Third section – Introduction


“Doch in solch dichter Nacht voller Finsternis, mit der die erste von uns so weit entfernte Urzeit bedeckt ist, erscheint dieses ewige Licht, das nicht untergeht, folgender Wahrheit, die auf keine Weise in Zweifel gezogen werden kann: dass diese politische Welt sicherlich von den Menschen gemacht worden ist; deswegen können (denn sie müssen) ihre Prinzipien innerhalb der Modifikationen unseres eigenen menschlichen Geistes gefunden werden.”
(Giovanni Battista Vico: Prinzipien einer neuen Wissenschaft über die gemeinsame Natur der Völker, in: Philosophische Bibliothek, vol. 418, ed. von Vittorio Hösle and Christoph Jermann, Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1990, vol. 1, Nr. 331, S. 142)

Reductionist and Dogmatic Structure of Science vs. Human, Cultural, and Social Studies

Philosophy is often requested to provide answers and solutions to questions in doubt and to non-resolved issues within the specific sciences. Such answers and solutions provided by philosophy, however, are necessarily more detailed and complex than the simple questions and problems, posed by the sciences. The reason for increased complexity is the fact that dogmatic scientific disciplines have an axiomatic structure that enables them to reduce complexity for their own purpose. Such reductionism is not allowed in the domain of philosophy, including human and cultural studies, as they are free of dogmatical or axiomatical pre-conditions (see Eduard Spranger: Der Sinn der Vorausset­zungslosigkeit in den Geistes­wis­senschaften, in: Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissen­schaften, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, vol. 1929, No. 1, Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 1929).

In consequence of this epistemological rule, legal philosophy invites jurisprudence to leave the field, where they govern with self-confidence, and to risk a more complex view on their subjects. It should no longer irritate, but rather console and taken as the norm that legal philosophy provides complex answers and solutions to simple questions and problems, just because it surpasses the reductionist structure of jurisprudence.

An Appendix to the General Introduction: Law Within the Context of Cultural Phenomenon

When addressing legal thought in the setting of cultural philosophy, as outlined in the general introduction, we constantly have to take into consideration these before mentioned restrictions. A culturally integral prospective on law and the legal order has become paradigmatic for legal reasoning for Ernst Rudolf Huber (Problematik des Kulturstaates” (1958), but also for Neo-Hegelia­nism in general, for instance for Hans Freyer (Theorie des objektiven Geistes, eine Einlei­tung in die Kulturphilosophie, Leipzig: B. G. Teubner 1923, 3. ed. 1934). We can even detect a true political and legal philosophy in one of the principal writings of Ernst Cassirer, an eminent forerunner of the cultural philosophy movement (An Essay on Man – An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1944; in German translation: Versuch über den Menschen – Einführung in eine Philosophie der Kultur, Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1990; and idem: The Myth of the State, New Haven/ London: Yale University Press, 1946; in German translation: Der Mythus des Staates – Philosophische Grundlagen politischen Verhaltens, Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschen­buch Verlag, 1985, 1st ed. Zürich und München: Artemis, 1949; compare also idem: Zur Logik der Kulturwissenschaften – Fünf Studien, 1942).

Nevertheless, such differentiating considerations, together with a comprehensive collection of materials concerning legal phenomenon, can provide a strong basis for legal philosophical reaso­ning in a cultural perspective, a process that has been initiated during the Renaissance with its accentuation of the human individual and individuality in general. In Italy, an attempt has been made by the collection of “Materiali per una storia della cultura giuridica” (ed. by Giovanni Tarello, Bologna: Società Editrice il Mulino; compare idem: Diritto, enunciati, usi, Bologna: Il Mulino, 1974; and idem: Il realismo giuridico americano, in: Pubblicazioni dell’Istituto di filosofia del diritto dell’Università di Roma, vol. 18, Milano: A. Giuffrè, 1962) or by the contributions included in the “Archivio di Storia della Cultura” (ed. by Fulvio Tessitore, Napoli: Liguori Editore; compare idem: Introduzione a lo storicismo, Bari/ Roma: Laterza, 1996), as well as by virtually all contributions to the philosophy of Giovanni Battista Vico, contained in the “Bolletino del Centro di Studi Vichiani” (ed. Giuseppe Cacciatore, Napoli: Bibliopolis; compare idem: Scienza e filosofia in Dilthey, Napoli: Guida, 1976; idem: Die Tradition des problema­tisch-kritischen Historismus im Rahmen der italienischen philosophischen Kultur der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts, in: Historismus in den Kulturwissenschaften – Konzepte, historische Einschätzungen, Probleme, ed. Otto Gerhard Oexle and Jörn Rüsen, in: Beiträge zur Geschichtskultur, vol. 12, Köln/ Weimar/ Wien: Böhlau, 1996, pp. 331 ss.). These initiatives have been transferred to and integrated into Italian jurisprudence by Widar Cesarini Sforza (Filosofia del diritto, Milano: A. Giuffrè, 3rd ed. 1958; in German translation: Rechtsphilosophie, ed. by Alessandro Baratta, München: C. H. Beck, 1966; see Gaetano Marini: Widar Cesarini Sforza tra idealismus e positivismo giuridico, Padova: CEDAM, 1980), as well as by Alessandro Baratta (Ricerche su “essere” e “dover essere” nell’esperienza normativa e nella scienza del diritto, Milano: A. Giuffrè, 1968; idem: Natura del fatto e giustizia materiale – Certezza e verità nel diritto, Milano: A. Giuffrè, 1968; Idem (together with Hartmut Wagner): article “Rechtsidee”, in: Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie, ed. Joachim Ritter and Karlfried Gründer, Basel: Schwabe & Co., 1992, vol. 8, pp. 281 ss.). As for the Iberian culture compare in this respect the works of José Ortega y Gasset, for Dutch culture see the writings by Jan Huizinga (Der Mensch und die Kultur, in: Parerga, ed. Werner Kägi, Basel/ Amsterdam: Pantheon, 1945; idem: Homo ludens – Ver­such einer Bestimmung des Spielelementes der Kultur, Basel: Akademische Verlagsanstalt Pantheon/ Verlag für Geschichte und Politik, 3rd ed. 1949).

