Wilhelm Dilthey

The materials I use for a half-semester introduction to the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey

Introduction

Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) is an early contributor to what has come to be known as the philosophy of the social sciences and of the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) more generally, i.e., all those forms of theoretical inquiry which are not and, according to Dilthey at least, cannot be scientific in the way in which, say, physics is scientific: philology, historiography, philology, psychology, sociology, economics, etc. But according to Dilthey this does not mean that these disciplines are not scientific in their own distinctive way and it is indeed Dilthey’s life-long endeavour to identify and justify this way. Although Dilthey has had a significant impact on later thinkers, e.g., Husserl, Heidegger and Gadamer; and although there is a growing interest in Dilthey in English-speaking countries: much of his work remains untranslated and there is still not all that much secondary literature on him.

These notes were used as the basis of a half-semester course which formed the latter half of the second year unit “European Philosophy A” in 1996 and in 1998. Most have not been significantly revised or corrected since then. I have made some more significant changes to the last set of notes.

  • This is the first of a set of seven course notes written in 1998 for a seven week introduction to the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey.

  • This is the second of a set of seven course notes written in 1998 for a seven week introduction to the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey. It deals with Chapters One and Two of his Ideas concerning a Descriptive and Analytic Psychology

  • This is the third of a set of seven course notes written in 1998 for a seven week introduction to the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey. It deals with Chapters Three and Four of his Ideas concerning a Descriptive and Analytic Psychology

  • This is the fourth of a set of seven course notes written in 1998 for a seven week introduction to the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey. It deals in more detail with the account Dilthey provides, in Chapters Three and Four of his Ideas concerning a Descriptive and Analytic Psychology, of descriptive or analytic psychology, as opposed to explanative psychology.

  • This is the fifth of a set of seven course notes written in 1998 for a seven week introduction to the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey. According to Dilthey descriptive or analytic psychology studies three different kinds of nexus (Zusammenhang), the cognitive, the affective and the volitive. Since the study of these presupposes awareness of our inner states, in Chapter Six of his Ideas concerning a Descriptive and Analytic Psychology Dilthey introduces the notion of what he (very misleadingly) calls inner perception.

  • This is the sixth of a set of seven course notes written in 1998 for a seven week introduction to the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey. It first briefly examines Dilthey’s remarks, in Chapter Eight and Nine of his Ideas concerning a Descriptive and Analytic Psychology, on the diachronic or developmental dimensional of psychical life. An account is then given of Dilthey’s essay “On the Rise of Hermeneutics,” written in 1900.

  • This is the last of a set of seven course notes written in 1998 for a seven week introduction to the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey. It first concludes the examination of Dilthey’s Ideas concerning a Descriptive and Analytic Psychology, then examines Dilthey’s essay “The Understanding of Other Persons and their Life-Expressions,” written in 1910.

    These notes are not completely worked-out. Nor have I been able to write anything on § 6 of Dilthey’s essay, which is on the topic specifically of interpretation (Auslegung) in contrast to understanding (Verstehen). This is unfortunate because it is a crucial to understanding both earlier Romantic hermeneutics (Schleiermacher) and later so-called philosophical hermeneutics (Heidegger and Gadamer).