Susanne Langer (20 December 1895-1985) was an American philosopher of art, one of the first female academic philosophers in the USA, popular in the past but now often forgotten

She is best known for her 1942 book “Philosophy in a New Key”, where she put forth an idea that she developed in her following studies and has become commonplace today: man’s fundamental need to use symbols.
While all animal life is dominated by feeling, human feeling is mediated through conceptions, symbols, and language.

“The symbol-making function is one of man’s primary activities, like eating, looking, or moving about. It is the fundamental process of his mind, and goes on all the time.”

Therefore symbolism must be the central concern of philosophy because it underlies all human knowing and understanding

“Art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feeling.”

“Nature, as man has always known it, he knows no more. Since he has learned to esteem signs above symbols, to suppress his emotional reactions in favor of practical ones and make use of nature instead of holding so much of it sacred, he has altered the face, if not the heart, of reality.”

“Fire is a natural symbol of life and passion, though it is the one element in which nothing can actually live.”

Susanne Langer had an influence in many fields: for example, “Langeria magnifica”, an extinct genus of flowering plants in the witch-hazel family was named after her by Wolfe & Wehr, 1987.

Susanne Langer (20 dicembre 1895-1985) fu una filosofa dell’arte americana, una delle prime filosofe accademiche negli USA, popolare in passato ma oggi pressoché dimenticata.

Nota per il suo libro del 1942 ” Filosofia in una Nuova Chiave”, dove introdusse un’idea, sviluppata anche nei suoi studi successivi, che è diventata oggi comune: la necessità fondamentale dell’uomo di usare simboli
Infatti, mentre tutta la vita animale è dominata dagli istinti, il sentire umano è mediato da rappresentazioni, simboli e linguaggio.

“La funzione di creare simboli è una delle attività primarie dell’uomo, come mangiare, guardare o muoversi. È il processo fondamentale della sua mente e procede continuamente”.

Pertanto il simbolismo deve essere la preoccupazione centrale della filosofia perché alla base di tutta la conoscenza e la comprensione umana

“L’arte è la creazione di forme simboliche delle sensazioni umane. “

“L’uomo non conosce più la natura, come l’ha sempre conosciuta. Da quando ha imparato a considerare i segni superiori ai simboli, a sopprimere le sue reazioni emotive a favore di quelle pratiche e a servirsi della natura invece di considerarla sacra, ha alterato il volto, se non il cuore, della realtà”.

Il fuoco è un simbolo naturale di vita e passione, sebbene sia l’unico elemento in cui nulla può effettivamente vivere.”

Susanne Langer ha avuto influenza in molti campi: ad esempio, alla “Langeria magnifica“, un genere estinto di piante da fiore della famiglia dell’amamelide, è stato dato il suo nome da Wolfe & Wehr, 1987

IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons – Kevmin: Hamamelidaceae fossils – Langeria magnifica- Klondike Mountain Formation

71 thoughts on “Symbols

  1. “Fire is a natural symbol of life and passion, though it is the one element in which nothing can actually live.”
    I stay with this phrase because in symbolic language, passion allows us to speak and think beyond what is spoken and thought when writing a poem.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We are champion of forgetting our past . Despite this fact that future depends on our past . Susanne Langer is one of the writers who wrote in philosophy . Philosophy is not only a subject but a language . She wrote gently but she was forgotten crudely . This is our old habit . She was not only from the USA but she was the citizen of this beautiful but cruel world of ours . A noble writer . A researcher & searcher of human feelings. Mediated through conceptions , symbols and language . Wrong . Absolutely wrong . Virtually mediated through cruelty , narcissistic approach and gigantic mentality . Really so . Fact is this . Our VEDAS said that if any Hyme of it is wrong . Correct it . Disbelieve it . Think ahead . But don’t forget a prestigious writer like Susanne Langer . Thanks !

      Liked by 3 people

      1. You are also a great writer and the historical stories of great peoples life
        Explanations and sonnet in English literature also explaining so nicely!!
        Am so glad that you are my friend and more I can learn from you ❤️🙏
        Grace wishes and thank you 👏🥰

        Liked by 2 people

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