Who is Paul Gerhard Natorp?

Who is Paul Gerhard Natorp?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Paul Natorp is a famous German philosopher who lived between 1854-1924.

Natorp worked as a professor in Marburg since 1885 and became one of the most important names of the Magburg School, one of the important advocates of the Neo-Kantian school of philosophy. His “Die Philosophie, ihr Problem und ihre Probleme, (1911)” (Philosophy, Its Problem and Its Problems) is considered a good introduction to Kant, Neo-Kantianism and the teachings of his teacher Cohen.

His most famous work is the book “Platos Ideenlehre, (1903)” (Plato’s Teaching of Ideas). In this book, Paul Natorp compared Kant’s doctrine of categories with Plato’s doctrine of ideas and even tried to interpret Kant from a Platonic perspective.

His works in the history of philosophy were also influential outside the academic circle, as they were written in a clear language. As a pedagogue, he also has studies on Pestalozzi.

Sociological Thought

Natorp put the “social man” in front of “man as an individual”. According to him, what is concrete in the human condition is not the individual, but the community and society. Although the individual is not entirely under the determination of society and the community; however, the individual does not have an independent existence and definition from the community and society. Therefore, any individualistic teaching is an incomplete teaching.

Method and View of Science

According to Natorp, life cannot be penetrated scientifically. The integrity and meaning of living can only be reached through living. Therefore, a general logic should not be the logic of the natural sciences, but an overarching philosophical systematic. Natorp develops these views in his work “Philosophische Systematik, 1958” (Philosophical Systematic).

Like his teacher Cohen, he establishes a link between German and Judaism and develops a new view of socialism, later called “social idealism” and “idealistic socialism”. Natorp influenced subsequent socialist-oriented philosophers within the Neo-Kantian schools. His student Martin Heidegger and the theologian Friedrich Gogarten were also influenced by his views.


Kant and Neo-Kantianism; Dogan Ozlem; Cogito; Issue: 41-42 2005; Yapı Kredi Publications