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Life is the immediate particularity that spirit requires. From the nature of the symbolic form itself Cassirer generates a metaphysics of the reality that underlies the human. In a fragment written between  and  that has come to light with Cassirer’s manuscripts on The Metaphysics of Symbolic Forms and is discussed by Bayer in the commentary that follows, Cassirer unequivocally states that philosophy is not in itself a symbolic form. This does not mean that philosophical thought dispenses with symbols, for it uses them, especially in language.

Cassirer says that life ‘‘presents itself to us, so to speak, as a uniform and simple beam of light, which has not yet been refracted and dispersed by different mediums of meaning’’ (; ). To define itself, spirit requires various forms of meaning; this multiplicity stands in contrast to the sense of unity that typifies life. Life is not a simple unity, because its unity draws together the diversity present in spirit. These differences are preserved in its unity. Life is ‘‘the primordial fact,’’ whose ‘‘dispersion in a multitude of different directions is quite essential—and that precisely is the ‘primary phenomenon’ of Life itself, that it asserts its deep unshakable unity in this divergency’’ (; ).

Can spirit come to possess and know itself ’’ (; ). Each symbolic form is a mediator of spirit and life, whereas all symbolic forms are mediated through spirit’s dialectical activity. In this activity, spirit comes to know all its forms and all its possibilities; it comes to know itself. This dialectical movement of spirit is a process of doubling up. ’’ 7 The activity of giving form to experience that is distinctive to spirit exists only in relation to this twofold movement. Cassirer says: ‘‘It is always a double movement [doppelte Bewegung] that works itself out here: a continuous alternation of the forces of attraction and repulsion.

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