Neo-Kantianism is a direction in German philosophy of the second half of the 19th - early 20th centuries. Schools of Neo-Kantianism. Russian Neo-Kantians

Neo-Kantianism is a direction in German philosophy of the second half of the 19th - early 20th centuries. Schools of Neo-Kantianism. Russian Neo-Kantians
Neo-Kantianism is a direction in German philosophy of the second half of the 19th - early 20th centuries. Schools of Neo-Kantianism. Russian Neo-Kantians

"Back to Kant!" - it was under this slogan that a new trend was formed. It has been called neo-Kantianism. This term is usually understood as the philosophical direction of the early twentieth century. Neo-Kantianism prepared fertile ground for the development of phenomenology, influenced the formation of the concept of ethical socialism, and helped to separate the natural and human sciences. Neo-Kantianism is a whole system consisting of many schools founded by the followers of Kant.

Neo-Kantianism. Home

As already mentioned, neo-Kantianism is a philosophical trend in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The direction first arose in Germany in the homeland of the eminent philosopher. The main goal of this trend is to revive Kant's key ideas and methodological guidelines in new historical conditions. Otto Liebman was the first to announce this idea. He suggested that Kant's ideas could betransform under the surrounding reality, which at that time was undergoing significant changes. The main ideas were described in the work "Kant and the epigones".

Neo-Kantians criticized the dominance of positivist methodology and materialistic metaphysics. The main program of this current was the revival of transcendental idealism, which would emphasize the constructive functions of the cognizing mind.

Neo-Kantianism is a large-scale trend that consists of three main directions:

  1. "Physiological". Representatives: F. Lange and G. Helmholtz.
  2. Marburg school. Representatives: G. Cohen, P. Natorp, E. Cassirer.
  3. Baden school. Representatives: V. Windelband, E. Lask, G. Rickert.

Revaluation problem

New research in the field of psychology and physiology made it possible to consider the nature and essence of sensory, rational knowledge from the other side. This led to a revision of the methodological foundations of natural science and became the reason for the criticism of materialism. Accordingly, neo-Kantianism had to re-evaluate the essence of metaphysics and develop a new methodology for cognition of the “science of the spirit.”

The main object of criticism of the new philosophical direction was the teaching of Immanuel Kant about "things in themselves". Neo-Kantianism considered the "thing in itself" as "the ultimate concept of experience". Neo-Kantianism insisted that the object of knowledge is created by human ideas, and not vice versa.

Immanuel Kant

Initially representatives of neo-Kantianismdefended the idea that in the process of cognition a person perceives the world not as it really is, and psychophysiological studies are to blame for this. Later, the emphasis shifted to the study of cognitive processes from the point of view of logical-conceptual analysis. At this moment, schools of neo-Kantianism began to form, which considered Kant's philosophical doctrines from different angles.

Marburg School

The founder of this trend is Hermann Cohen. In addition to him, Paul Natorp, Ernst Cassirer, Hans Vaihinger contributed to the development of neo-Kantianism. N. Hartmany, R. Korner, E. Husserl, I. Lapshin, E. Bernstein and L. Brunswik also fell under the influence of the ideas of Magbus neo-Kantianism.

Trying to revive Kant's ideas in a new historical formation, representatives of neo-Kantianism started from the real processes that took place in the natural sciences. Against this background, new objects and tasks for study arose. At this time, many laws of Newtonian-Galilean mechanics were declared invalid, and, accordingly, philosophical and methodological guidelines turned out to be ineffective. During the XIX-XX centuries. there were several innovations in the scientific field that had a great influence on the development of neo-Kantianism:

  1. Until the middle of the 19th century, it was generally accepted that the universe was based on the laws of Newtonian mechanics, time flows evenly from the past to the future, and space is based on the ambush of Euclidean geometry. A new look at things was opened by Gauss's treatise, which speaks of surfaces of revolution of a constant negativecurvature. The non-Euclidean geometries of Boya, Riemann and Lobachevsky are considered consistent and true theories. New views on time and its relationship with space have been formed, in this matter the decisive role was played by Einstein's theory of relativity, who insisted that time and space are interconnected.
  2. Physicists began to rely on the conceptual and mathematical apparatus in the process of planning research, and not on instrumental and technical concepts that only conveniently described and explained experiments. Now the experiment was planned mathematically and only then carried out in practice.
  3. It used to be that new knowledge multiplies the old, that is, they are simply added to the general information treasury. The cumulative system of views reigned. The introduction of new physical theories caused the collapse of this system. What used to seem true has now receded into the realm of primary, unfinished research.
  4. As a result of experiments, it became clear that a person does not just passively reflect the world around him, but actively and purposefully forms objects of perception. That is, a person always brings something of his subjectivity into the process of perception of the surrounding world. Later, this idea turned into a whole "philosophy of symbolic forms" among the neo-Kantians.

