Wilhelm Windelband

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Windelband, Wilhelm


Bora May 11, 1848, in Potsdam; died Oct. 22, 1915, in Heidelberg. German idealist philosopher; leader of the Baden school of neo-Kantianism. Professor at Zürich (1876), Freiburg (1877), Strasbourg (1882), and Heidelberg (1903).

Windelband is known for his works on the history of philosophy, History of Ancient Philosophy (1888; Russian translation, 1893) and History of Modern Philosophy (vol. 1-2, 1878-80; Russian translation, vol. 1-2, 1902-05), in which the philosophical systems of the past are presented from a Kantian position. In a characteristically neo-Kantian spirit Windelband eliminates the concept of thing-in-itself from Kant’s doctrine and attempts thereby to overcome the dualism of Kantian philosophy in a subjectivistic way. Windelband defines philosophy as “the critical study of values of universal validity” (Preliudii [Praludien], St. Petersburg, 1904, p. 23) and as a normative doctrine based on value judgments and on the cognition of what ought to be. He contrasts philosophy with the natural sciences, which are based on theoretical judgments and empirical data of what is. Windelband interprets values as being a priori, transcendental, and universally valid. By acknowledging mankind’s self-determination in accordance with an “ethical ideal” as the ultimate aim of historical progress, Windelband reduces social problems to ethical ones. He declares the dualism of the world of reality and the world of values to be a “sacred mystery” revealing the limitation of our knowledge and directs us into the sphere of religious values.

In evolving a methodology of the sciences he breaks down the sciences into nomothetic sciences, which deal with laws, and idiographic sciences, which study specific phenomena in their uniqueness. “The former are the sciences of laws, the latter are the sciences of events” (ibid., p. 320). In this way Windelband denies that the discovery of laws is the guiding principle of historical knowledge.


Geschichte und Naturwissenschaft, 3rd ed. Strasbourg, 1904.
Uber Willensfreiheit, 4th ed. Tubingen, 1923.
Lehrbuch der Geschichte der Philosophic, 15th ed. Tübingen, 1957.
In Russian translation:
O svobode voli. Moscow, 1905.
Platon, 4th ed. St. Petersburg, 1909.
Filosofiia v nemetskoi dukhovnoi zhizni 19 stoletiia. Moscow, 1910.


Plekhanov. G. “O knige V. Vindel’banda.” In Soch., vol. 17. Moscow, 1925. Pages 155-59.
Iakovenko, B. “Vil’gel’m Vindel’band.” In Voprosy filosofii i psikhologii, 1916, books 132-33.
Blonskii, P. Sovremennaia filosofiia, part 1. Moscow, 1919.
Rickert, H. Wilhelm Windelband, 2nd ed. Tubingen, 1929.


References in periodicals archive ?
simply mentions "Southwest neo-Kantianism" (35) without explaining that its major figures, Wilhelm Windelband and Heinrich Rickert, sought to place the "human sciences" on an equal footing with the natural sciences by showing that the concepts employed were individual rather than abstract, and were valid for historical occurrences but not universally applicable.
I shall briefly discuss this connection between the historical theory of law and German Idealism as representative of early nineteenth century German historicism before highlighting the connection Beiser draws between the Southwest Neo-Kantianism of thinkers such as Windelband, Rickert, and Lask.
In 1894, Windelband formulated the epistemological dichotomy that divides human sciences into two categories: nomothetic science that concentrates on studying general laws and idiographic science that focuses on studying uniqueness of a single event or a person [59-60].
They included Windelband, Rickert, and Dilthey in the late nineteenth century and, later on, anti-positivists such as Cassirer and members of the Frankfurt School.
Wilhelm Wundt and Wilhelm Windelband at Leipzig also proved important for Royce's later philosophical-historical writing.
The term 'idiographic' was first introduced, in a contrast with 'nomothetic', by the Kantian philosopher of science Wilhelm Windelband in 1894 in this way:
This is one of the reasons why Hegel became a central foil for later philosophies of history, such as Leopold von Ranke's historicism, Karl Marx's dialectical materialism, or major figures of the neo-Kantian movement in philosophy, such as Wilhelm Windelband and Heinrich Rickett.
Mises placed himself in the tradition of the Southwest German School of Wilhelm Dilthey, Wilhelm Windelband, Heinrich Rickert, and Max Weber.
5) Wilhelm Windelband, A History of Philosophy 2: 530.
13) But whereas, in Humanism, the individual is defined, as Wilhelm Windelband notes, in terms of 'cer tain qualities and groups of qualities which it has in common with others', in Angela's Ashes individuality is challenged by the universality of the predicament which it must endure.
In Die Absolutheit des Christentums we can witness the influence of the methodological gains of Rickert and Windelband, especially as history is concerned with the unique and individual.
21) Although Binder and Weisberg have room for so much else, even for Rickert and Windelband, (22) they do not find room to mention my criticisms of West's interpretations both of Kafka and of economic theory.