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A Parting of the Ways: Carnap, Cassirer, and Heidegger [Hardcover]

Michael Friedman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Nov 2000 0812694244 978-0812694246
Beginning with a confrontation in 1929 in Switzerland, Michael Friedman examines how the work of three pivotal philosophers evolved and intertwined over several years, ultimately giving rise to two very different schools of thought -- analytic philosophy and continental. The author explores the clashes that set them apart as they developed their own radical new ideas.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Open Court Publishing Co ,U.S. (Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812694244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812694246
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,857,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Davos, Switzerland; March 17-April 6, 1929. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and compelling 17 Aug 2006
By Dr. Matthew Broome VINE VOICE
This is one of the best philosophy books I've read this last year. This may be because it focuses on a period in the history of ideas that currently is of great interest to me: namely, the development of phenomenology and its interaction with Neo-Kantianism, especially Heidegger's relationship with Rickert and Lask, and Husserl's with Natorp. This book, a little like Wittgenstein's poker, sets the narrative around a single event that unites all the participants. This is the 1929 conference at Davos at which Cassirer and Heidegger debated Kant, and at which Carnap was a delegate. Friedman traces these three thinkers' relationship to Kant and his problematic and their attempts within their own philosophies to resolve Kantian problems. Like Critchley, Friedman diagnoses the analytic-continental divide as being a problem of the response to Kant. Intriguingly, he suggests Cassirer as a mediator of Carnap's and Heidegger's opposing conceptions of philosophy and since reading this book am now getting into Cassirer. A wonderful book - short too!
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A much needed contribution 29 Oct 2006
By Aaron Boyden - Published on Amazon.com
The history of early 20th century philosophy is woefully little known these days, even by philosophers. Friedman provides an extremely detailed and well-documented account of the early evolutions of the views of probably the two most influential German philosophers of the century, Carnap and Heidegger. He pays attention to the connections both philosophers saw between their philosophies and both politics and everyday life, connections of which most admirers of Carnap are unaware, and connections which most admirers of Heidegger would prefer to ignore. Cassirer is of course not as influential a figure as either Carnap or Heidegger, but reconciliation projects are generally viewed as less exciting, and Friedman makes a plausible case that Cassirer's position sought to navigate a middle ground between the then rising Positivist and Existentialist movements.

Cassirer is also important to the overall picture because he is the most avowedly Kantian of the three philosophers Friedman examines, though another valuable contribution of this work is to highlight the heavy influence of the early 20th century German neo-Kantian schools on both Carnap and Heidegger (the Kantian influence on Carnap is also discussed in Friedman's book on Logical Positivism).

