Epistemology and the Nazi Weltanschauung


- Theory of knowledge

- How we know what we know?


Four epistemological sources:


Rational but prone to manipulation


1. Sensory knowledge plus inductive reasoning

- science, testable generalizations about causality

- truth remains probabilistic and subject to future disconfirmation

2. Deductive reasoning

- logic, mathematics, overall coherence, technical knowledge, engineering

- truth of conclusion follows from rigorous derivation from premisses



Non-rational and arguably prone to irrational appeals


3. Internal knowing

- intuitive, innate, instinct, affective, feelings

- art, culture,

4. Revelation

- religion, transcendent, eternal, mysticism





Nazis used?

Nazis Weltanschauung added?





Deductive reasoning


Science &


Not logical but they were reasonably effective in continuing to engage selectively in using the implications of science, technological innovations and certainly in modernizing Germany.



Non-falsifiable ‘Logic’ or ‘System’.

Truth becomes a function of success in recognition and implementation or ‘embodiment’ of ‘unit-ideas.


Eg. Negative ‘association’ and Positive ‘identification’.





Internal knowing



Art &


Aesthetics is political so they politicized aesthetics.


Fine art, music, craft and architecture.


Eg. Great German Art Shows.



Propaganda to propagate a particular language, view and even experience of the world not just in overtly political and material terms but through aesthetic and affective considerations.


Eg. Degenerate Alien Art Show.





External revelation



Cooptation and coexistence of Protestantism and Catholicism, alongside Neo-paganism.


Emerging break circa 1937-8, especially in discourse of the SS, the leading edge of the Nazi racialized future.

However, once into the war, the Nazi regime retreated to respectful invocations of churches and religiosity.

Hitler characterized and experienced as prophet and increasingly sacralized or sanctified or deified, and Nazism turned into a political religion.





Inductive reasoning


Scientific method


Although they mostly required that science conform to expectations/predictions or racial Weltanschauung, and criticized ‘objectivity’ for failing to be useful to the volk.


Arguably, they would have declined over time given the expulsion of alien scientists and under-investment in genuinely objective academic study.

Racial(ized) science:






Political Science