In giving a philosophical account of the rise of National Socialism in early- and mid-twentieth-century Germany, many philosophers have pointed to myth as an explanatory feature. The work of Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno in the Dialectic of Enlightenment is renowned. This essay confronts Horkheimer and Adorno's argument with the less-celebrated work of the German philosopher Ernst Cassirer, whose functionalistic concept of myth as a symbolic form enables him to give detailed philosophical analyses of myth as a long-established form of life and as an artificial weapon in the service of modern politics. Cassirer's concept of myth was inspired by the German theologian Rudolf Otto and his use of phenomenological description of the transcendent experience of the holy.

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