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animal symbolicumanimal symbolicum (lat.)

  • Man as an animal living in a symbolic world.

    Reason is a very inadequate term with which to comprehend the forms of man’s cultural life in all their richness and variety. But all these forms are symbolic forms. Hence, instead of defining man as an animal rationale we should define him as an animal symbolicum. By doing so we can designate his specific difference, and we can understand the new way open to man — the way to civilization. 

    Cassirer, E. (1944). An Essay on Man (ger. Versuch über den Menschen, Hamburg 1996): 51.