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Wilhelm Dilthey on Interrelation - Dictionary of Arguments

Gadamer I 228
Interrelation/Dilthey/Gadamer: The decisive step that Dilthey's epistemological foundation of the humanities has to take is (...) that from the construction of the interrelation in the life experience of the individual the transition to the historical context is found, which is no longer experienced by any individual. Here it becomes necessary - despite all criticism of speculation - to replace real subjects with "logical subjects". >Subject/Dilthey, >Experience/Dilthey.
Dilthey is aware of this awkwardness. But he says to himself that this in itself cannot be inadmissible, as long as the togetherness of individuals - for example in the unity of a generation or a nation - represents a spiritual reality that must be recognized as such, precisely because one cannot go back behind it in an explanatory way. Certainly, these are not real subjects. This is already taught by the fluidity of their boundaries; also, the individual individuals are only ever present with a part of their essence. Yet, according to Dilthey, it is not a question that statements can be made about such subjects. The historian does so constantly when he speaks of the deeds and destinies of peoples(1). The question now is how such statements can be justified epistemologically. >Epistemology/Dilthey.
(...) the problem of history is not how context can be experienced and recognized at all, but how such connections should be recognizable which nobody has experienced as such. After all, there can be no doubt how Dilthey conceived the clarification of this problem from the phenomenon of understanding. Understanding is understanding of expression.
Gadamer I 229
The new methodological clarity that [Dilthey] gained from following Husserl is that he finally integrated the notion of meaning, which arises from the causal relationship and integrated it with Husserl's logical investigations. Dilthey's notion of the structured nature of the soul life corresponded to the doctrine of the intentionality of consciousness in so far as it too describes not only a psychological fact but also a definition of the essence of consciousness in a phenomenological way. Every consciousness is consciousness of something, every behaviour is behaviour towards something. >Meaning/Dilthey, >Lebensphilosophie/Dilthey.
Gadamer I 235
The fact that a structural interrelation can be understood from its own centre (...) corresponded (...) to the old principle of hermeneutics and the demand of historical thought that one must understand a time from within itself and not measure it with the measures of a present foreign to it. According to this scheme - so Dilthey thought - the knowledge of ever further historical contexts could be thought of and extended to universal historical knowledge, just as a word can only be fully understood from the whole sentence, the sentence only in the context of the whole text, indeed of the entire literature handed down.
GadamerVsDilthey: The application of this scheme admittedly presupposes that the historical observer's attachment to the location can be overcome. But exactly this is the claim of the >historical consciousness to have a truly historical standpoint on everything.
Thus Dilthey himself felt to be the true "completer" of the historical world view, because he was the one who sought to legitimize
Gadamer I 236
the consciousness to historical consciousness. What his epistemological reflection sought to justify was basically nothing more than the magnificent epic self-forgetfulness of Ranke.
However, the aesthetic self-forgetfulness was replaced by the sovereignty of an all-round and infinite understanding. The foundation of history in a psychology of understanding, as Dilthey envisioned it, places the historian in precisely that ideal simultaneity with his object that we call aesthetic and admire in Ranke.


1. Dilthey, Ges. Schriften V Il, 282ff. Georg Simmel tries to solve the same problem through the dialectics of experiential subjectivity and factual context - i.e. in the end psychologically. Cf. Brücke und Tür, p. 82f.
2. Ges. Schriften V Il, 291 "As the letters of a word life and history make sense."


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Dilth I
W. Dilthey
Gesammelte Schriften, Bd.1, Einleitung in die Geisteswissenschaften Göttingen 1990

Gadamer I
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik 7. durchgesehene Auflage Tübingen 1960/2010

Gadamer II
H. G. Gadamer
The Relevance of the Beautiful, London 1986
German Edition:
Die Aktualität des Schönen: Kunst als Spiel, Symbol und Fest Stuttgart 1977


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-12-09
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