Few people today, says Susanne Langer, are born toan environment which gives them spiritual support. Evenas we are conquering nature, there is "little we see innature that is ours." We have lost our life-symbols, andour actions no longer have ritual value; this is the mostdisastrous hindrance to the free functioning of thehuman mind.For, as Mrs. Langer observes, ". . . the human brainis constantly carrying on a process of symbolic transfor-mation" of experience, not as a poor substitute for action,but as a basic human need. This concept of
strikes a "new key in philosophy." It is anew generative idea, variously reflected even in suchdiverse fields as psychoanalysis and symbolic logic. With-in it lies the germ of a complete reorientation to life, toart, to action. By posing a whole new world of questionsin this key, Mrs. Langer presents a new world-view inwhich the limits of language do not appear as the lastlimits of rational, meaningful experience, but things in-accessible to discursive language have their own forms of conception. Her examination of the logic of signs andsymbols, and her account of what constitutes meaning,what characterizes symbols, forms the basis for her fur-ther elaboration of the significance of language, ritual,myth and music, and the integration of all these elementsinto human mentality.Irwin Edman says: "I suspect Mrs. Langer has estab-
lished a key in terms of which a good deal of philosophy
these next years may be composed."