Wilhelm Windelband

Wilhelm Windelband

Wilhelm Windelband, prior to 1905
Born May 11, 1848 (1848-05-11)
Potsdam, Brandenburg, Prussia, Germany
Died October 22, 1915 (1915-10-23) (aged 67)
Heidelberg, Grand Duchy of Baden, Germany
Alma mater University of Jena
University of Berlin
University of Göttingen (Dr.phil., 1870)
Era 19th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Neo-Kantianism
Main interests
Metaphysics, mathematics
Notable ideas
The nomotheticidiographic distinction
Wilhelm Windelband
Thesis Die Lehren vom Zufall (The Theories of Chance) (1870)
Doctoral advisor Hermann Lotze

Wilhelm Windelband (May 11, 1848 – October 22, 1915) was a German philosopher of the Baden School.

His grave in Heidelberg


Windelband is now mainly remembered for the terms nomothetic and idiographic, which he introduced. These have currency in psychology and other areas, though not necessarily in line with his original meanings. Windelband was a neo-Kantian who protested other neo-Kantians of his time and maintained that "to understand Kant rightly means to go beyond him". Against his positivist contemporaries, Windelband argued that philosophy should engage in humanistic dialogue with the natural sciences rather than uncritically appropriating its methodologies. His interests in psychology and cultural sciences represented an opposition to psychologism and historicism schools by a critical philosophic system.

Windelband relied in his effort to reach beyond Kant on such philosophers as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Johann Friedrich Herbart and Hermann Lotze. Closely associated with Windelband was Heinrich Rickert. Windelband's disciples were not only noted philosophers, but sociologists like Max Weber and theologians like Ernst Troeltsch and Albert Schweitzer.


The following works by Windelband are available in English translations:


See also


  1. Frederick C. Beiser, The German Historicist Tradition, Oxford UP, 2011, p. 370.
  2. Sebastian Luft (ed.), The Neo-Kantian Reader, Routledge 2015, pp. 461–3.

Further reading

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