All these scientific changes required serious philosophical reflection. The neo-Kantians of the Marburg school did not stand aside: they offered their own view of the reality that had formed, based on the knowledge gleaned from Kant's books. The key thesis of representativesof this trend said that all scientific discoveries and research activities testify to the active constructive role of human thought.

neo-kantianism is

The human mind is not a reflection of the world, but is able to create it. He brings order to the incoherent and chaotic existence. Only thanks to the creative power of the mind, the surrounding world did not turn into a dark and mute non-existence. Reason gives things logic and meaning. Hermann Cohen wrote that thinking itself can give rise to being. Based on this, we can talk about two fundamental points in philosophy:

  • Principled anti-substantialism. Philosophers tried to abandon the search for the fundamental principles of being, which were obtained by the method of mechanical abstraction. The neo-Kantians of the Magbur school believed that the only logical basis of scientific propositions and things is functional connection. Such functional connections bring into the world a subject who is trying to know this world, has the ability to judge and criticize.
  • Antimetaphysical setting. This statement calls to stop creating different universal pictures of the world, it is better to study the logic and methodology of science.

Correcting Kant

And yet, taking as a basis the theoretical base from Kant's books, the representatives of the Marburg school subject his teachings to serious adjustments. They believed that Kant's trouble was in the absolutization of established scientific theory. Being a young man of his time, the philosopher took classical Newtonian mechanics and Euclidean geometry seriously. He tookalgebra to a priori forms of sensory contemplation, and mechanics to the category of reason. Neo-Kantians considered this approach fundamentally wrong.

From Kant's critique of practical reason, all realistic elements are consistently eliminated, and, first of all, the concept of "thing in itself". Marburgers believed that the subject of science appears only through an act of logical thinking. There can be no objects that can exist by themselves, in principle, there is only objectivity created by acts of rational thinking.

E. Cassirer said that people do not know objects, but objectively. The neo-Kantian view of science identifies the object of scientific knowledge with the subject; scientists have completely abandoned any opposition of one to the other. Representatives of the new direction of Kantianism believed that all mathematical dependencies, the concept of electromagnetic waves, the periodic table, social laws are a synthetic product of the activity of the human mind, with which the individual orders reality, and not the objective characteristics of things. P. Natorp argued that not thinking should be consistent with the subject, but vice versa.

Ernst Cassirer

Also, the neo-Kantians of the Marburg school criticize the judgmental abilities of the Kantian conception of time and space. He considered them to be forms of sensibility, and the representatives of the new philosophical trend - forms of thinking.

On the other hand, the people of Marburg must be given their due in a scientific crisis, when scientists doubted the constructive and projective abilities of the human mind.With the spread of positivism and mechanistic materialism, philosophers managed to defend the position of philosophical reason in science.


Marburgers are also right that all important theoretical concepts and scientific idealizations will always be and have been the fruits of the work of the mind of a scientist, and are not extracted from human life experience. Of course, there are concepts that cannot be found in reality, for example, "ideal black body" or "mathematical point". But other physical and mathematical processes are quite explainable and understandable due to theoretical constructs that can make any experiential knowledge possible.

Another idea of ​​the neo-Kantians emphasized the exceptional importance of the role of logical and theoretical criteria of truth in the process of cognition. This mainly concerned mathematical theories, which are the armchair creation of a theoretician and become the basis of promising technical and practical inventions. Further more: today, computer technology is based on logical models created in the 20s of the last century. Likewise, the rocket engine was thought of long before the first rocket flew into the sky.

It is also true that the neo-Kantians thought that the history of science cannot be understood outside the internal logic of the development of scientific ideas and problems. There can't even be a question of direct social and cultural determination.

In general, the philosophical worldview of neo-Kantians is characterized by a categorical rejection of any kind of philosophical rationalism from the books of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche toworks of Bergson and Heidegger.

Ethical Doctrine

Marburgers stood for rationalism. Even their ethical doctrine was completely imbued with rationalism. They believe that even ethical ideas have a functional-logical and constructively-ordered nature. These ideas take the form of the so-called social ideal, according to which people should construct their social existence.

criticism of judgment

Freedom, which is regulated by a social ideal, is the formula of the neo-Kantian vision of the historical process and social relations. Another feature of the Marburg trend is scientism. That is, they believed that science is the highest form of manifestation of human spiritual culture.


Neo-Kantianism is a philosophical trend that rethinks Kant's ideas. Despite the logical validity of the Marburg concept, it had significant shortcomings.

Firstly, by refusing to study classical epistemological problems about the connection between knowledge and being, philosophers doomed themselves to abstract methodologism and one-sided consideration of reality. An idealistic arbitrariness reigns there, in which the scientific mind plays "ping-pong of concepts" with itself. Excluding irrationalism, the people of Marburg themselves provoked irrationalist voluntarism. If experience and facts are not so significant, then the mind "is allowed to do everything."

Secondly, the neo-Kantians of the Marburg school could not refuse the ideas of God and Logos, this made the doctrine very controversial, givenneo-Kantian tendency to rationalize everything.

