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When, three years ago, I came to Yale University it was an agreeable surprise to find a close cooperation that extended to a wide field.It was a special pleasure and a great privilege to work together with my younger colleagues in conjoint seminars on various subjects.An Essay on Man, completed in 1944, is the major work of this period. Hendel in friendship and gratitude AN ESSAY ON MAN An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture BY ERNST CASSIRER DOUBLEDAY ANCHOR BOOKS DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, INC., GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK © BOOKS BY ERNST CASSIRER PUBLISHED BY YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS An Essay on Man - The Myth of the State The Problem of Knowledge The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Volume 1 Originally Published on the Louis Stem Memorial Fund Copyright, 1944, by Yale Ouivcrsily Press Reprinted by Arrangement with Yale University Press All Rights Reserved Printed in the United States Preface PART I WHAT IS MAN?
This book had to be much shorter than the first one, "A big book," said Lessing, “is a big evil." When writing my Philosophy of Symbolic Forms I was so engrossed in the sub- ject itself that I forgot or neglected this stylistic maxim, Now I feel much more inclined to subscribe to Lessing’s words, In- stead of giving a detailed account of facts and a lengthy dis- cussion of theories I have tried in this present hook to concentrate upon a few points that seemed to me to be of special philosophical importance and to express my thoughts as briefly and succinctly as possible.
Still the book has had to deal with subjects that, at first sight, may seem to be widely divergent.
I have been anxious to place them in a position to judge for themselves.
Of course it has not been possible to lay before their eyes the whole bulk of empirical evidence upon which my principal thesis rests.
The fundamental problems of human culture have a general human interest, and they should be made accessible to the general public.
I have tried, therefore, to avoid all technicalities and to express my thoughts as clearly and simply as possible.I did not mean to write a “popular” book on a subject that, in many respects, is resistant to any popularization.On the other hand this book is nut destined for scholars or philoso- phers alone.He has read the manuscript several times, and I have always been able to accept his critical suggestions. The dedication has, however, not only a personal but also a "symbolic 1 ’ meaning.By dedicating this book to the Chair- man of the Department of Philosophy and to the Director of Graduate Studies at Yale University I wish to expiess to the Department itself my cordial thanks.I have had to content myself with citing those authors to whom I myself feel most indebted and with selecting those examples that seemed to me to be of typical significance and of para- mount philosophical interest. Hendel I wish to expiess my feeling of deep gratitude lo the man who, with indefati- gable zeal, helped me to prepare this book, He was the first to whom I spoke about its general plan.Without his keen interest in the subject matter of the book and his friendly personal interest in its author I should hardly have found the courage to publish it.Since that time the author has continued his study on the subject, He has learned many new facts and he has been confronted with new problems, Even the old problems are seen by him from a different angle and appear in a new light.For all these reasons 1 decided to make a fresh start and to write an entirely new book.The last year of his life was spent as a visit- ing professor at Columbia University. Cassirer's first works were in the field of epistemology.By 1904, he had completed the first two volumes of his monumental four-volume history of epistemology, The Problem of Knowledge, the final volume of which was in the process of translation at the time of his death.