Natorp, Paul

Natorp, Paul


Born Jan. 24, 1854, in Düsseldorf; died Aug. 17, 1924, in Marburg. German idealist philosopher. Head, along with his teacher, H. Cohen, of the Marburg school of neo-Kantianism. Professor at the University of Marburg from 1885.

Natorp interpreted the Kantian concept of the thing-in-itself as merely a thought of a limit (Grenzbegriff), an incentive for scientific knowledge. Correspondingly, the fundamental Kantian distinction between a priori forms of sense experience and categories of reason is eliminated and converted into a purely logical problem of how the entire content of scientific knowledge is determined by the initial act of thinking (primary source)— by the linking of opposite activities (differentiation and unification). Natorp considered mathematical analysis a classic example of scientific knowledge, seeing in the history of mathematics and natural science a tendency to supplant all specific objects of investigation with constructions of pure thought.

Natorp evaluated ancient philosophy, especially the works of Plato, in the spirit of modern idealism. In particular, he pointed out the resemblance of Plato’s method to the Kantian transcendental method as interpreted by the Marburg school.

Natorp devoted considerable attention to what is known as social pedagogy, the latter being closely related to ethical socialism, which originated within the Marburg school. The basic idea in Natorp’s social pedagogy is the education of the individual as a participant in the endless movement of humanity toward an ideal society, where each individual would be viewed not only as a means but as an end as well. Natorp’s sociopolitical views are a variation of bourgeois liberalism.


Platons Ideenlehre, 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1921.
Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur Sozialpädagogik, 2nd ed., vols. 1–3. Stuttgart, 1922.
Philosophie; Ihr Problem und ihre Probleme, 3rd ed. Göttingen, 1921.
Die logischen Grundlagen der exakten Wissenschaften, 3rd ed. Leipzig, 1923.
Philosophie und Pädagogik, 2nd ed. Marburg, 1923.
Pestalozzi, 5th ed. Leipzig-Berlin, 1927.
Philosophische Systematik. Hamburg, 1958.
In Russian translation:
Sotsial’naia pedagogika. St. Petersburg, 1911.
Kul’tura naroda i kul’tura lichnosti. St. Petersburg, 1912.
“Kant i Marburgskaia shkola.” In Novye idei ν filosofii, anthology 5. St. Petersburg, 1913.


Sovremennaia burzhuaznaia filosofiia. Moscow, 1972. Pages 38–43.
Grafe, I. Das Problem des menschlichen Seins in der Philosophie P. Natorps. Würzburg, 1933.
Ruhloff, J. P. Natorps Grundlegung der Pddagogik. Freiburg im Breisgau, 1966.


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