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Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics

Issue no.2 /2010


Ústav dějin umění Akademie věd České republiky

  Address: Katedra estetiky, Celetná 20
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  eMail: aesthetics@ff.cuni.cz

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Images and Shadows: Levinas and the Ambiguity of the Aesthetic    
Perspektive, Symbol und symbolische Form. Zum Verhältnis Cassirer – Panofsky    
Translated Title: Perspective, Symbol, and Symbolic Form: Concerning the Relationship between Cassirer and Panofsky
Publication: Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics (2/2010)
Author Name: Hub, Berthold;
Language: German
Subject: Philosophy
Issue: 2/2010
Page Range: 144-171
No. of Pages: 28
File size: 174 KB
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Summary: During the last two decades of the twentieth century, there was a sudden surge of interest
in Ernst Cassirer’s major work, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1923–29), and Erwin
Panofsky’s essay, ‘Perspective as Symbolic Form’ (1927), an interest that has continued
uninterrupted to the present day. Particularly amongst art historians, however, a serious
misunderstanding remains evident here – the confusing of ‘symbolic form’ with ‘symbol’.
Cultural and perceptual mediations, in which objects (and subjects) are only just in the
process of forming, are carelessly turned into arbitrary, isolated objects of art history or
pictorial history. Every work, in this view, is regarded as a ‘symbolic form’ to the extent
that a representation of the world is ‘expressed’ in it. This article initially reviews Panofsky’s
essay in order to establish the context in which the art historian uses the term ‘symbolic
form’. His use of it is then compared with Cassirer’s original understanding of the term.
A careful distinction is made between ‘symbol’, ‘symbolic pregnance’, and ‘symbolic form’,
and this is followed by an analysis of scattered remarks in Cassirer’s writings, and particularly
in his posthumous manuscripts and notes, on ‘art’ as symbolic form and on the spatial
form that is prior to all perception and art production, as well as his call for a kind of art
history that conceives of itself as a scholarly discipline. The article concludes with the
recognition that Panofsky not only deliberately, but justifiably – that is, in the spirit of
Cassirer, at least – transferred the expression ‘symbolic form’ to ‘perspective’.
Keywords: Cassirer E.; Panofsky E.; symbolic form; symbol; perspective; cultural mediation; perceptual mediation; art history; pictorial history
Carl Heinrich Seibts Prager Vorlesungen aus den Schönen Wissenschaften.Zu den Anfängen der universitären Ästhetik in Böhmen    
Die Lehren einer Fußnote.Die Wirkung der Ästhetik- und Gesellschaftstheorie von Burke auf die Ästhetikkonzeption von A. G. Szerdahely    
Karol Kuzmány: On Beauty    
The Aesthetic Dimension of Visual Culture (conference report)    
The Third ‘Beauty, Landscape, and Nature’ Conference: ‘The Forest: The Environment from an Aesthetic Point of View’ (conference report)    
The 2010 Annual Conference of the European Society for Aesthetics (conference report)    
Artistic Revolutions: The 38th International Colloquium of the Slovenian Society of Aesthetics (conference report)    
Lubomír Doležel. Possible Worlds of Fiction and History: The Postmodern Stage (review)