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Ernst Cassirer

WithJoyce Appleby, Elizabeth Covington, David Hoyt, Michael Latham, Allison Sneider

A German historian who came to the United States before World War II, Ernst Cassirer was known for his studies in the philosophy and history of science. Cassirer emphasized the ways in which the scientific study of nature during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries shaped new understandings of how the mind produces knowledge. According to Cassirer, understandings of the power of the thinking subject to fully investigate and analyze the natural object encouraged Enlightenment philosophers and scientists to view human reason as a tool with which to formulate laws in the process of understanding the infinite universe itself. Experimentation allowed for the advanced study of the world, and as Cassirer explains it, thinkers like Galileo found truth not in God’s word but in the proof of their own works.