciences, Geisteswissenschaften.Moynahan relates that the result was a permanently fluid but rule-based definition of the permutation of objects and subjects, as well as knowledge and reality, within different fields of knowledge. Cassirers project placed the development of the sciences, Wissenschaften, within a wide historical and ethical ambit, and sought to establish a new definition of experience, society and modernity; this project, Cassirer argued, was pivotal to the future of Germany. On this basis, Moynahan posits that Cassirers early work furthered the foundation of a distinctly Central European argument for democracy, liberalism and civil rights. [NP] Moynahan defends Cassirers critique as formative in the origins of twentieth-century social sciences, philosophy of science and law, and he argues for its direct relevance to a generation of scholars before the Second World War (including Elias, Kelsen and Panofsky), as well as after (such as Blumenberg, Foucault and Luhmann). The only text in English to focus on the first half of the polymath Cassirers career, this work illuminates one of the most important and in English, least-studied reform movements in Imperial Germany.
Ernst Cassirer and the Critical Science of Germany, 1899-1919