Critical realism

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The critical realism is a philosophical , especially metaphysical and epistemological basic position, which assumes that a real world exists that corresponds to the sensory perception, but (unlike the naive realism ) by way of human perception is not immediately and directly identifiable is to what extent it agrees with the phenomena created by human processing.

A classic example of the limitation of human perception is the frequency range of human hearing, which does not include the tones of a dog whistle or the low tones that are sometimes produced by elephants. The critical realist assumes that the human perceptual world depicts the extra-phenomenal reality relatively well, but does not fully correspond to it. In 1966, Norbert Bischof wrote for the Handbuch der Psychologie (Volume 1/1, edited by Wolfgang Metzger and H. Erke) the contribution " Epistemological basic problems of perception psychology", the first systematic presentation of critical realism for the psychology of perception , one to this day also relevant treatise for the epistemological position of gestalt theory .


Critical Realism, as formulated by Critical Rationalists like Hans Albert or Alan Musgrave , comprises two main theses:

  1. Metaphysics : There is a structured reality that is independent of human thought.
  2. Epistemology : This reality is recognizable to humans at least to a certain extent.

Critical realism takes the side of common sense but does not rely entirely on it. As a philosophically reflected conception, it differs from the naive realism of practical everyday people through its examination based on scientific criticism. Because reality is not always as it appears to everyday thinking.

The progress of knowledge in the sciences is a practically confirmed fact; Criticism must be leveled at the way in which scientific progress is exploited.

In connection with a consistent criticism , critical realism turns against any kind of alleged criticism immunity of ultimate assumptions. This also includes the so-called “pure” epistemology, as presented by Kant , for example, with his attempt at transcendental justification. Rather, the process of human knowledge must also be understood realistically in philosophy and epistemology and measured against the results of empirical research. Since a strategy of justification and ultimate justification are dispensed with, no logical circle can arise in the mutual criticism of epistemology and social-psychological theories of perception and cognition.

The methodology of the sciences can then be understood as a socio-technological application of these empirical theories or as a “rational heuristic”. Critical Realism is not to be confused with Critical Realism .


The (German-speaking) representatives of Critical Realism are named: Nicolai Hartmann , Oswald Külpe , August Messer , Hans Driesch , Erich Becher , Alois Riehl , Johann Friedrich Herbart , Bernhard Bavink , William Stern , Aloys Wenzl and Paul Tholey .

Hans Albert describes critical realism as an essential part of the epistemological position of critical rationalism .

George Santayana is considered an influential American exponent of critical realism. In addition, Roy Wood Sellars and Arthur Lovejoy and - in a broader sense - Bertrand Russell and CD Broad are mentioned. The Canadian Jesuit Bernard Lonergan developed a comprehensive, critically realistic philosophy.

It is also assumed that Aristotle's epistemology can be interpreted in terms of critical realism.

See also


Individual evidence

  1. See full text under web links.
  2. ^ WD Rehfus: Introduction to the Study of Philosophy. 2nd Edition. 1992, ISBN 3-494-02188-0 , p. 35.
  3. a b K. Lorenz: Image theory. In: J. Mittelstraß (Ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy and Philosophy of Science. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, 2005, ISBN 3-476-01372-3 .
  4. ^ William Stern: Person and thing. System of the philosophical world view, Volume 1: Derivation and basic theory. Barth, Leipzig 1906 (2nd edition 1923); Volume 2: The human personality, 1918 (3rd edition 1923); Volume 3: Philosophy of Value, 1924; Accompanying word to Volumes I, II, III on (accessed on January 8, 2019)
  5. Klaus Hentschel : Interpretations and misinterpretations of the special and general relativity theory by Albert Einstein's contemporaries. Science Networks Historical Studies 6. Birkhäuser, Basel 1990, ISBN 3-7643-2438-4 , pp. 249-252.

Web links