Rickert Heinrich

Rickert Heinrich

(1863-1936) German NEO-KANTIAN social philosopher, whose ideas influenced WEBER. His major works include Science and History (1899), and The Limits of Natural Scientific Conceptualization (1902). He argued that DILTHEY and WINDELBAND's separation of cultural and natural sciences made polar opposites out of a continuum. Like Windelband, Rickert argued that sociological and cultural studies could employ both IDIOGRAPHIC AND NOMOTHETIC methods. The complexity of social phenomena meant that all forms of knowledge involved simplification, i.e. relied on generalization or on accounts of phenomena in the light of their relevance for value. He accepted that at base all sociological knowledge was historical, but argued that it was possible to achieve greater objectivity than suggested by Dilthey. His proposal was a science of culture which sought to lay bare its essential components: ‘constellations of meaning and value’. Rickert can be seen as the least subjectivist of the neo-Kantian school.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000