Hans Vaihinger

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Vaihinger, Hans


Born Sept. 25, 1852, in Nehren, near Tübingen; died Dec. 18, 1933, in Halle. German idealist philosopher.

Vaihinger became a professor of philosophy at the University of Strasbourg in 1883 and at the University of Halle in 1906. He was the author of Commentary to Kant’s “Critique of PureReason” (vols. 1–2, 1881–82). He founded the journal Kant-Studien in 1897 and the Kant Society in 1904. Vaihinger’s main work, The Philosophy of “As If” (1911), was written under the influence of Kant, who had proposed using the fundamental philosophical ideas (spirit, world, god) “as if” (als ob) their objects were real (see Soch., vol. 3, Moscow, 1964, pp. 571–72). In his book Vaihinger developed the subjective idealist concept of fictionalism, or “critical positivism.” He considered scientific and philosophical concepts (“atom,” “infinitesimal,” “absolute,” “god,” and others) to be fictions that have no theoretical value but are important in practice. Thus Vaihinger came to agnostic conclusions about the impossibility of knowing reality as it is “in fact” and admitted that sensations are the ultimate evidence accessible to knowing.


Hartmann, Dühring und Lange. Iserlohn, 1876.
Pessimismus und Optimismus. Berlin, 1924.
In Russian translation:
Nitsshe kakfi losof. St. Petersburg, 1913.


Bakradze, K. S. Ocherki po istorii noveishei i sovremennoi burzhuaznoi filosofii. Tbilisi, 1960.
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The correspondence with the journalist Bernt von Heiseler, the philosopher Hans Vaihinger, and the writer Erich Muller-Gangloff is more episodic yet also of interest.