Friedman himself seems to hope to encourage more modern dialogue between the analytic and the continental traditions which are the heirs of Carnap and Heidegger respectively. This is of course no easy task, but while as an analytic partisan myself my response to the discussion of Heidegger's views tended to be along the lines of "so that's why the continentals have gone so horribly wrong," (not because of Friedman's presentation, I think; he presents all three philosophers he discusses quite favorably), greater mutual understanding is surely a necessary beginning, even if prospects for any kind of agreement are far off.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative yet inaccessible 10 Jun 2010
By R. Haecker - Published on Amazon.com
Micheal Friedan's "A Parting of the Ways: Carnap, Cassirer, and Heidegger"(2000) is a helpful overview of the early twentieth-century Neo-Kantian disputes on logical validity and phenomenological universality which, in the philosophies of Rudolf Carnap and Martin Heidegger, would famously diverge into the "analytic-continental" divide. Friedman's book aims to discuss the intellectual relationship between three broad representatives of twentieth-century Kantianism: the logical positivist Rudolf Carnap, the strict neo-kantian Ernst Cassirer, and the existential-phenomenologist Martin Heidegger. The book occasionally digresses into what may seem to be needless biographical and historical discussions, which would be more appropriate to a book of intellectual history than history of philosophy. Although this book patiently summarizes and thoroughly examines their distinctive interpretation of Kant's philosophy with prolific references to other philosophers, it nonetheless seems to ultimately present merely the relevant fragments of each writer's epistemological conception. As such, this book cannot be expected to serve as a general introduction to either logical positivism or phenomenology, while it does a more admirable service of discussing Neo-Kantianism. Friedan's book is not easily accessible, and seems intended for intermediate and advanced student-scholars of Kantian and German philosophy. Apart from the numerous post-Kantian and Neo-Kantian philosophers which are occasionally referenced, the reader must possess a working knowledge of the "transcendental aesthetic" and "transcendental analytic" from Kant's first Critique of Pure Reason, as many of the disputes concerning logic, perception and validity arise from this section of the first Critique. If the reader is unfamiliar the inner workings of Kant's epistemology, I would suggest T.K. Seung's short book, "Kant: A Guide for the Perplexed". The most informative chapter in this book is the ninth and final chapter, which summarizes the disputes within their historical context. I would recommend reading this chapter first to familiarize oneself with the topics of dispute.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changing social dynamics and ways of thought 11 Oct 2002
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
A Parting Of The Ways: Carnap, Cassirer, And Heidegger by Michael Friedman (Ruth N. Halls Professor of Arts and Humanities, Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science, and Professor of Philosophy, Indiana University) is a informative, scholarly study in the division of philosophy into the analytic tradition (held widely in the Anglophone world), and the continental philosophic tradition of Europe. Examining how this split took place just before and during the 1930's, A Parting Of The Ways focuses upon a pivotal 1929 debate between two respected German philosophers, Ernst Cassirer and Martin Heidegger. Rudolf Carnap, who represented the Vienna Circle of logical positivists. A Parting Of The Ways is an intrinsically fascinating study of changing social dynamics and ways of thought, and the negative impact that the rise of Hitler had on philosophy schools as a whole and German philosophers in particular. A Parting Of The Ways is an invaluable contribution to Philosophy Studies academic reference collections and supplemental reading lists.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Technical But Accessible 12 Jun 2010
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
This is a rather technical but accessible case study of the split between "continental" and "analytic" philosophy. Friedman focuses on 3 disparate figures; the analytic philosopher Rudolph Carnap, the seminal continental philosopher Martin Heidegger, and the the influential neo-Kantian philosopher and historian Ernst Cassirer. As Friedman demonstrates, these men had a common intellectual heritage in the Neo-Kantian revival that occurred at the end of 19th century. This heritage provided something of a common vocabulary and also resulted in the identification of common philosophic problems, notably aspects of dualities in Kants' epistemology. The specific roles of logic, mathematics, and scientific thought as forms of knowledge were also points of contention. Friedman provides a concise but detailed discussion of the Neo-Kantian background, emphasizing its diversity, with Heidegger emerging from one strand of the Neo-Kantian background, and Cassirer as he final flower of another strand. These 3 philosophers are presented as responding to the common set of problems in Neo-Kantianism in markedly different ways. Carnap pursues a reconstruction of epistemology inspired by newer developments in mathematical logic. Heidegger undertakes perhaps the most radical transformation with an effort to strike out in a new direction which appears (to me, at any rate) as a wholesale rejection of the previously crucial role of logic and scientific knowledge. Both of these thinkers drew on important new developments in philosophy; Carnap on Frege and Heidegger on Husserl's phenomenology. Friedman has a very sympathetic discussion of Cassirer's thought, which he sees as something of an effort to respond to concerns that motivated both Carnap and Heidegger, resulting in a body of thought that occupies something of middle way between Carnap and Heidegger.

Friedman, then, stresses the common heritage of "analytic" and "continental" philosophy and suggests that the split is not as great as conventionally portrayed. He suggests also that the split is partly the contingent result of the success of Nazism. Carnap, Cassirer, and most other analytically oriented philosophers had to leave Germany, eiher because of ethnicity or because of their political views. Heidegger, who later embraced Nazism, was left as the only great philosopher in Germany, and possibly in continental Europe. Friedman points out that Carnap, Cassirer, and Heidegger had very collegial relations prior to the Nazi seizure of power. The implication is that preservation of routine academic life in Germany would have resulted in more interaction and cross-fertilization. I'm not sure that Friedman is entirely convincing on this point. Its clear from his account that Carnap and Heidegger produced radically different and quite irreconcilable responses to what appears to have been a set of common problems. Friedman argues well for Cassirer's distinctive contribution but Cassirer's continued emphasis on the importance of science, mathematics, and logic places him much closer to Carnap in some crucial respects. It really appears that despite a common heritage, there really was a great split.

It also has to be commented that the claim of contintental philosophy to be more oriented to human concerns, as opposed to the technical preoccupations of analytic philosophy, is belied by the fact that in fundamental matters of ethics, it was people like Carnap and Cassirer who got it right.
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