- Paperback: 303 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (September 10, 1961)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300000367
- ISBN-13: 978-0300000368
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #618,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Myth of the State
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?This scholarly work by a truly great spirit should be read by every trained mind in search of deeper understanding of the world. One of the rare grand' books.?-Library Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This scholarly work by a truly great spirit should be read by every trained mind in search of deeper understanding of the world. One of the rare `grand' books. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Professor Cassirer left the University of Hamburg in 1933 with the rise of the Nazis and Adolph Hitler to power in Germany. During the war, he taught at both Yale and Columbia. Ernst Cassirer passed away in 1945.
In this book, among other things, Cassirer explores the nexus of myth and politics, with implications today in America.
Enjoy this last book by one of the great thinkers of the 20th century.
Nevertheless, Cassirer masterfully explains much of the development of the western theory of the state through time. He hits on many of the salient thinkers and philosophical movements. Yet, inexplicably, some important thinkers seem to get short shrift comparatively speaking (e.g. Aristotle) and others scarcely manage more than a brief mention (e.g. Marx). Readers might find (what turned out to be) Cassirer's parting shot at Heidegger and the proto-fascist elements of his philosophy fascinating (Cassirer died in 1945 and The Myth of the State was published posthumously). Perhaps most intriguing is how Cassirer reserves most of his ire for Hegel, arguably making his philosophy most responsible for the intellectual underpinnings of the rise of National Socialism in Germany--an analysis not entirely unpredictable for a neo-Kantian like Cassirer to make given how, in the historical estimation of many, Hegel eclipsed Kant as Germany's preeminent philosopher.
Notwithstanding these limitations, The Myth of the State is worth reading. Cassirer's analysis of the development of the western theory of the state is evidently too sagacious to be missed.
Cassirer clearly sees Nazism and related phenomena as the recrudescence of "primitive," pre-rational modes of thought in the modern age. This book opens with a discussion of myth, drawing on anthopological literature, and emphasizing the social aspects of myth, its emotional nature, and the use of myth based ritual to manipulate the world. This is followed by a series of chapters looking at the concept of the state across a broad swathe of the western intellectual tradition, starting with Plato and working right up to the 19th century. Several of these essays emphasize efforts to develop a rational conception of the state as a vehicle of justice. Like much of Cassirer's work, these are individually interesting and very leaned discussions. These sections terminate with a concise discussion of the rejection of most prior conceptions of the state, and especially attempts at rational foundations, by early Romantic thinkers, setting the stage for what Cassirer sees clearly as pernicious developments in the 19th century.
The book finishes with a series of interesting essays about the 19th century background of Nazism. These include Carlyle's hero worship. the racist theories of Gobineau, and Hegel's exaltation of the state. Cassirer sees a fatal compound of these ideas as forming the essential platform for Nazi ideology. In the context of the great stresses of the Weimar and interwar period, elements of these ideas were incorporated into a form of magical, pre-rational thinking that was a 20th century equivalent of primitive mythology.
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It seems that it can.Read more