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Wilhelm Dilthey (1833 - 1911)

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Dilthey:  Philosopher of the Human Sciences Dilthey : Philosopher of the Human Studies by Rudolf A. Makkreel

The philosopher and historian of culture Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) has had a significant and continuing influence on twentieth-century Continental philosophy and in a broad range of scholarly disciplines. In addition to his landmark works on the theories of history and human sciences, Dilthey made important contributions to hermeneutics and phenomenology, aesthetics, psychology, and the methodology of the social sciences. Here Rudolf A. Makkreel interprets Wilhelm Dilthey's philosophy and provides a guide to its complex development. Against the tendency to divorce Dilthey's early psychological writings from his later hermeneutical and historical works, Makkreel argues for their essential continuity. He places Dilthey's aesthetic writings at the center of his thought and explores their philosophical implications for his theory of history.

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Dilthey Biography
From the website


German philosopher who made important contributions to a methodology of the humanities and other human sciences. He objected to the pervasive influence of the natural sciences and developed a philosophy of life emphasizing historical contingency and changeability.

Dilthey was the son of a Reformed Church theologian. After he finished grammar school in Wiesbaden, he began to study theology, first at Heidelberg, then at Berlin, where he soon transferred to philosophy. He taught for a time at secondary schools in Berlin but soon abandoned this to dedicate himself fully to writing..


Introduction to the Human Sciences (Archive)
From the website, these pages are excerpts from Dilthey's  Introduction to the Human Sciences, published by Princeton University Press

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The emancipation of the particular sciences began at the end of the Middle Ages. However, the sciences of society and of history retained their old subservient relation to metaphysics for a long time - well into the eighteenth century. In addition, the increasing power of the knowledge of nature subjugated them in a new manner, and no less oppressively. It was the Historical School - taking that term in its broadest sense - that first brought about the emancipation of historical consciousness and historical scholarship. The French system of social thought developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Its ideas of natural law and natural religion, and its abstract theories of the state and of political economy, manifested their political consequences in the Revolution when the armies of that revolution occupied and destroyed the ramshackle, thousand-year-old edifice of the Holy Roman Empire. At the same time, the view developed in Germany that historical growth is the source of all spiritual facts - a view which proved the falsity of that whole French system of social thought. This insight was shared by Winckelmann and Herder, the Romantic school, Niebuhr, Jakob Grimm, Savigny, and Boeckh. It was strengthened by the reaction against the Revolution. In England, it was promoted by Burke, in France by Guizot' and de Tocqueville. In all the conflicts of European society, it challenged eighteenth-century ideas about law, government, and religion. The Historical School was characterised by a purely empirical mode of observation, sympathetic immersion in the details of the historical process, a universal approach to history aiming to determine the value of a particular state of affairs solely from the context of its development. This school considered spiritual life as historical through and through and approached social theory historically, seeking the explanations and rules of contemporary life in the study of the past. New ideas flowed from it through countless channels into all the particular disciplines.


Wilhelm Dilthey Biography from Encarta
Short bio about Dilthey, German philosopher of history and culture, whose theories have influenced theology and sociology.


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