Heinrich Rickert

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Rickert, Heinrich


Born May 25, 1863, in Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland); died July 30, 1936, in Heidelberg. German philosopher. One of the founders of the Baden school of neo-Kantianism.

Rickert became a professor at the University of Freiburg in 1894 and at the University of Heidelberg in 1916. His philosophical position emerged after a complex evolution. At first, he analyzed epistemological problems (the subject matter of cognition and the classification of scientific and scholarly disciplines). Later, he constructed a system of philosophy as a theory of values. At the end of his life he endeavored to justify ontology and metaphysics.

Rejecting the “thing-in-itself” as an objective reality from the attitude of neo-Kantianism, Rickert reduced being to the consciousness of the subject, defined as generalized, impersonal consciousness. Based on this, Rickert solved a central problem of his theory of cognition: the problem of the transcendent, or the question of the existence of objective reality independent of consciousness. According to Rickert, the reality that is provided by cognition is immanent to consciousness. He maintained that there is an objective truth independent of the subject, a transcendent reality inaccessible to cognition. Rejecting the theory of reflection, Rickert viewed reality as a result of the activity of impersonal consciousness, which constructs nature (the natural sciences) and culture (the study of culture). The natural sciences are concerned with generalizations, which are laws. History focuses on unique, unrepeatable phenomena and events. Rickert’s fundamental methodological dualism developed in opposition to the generalizing viewpoint of the natural sciences, which are free of values, and in opposition to the individualizing viewpoint of history, which is value-laden. Rickert gives preference to history, because in his opinion it is much closer to reality than the natural sciences, which use concepts that simplify the heterogeneous complexity of being. Rickert’s interpretation of history as a science is directed against the principle of historicism, as well as the materialist understanding of history.

According to Rickert, philosophy is the study of values, which form “a completely independent kingdom lying beyond subject and object” (“On the Concept of Philosophy,” Logos, 1910, book 1, p. 33). Rickert attempted to construct a system of philosophy that would include the suprahistorical relationships of values. Viewing his system as an open one, he differentiated six spheres (logic, aesthetics, mysticism, ethics, eroticism, and religion) and six corresponding values (truth, beauty, suprapersonal holiness, morality, happiness, and personal holiness).

Rickert’s philosophical viewpoint became irrational in his last works, in which he asserted that the concepts of philosophy are not adequate for comprehending life. Criticizing the ontology of N. Hartmann and M. Heidegger, he defended the possibility of constructing ontology as a doctrine concerning aspects of the whole world, and he showed an interest in the problem of the justification and essence of metaphysics.


Das Eine, die Einheit und die Eins: Bemerkungen zur Logik des Zahlbegriffs, 2nd ed. Tubingen, 1924.
System der Philosophie, vol. 1, Tubingen, 1921.
Die Logik des Prädikates und das Problem der Ontologie. Heidelberg, 1930.
Grundprobleme der Philosophie. Tubingen, 1934.
In Russian translation:
V vedenie v transtsendental’nuiu filosofiiu: Predmet poznaniia, 2nd ed. Kiev, 1904.
Granitsy estestvennonauchnogo obrazovaniia poniatii. St. Petersburg, 1903.
Filosofiia istorii. St. Petersburg, 1908.
Nauki o prirode i nauki o kul’ture. St. Petersburg, 1911.
“O sisteme tsennostei.” Logos, 1914, vol. 1, issue 1.
Filosofiia zhizni. Petrograd, 1922.


Sofronov, F. “G. Rikkert i ego kniga Granitsy estestvennonauchnogo obrazovaniia poniatii.” Voprosy filosofii i psikhologii, 1905, book 78 [issue 6].
Iakovenko, B. “Uchenie Rikkerta o sushchnosti filosofii.” Voprosy filosofii i psikhologii, 1913, book 119.
Bakradze, K. S. Ocherki po istorii noveishei i sovremennoi burzhuaznoi filosofii. Tbilisi, 1960. Chapter 5.
Bogomolov, A. S. Nemetskaia burzhuaznaia filosofiia posle 1865 goda. Moscow, 1969.
Sovremennaia burzhuaznaia filosofiia. Moscow, 1972. Chapter 1.
Faust, A. H. Rickert und seine Stellung innerhalb der deutschen Philosophie der Gegenwart. Tubingen, 1927.
Miller-Rostowska, A. Das Individuelle als Gegenstand der Erkenntnis: Eine Studie zur Geschichtsmethodologie H. Rickerts. Winterthur, 1955.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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