Rickert, Heinrich

(1863-1936)
   philosopher; with Ernst Cassirer,* considered the premier neo-Kantian of the Weimar years. Born in Danzig* to an accomplished National Liberal parliamentarian and Reichstag* member, he studied philosophy under Wilhelm Windelband at Strassburg and took a doc-torate in 1888. He completed his Habilitation at Freiburg in 1891 and was named professor at the same school in 1894. The truly systematic mind in the Baden or Southwest German School of neo-Kantianism (embracing Strassburg, Freiburg, and Heidelberg, it was distinct from the more empirical Marburg School), he was concerned with a universal theory of values and wished to revitalize Kant's categorical imperative. By promoting an objective science of culture—one viewing law, religion, and history as universal forms of knowl-edge—he helped lay a foundation for the social sciences. With Wilhelm Dilthey, he promoted a controversial antipositivism. His principal works were Kultur-wissenschaft und Naturwissenschaft (Cultural science and natural science, 1899) and Die Grenzen der naturwissenschaftlichen Begriffsbildung (Limits of concept formulation in the natural sciences, 1902), which sustained a distinction between cultural studies and science. His last major book was System der Philosophie (1921), a study linking the rational and the irrational.
   Rickert succeeded Heidelberg's Windelband (1848-1915), his Doktorvater,in 1916. He was a long-time friend of sociologist Max Weber,* who became his philosophical student upon publication of Die Grenzen; indeed, part of Weber's theory is grounded in Rickert's philosophy. While Heidelberg deepened this friendship, it also escalated the effects of a nervous disease (chronic agorapho-bia) that forced Rickert to leave the classroom and eventually made him an invalid. As his health deteriorated, so did his intellectual influence. Because of a narrow devotion to universal moral truths, he came close to discounting any-thing lacking permanent value. As a critic of Lebensphilosophie, an ideology gleaned from Dilthey that opposed causal explanation and aimed to unite the world of being with that of ideas, he vainly tried to block Karl Jaspers's* ap-pointment at Heidelberg in 1922 and published an assault on Edmund Husserl,* his successor at Freiburg.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Oakes, Weber and Rickert; Fritz Ringer, Decline of the German Mandarins; Schnadelbach, Philosophy in Germany.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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