Ernst Cassirer and Historical Epistemology

Public Lecture by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)


21 May 2019, 3.00 pm – 5 pm


Kardinaal Mercierzaal, Institute of Philosophy (HIW), KU Leuven, Kardinaal Mercierplein 2, Leuven


In his Hamburg years and later in his exile in Sweden, Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945) developed from a Neo-Kantian toward a position that can be characterized as historical epistemology. I would like to highlight a few characteristics of this transit, and compare them to the position that his ten years younger contemporary Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) developed at the same time in France, and who is usually credited as the founder of historical epistemology. To develop my points, I will mainly have recourse to the fourth volume of Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophie und Wissenschaft der neueren Zeit: Von Hegels Tod bis zur Gegenwart (1832-1932) as well as his Zur Logik der Kulturwissenschaften. Fünf Studien.

Prof. Rheinberger will also give a doctoral seminar on ‘New Developments in Historical Epistemology’ on 21 May, 11.00am – 13.00pm (in the Raadzaal, same address).

If you are interested, or are in need of more information, please contact

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