Baden School

Magburgian thinkers gravitated toward mathematics, Badenian neo-Kantianism was oriented toward the humanities. This trend is associated with the names of V. Windelband and G. Rickert.

Triving towards the humanities, the representatives of this trend singled out a specific method of historical knowledge. This method depends on the type of thinking, which is divided into nomothetic and ideographic. Nomothetic thinking is used mainly in natural science, characterized by a focus on the search for patterns of reality. Ideographic thinking, in turn, is aimed at studying historical facts that occurred in a particular reality.

critique of practical reason

These types of thinking could be used to study the same subject. For example, if we study nature, then the nomothetic method will give a taxonomy of living nature, and the idiographic method will describe specific evolutionary processes. Subsequently, the differences between these two methods were brought to mutual exclusion, the idiographic method began to be considered a priority. And since history is created within the framework of the existence of culture, the central issue that the Baden school developed was the study of the theory of values, that is, axiology.

Problems of the doctrine of values

Axiology in philosophy is a discipline that explores values ​​as the meaning-forming foundations of human existence that guide and motivate a person. This science studies the characteristicsof the surrounding world, its values, methods of cognition and the specifics of value judgments.

Axiology in philosophy is a discipline that has gained its independence thanks to philosophical research. In general, they were connected by such events:

  1. I. Kant revised the rationale for ethics and identified the need for a clear distinction between what should and what is.
  2. In post-Hegelian philosophy, the concept of being was divided into “actualized real” and “desired due”.
  3. Philosophers have realized the need to limit the intellectualist claims of philosophy and science.
  4. The irremovability of the cognition of the evaluative moment was revealed.
  5. The values ​​of Christian civilization were called into question, mainly the books of Schopenhauer, the works of Nietzsche, Dilthey and Kierkegaard.
axiology in philosophy

Meanings and values ​​of neo-Kantianism

The philosophy and teachings of Kant, together with a new worldview, made it possible to come to the following conclusions: some objects have value for a person, while others do not, so people notice them or do not notice them. In this philosophical direction, values ​​were called meanings that are above being, but are not directly related to the object or subject. Here the sphere of the theoretical is opposed to the real and develops into the "world of theoretical values". The theory of knowledge is beginning to be understood as a "critique of practical reason", that is, a science that studies meanings, refers to values, and not to reality.

Rikkert talked about such an example as the intrinsic value of the Kohinoor diamond. He is consideredunique and one of a kind, but this uniqueness does not occur inside the diamond as an object (in this matter, it has such qualities as hardness or brilliance). And it is not even a subjective vision of one person who can define it as useful or beautiful. Uniqueness is a value that unites all objective and subjective meanings, forming what in life is called the Kohinoor Diamond. Rickert, in his main work "The Limits of the Natural Scientific Formation of Concepts," said that the highest task of philosophy is to determine the relation of values ​​to reality.

Neo-Kantianism in Russia

The Russian neo-Kantians include those thinkers who were united by the journal "Logos" (1910). These include S. Gessen, A. Stepun, B. Yakovenko, B. Foght, V. Seseman. The neo-Kantian trend in this period was formed on the principles of strict scientificity, so it was not easy for him to make his way in the conservative irrational-religious Russian philosophizing.

And yet the ideas of neo-Kantianism were accepted by S. Bulgakov, N. Berdyaev, M. Tugan-Baranovsky, as well as some composers, poets and writers.

Representatives of Russian neo-Kantianism gravitated toward the Baden or Magbur schools, so they simply supported the ideas of these trends in their works.

Free Thinkers

In addition to the two schools, the ideas of neo-Kantianism were supported by free thinkers such as Johann Fichte or Alexander Lappo-Danilevsky. Even if some of them did not even suspect that their work would influence the formationnew trend.

gears of the mind

There are two main periods in Fichte's philosophy: in the first he supported the ideas of subjective idealism, and in the second he switched to the side of objectivism. Johann Gottlieb Fichte supported the ideas of Kant, and thanks to him he became famous. He believed that philosophy should be the queen of all sciences, "practical reason" should be based on the ideas of "theoretical", and the problems of duty, morality and freedom became basic in his research. Many of the works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte influenced the scientists who stood at the origins of the founding of the neo-Kantian movement.

A similar story happened to the Russian thinker Alexander Danilevsky. He was the first to substantiate the definition of historical methodology as a special branch of scientific and historical knowledge. In the field of neo-Kantian methodology, Lappo-Danilevsky raised questions of historical knowledge, which remain relevant today. These include the principles of historical knowledge, evaluation criteria, the specifics of historical facts, cognitive goals, etc.

Over time, neo-Kantianism was replaced by new philosophical, sociological and cultural theories. However, neo-Kantianism was not discarded as an obsolete doctrine. To some extent, it was on the basis of neo-Kantianism that a lot of concepts grew up that absorbed the ideological developments of this philosophical trend.

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