The fundamental groundwork for cultural philosophy has also been done, and issues in cultural philosophy have been elaborated in German language, namely by virtually all contribu­tions to the predominant leaders in this domain, Wilhelm Dilthey (“Dilthey-Jahrbuch”) and Ernst Cassirer (“Cassirer-Forschungen”). They can all be recommended as a starting point; however, the writings by Georg Simmel or Eric Voegelin (Die neue Wissenschaft der Politik – Eine Einführung, ed. Peter J. Opitz, Freiburg im Breisgau/ München: Karl Alber, 4th ed. 1991) should not to be forgotten.

Contributions to Jurisprudence in the Context of Human, Cultural and Social Studies

The inclination towards human and cultural studies is inherent, but regularly not expressed in Swiss legal thought. A close adherence to legal practice and legal experience encourage that jurisprudents in Switzerland regularly include philosophical, political and social pre-conditions into their scientific considerations. As a result, one can observe implicitly a strong tendency to inter-disciplinary thought, to inter-connection between related scientific disciplines.

Such a pre-disposition of jurisprudence can be observed in many ways, for instance in relating jurisprudence to philosophy, epistemology (as in Arthur Baumgarten and Alois Troller), in addressing Neo-Kantian issues in cultural studies (as in Arnold Gysin, Peter Häberle and Kurt Seelmann), by indicating to the underlying values, that render judgment possible (Alois Riklin), by elaboration the connection between Natural Law theory and phenomenology and existentialism (Elisabeth Hruschka), or, last but not least, by regressing directly to Wilhelm Dilthey as the precursor of this kind of human studies (as provided by Nikolaus Kreissl).

Excursus: Ernst Cassirer’s Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, the Myth of the State, and the Theory of Science

In the German-thinking consciousness, this form of investigation is associated with Wilhelm von Humboldt and Johann Gottfried Herder, and maybe also Johann Wolfgang Goethe, and has been fully elaborated by Wilhelm Dilthey. A more recent eminent representative is Ernst Cassirer, the founder of the so-called philosophy of symbolic forms. The persistent subjects are the arts and language, may this be Renaissance painters, or Romantic Poets and Literates. Language played a key role, until the sceptical criticism by Ludwig Wittgenstein. The third volume of the “Philosophy of Symbolic Forms” is dedicated to language as a prototype phenomenon for cultural-philosophical reflections. In his American exile, Cassirer wrote the monography on “The Myth of the State”, just before he died in 1945. In his foreword to this study, Charles W. Hendel praises the author as follows: “Whenever Cassirer treated of any subject he not only passed in review with fine understanding what the preceding philosophers had thought but he also brought together into an original, synoptic view whatever related to the subject from every aspect of human experience – art, literature, religion, science, history. In all that he undertook there was a constant demonstration of the relatedness of the different forms of human knowledge and culture” (The Myth of the State, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1946, p. VIII). By his ability of judging the inter-disciplinary aspects of each subject, Cassirer can undoubtedly serve as a model scientist for cultural studies. Political theory, and accor­dingly the general theory of the state, is understood by Cassirer as a constant struggle against mythological conceptions. However, this attempt of enlightenment by political philosophy in modern times has only produced renewed myths, for instance in Thomas Carlyle and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The fundamental insight into symbolic forms by cultural philosophy, therefore, cannot surpass these mental dispositions and inclinations, in order to save the idea of the state from being perverted on a mythological level, in the long run. Despite the merely negative outcome of this kind of cultural studies, the arguments on the way are rich with discoveries in the history of ideas and convincing in a historical perspec­tive.

Nevertheless, there is a hidden theory of science, or rather a philosophy of the human and social sciences in Ernst Cassirer, since idealism is proved in everyday experience and part of a dynamic development within historical progress of mankind (compare Karl-Norbert Ihmig: Grundzüge einer Philosophie der Wissenschaften bei Ernst Cassirer, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2001). It remains, thus, the problem of application, that is unsolved by Cassirer.

For Further Reading

Giuseppe Cacciatore: Dilthey und Cassirer über die Renaissance, in: Cassirers Weg zur Philosophie der Politik (Cassirer-Forschungen, vol. 5), ed. Enno Rudolph, Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1999, pp. 113 ss.;

Ernst Cassirer: The Myth of the State, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1946; idem: Zur Logik der Kulturwissenschaften – Fünf Studien, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 6th ed. 1994; idem: Versuch über den Menschen – Einführung in eine Philosophie der Kultur (An Essay on Man – An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture), Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1990 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1944);

Birgit Recki: Interdisziplinarität ohne Disziplin? Kulturphilosophie und Kulturwissenschaften nach Ernst Cassirer, in: Dialektik, Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie (Hamburg: Felix Meiner), vol. 2005, Nr. 2, pp. 131 ss.;

Enno Rudolph (Ed.): Cassirers Weg zur Philosophie der Politik, in: Cassirer-Forschungen, vol. 5, Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1999.