Wilhelm Dilthey

Wilhelm Dilthey ( born November 19, 1833 in Wiesbaden- Biebrich, † October 1, 1911 in Siusi, South Tyrol ) was a German theologian, a high school teacher and philosopher.

Contrary to his time highly popular naturalism Dilthey developed a life- philosophical foundation, which no longer declared human life and the forms of its expression only by natural laws, but rather sought to understand the autonomy of human mental life.

Dilthey expanded this approach from the theory of science and formulated in contrast to the natural sciences, a theory of the humanities, as its founder, he is. As the method he developed hermeneutics and understand psychology further in a substantial manner.

An empirical application of Dilthey brought his methods in philosophical teaching, a scheme of interpretation for his opinion, failed systems of metaphysics. In it, Dilthey tried to show how all of the different and contradictory metaphysical systems have their common origin in the context of life of people at the same time he categorized the historical approaches according to different " types of belief ."

  • 2.2.1 Understand and Explain
  • 2.2.2 hermeneutics
  • 2.2.3 Psychology
  • 2.2.4 Objective Spirit
  • 2.2.5 Experience, expression, understanding
  • 2.3.1 After the end of metaphysics
  • 2.3.2 Philosophy of Philosophy
  • 2.3.3 Types belief
  • 6.1 Significant individual works
  • 6.2 editorship
  • 6.3 correspondence


Wilhelm Dilthey was born in 1833 the son of a Calvinist preacher family. His father was Maximilian Dilthey (1804-1867), court preacher of Nassau in Biebrich, his mother Maria Laura Heuschkel (1810-1887), daughter of the ducal Kapellmeister in Hildburghausen. His brother, Charles (1839-1907) was professor of archeology, his sister Caroline was married to the philologist Hermann Usener.

He attended high school in Wiesbaden and lectured there in 1852 high school the theme " On the influence of ancient Greece on the youth." In Berlin (1853 ) and Heidelberg (1852 ), he studied at the request of his parents, theology, history and philosophy, among others in August Boeckh, Kuno Fischer, Leopold von Ranke and Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg.

In 1856 he took his first theological state exam. After completion of the state Office of Education examination he became a teacher at the French and Joachimsthal Gymnasium in Berlin. In 1864 he received his doctorate with a work written in Latin about the ethics of Schleiermacher, habilitated in the same year on the moral consciousness and was a lecturer at the Berlin Friedrich- Wilhelms-Universität. In 1867 he was appointed to a professorship of philosophy in Basel. This was followed by employment in Kiel ( 1868-71 ), Breslau ( 1871-83 ). 1870 appeared the first volume of "The Life of Schleiermacher ," the reputation of Dilthey established as historical scholars. In the Breslau Dilthey began friendship with Count Paul Yorck von Wartenberg, with whom he henceforth led a lively correspondence which his engagement with philosophical and humanities subjects significantly fertilized.

In 1882 he was called to Berlin as the successor of Rudolf Hermann Lotze, who died suddenly, where he taught from 1883 to 1908. 1883 appeared also the first volume of the " Introduction to the Human Sciences", Dilthey devoted to Count Yorck. Dilthey 1894 published the " ideas about a descriptive and dissecting psychology." Due to a sharp criticism Hermann Ebbinghauses to the " ideas ", Dilthey made ​​his plans for a second volume of the fall " discharges ".

1900 appeared the first volume of Edmund Husserl's " Logical Investigations ". Dilthey dealt intensively with them apart and made ​​some corrections in his own work, which inspired him to a systematic continuation of the "Introduction". 1905 Husserl came to Berlin to Dilthey to visit. Dilthey was 1906 with the publication of " The experience and the seal " also known beyond the circle of professional colleagues beyond. A Dilthey school established in 1911 with the publication of the anthology " philosophy, philosophy and religion," to which Husserl in sharp contrast with his essay responded " philosophy as rigorous science ." There followed an exchange of letters between the two, but this did not help to clarify the differences. 1911 died Dilthey in Seis by disease in the Ruhr.



Detachment from naturalism

Naturalism has performed as a flow since the 17th century to being a mechanical- causal understanding of nature was also applied to the inner life of man, so his spirit and ability to feel the same causal laws were assumed, as they found when the physical description of nature. Kant tried to solve this problem by he understood the physical nature as a description of nature by pure reason. This distinction is a separation of thing ahead in themselves and appearances. These are, according to Kant, only the phenomena that can capture the intuition of the mind and that are used to ascribe causality. Whether the causality, however, also plays the lying behind the appearance thing in itself, remains uncertain.

This explanation, however, has not meant that the science evaluated their results as means of construction and hypothetical evidence. Rather took the view that the natural sciences could explain its object directly, a first peak in positivism and naturalism, as it were of Comte and Mill. Here was found for Dilthey the obvious problem that if all processes are causally determined reason, the positivist and naturalistic conception of man himself is determined. This, however, raises the claim to certainty among various alternative views to themselves.

Dilthey's solution is to distinguish between natural and social sciences, which at the same time the autonomy and freedom of the rational being man is to restore: instead of in the natural context ribbon Dilthey the people here in the historical and cultural context, one within which his spiritual spontaneity shows and trains. Just as Kant and his Critique of Pure Reason was trying to explain the epistemological basis of science, Dilthey tried in his lifelong project of a critique of historical reason, to lay the foundation for the humanities as designated by him. The title of a historical reason already shows Dilthey's critique of Kant Thus Dilthey is the reason no timeless and unchanging size of an individual subject, but has undergone its expression throughout history and is stated thus. In it so man also flow the historically developed acts and practices of the culture being one with. Dilthey's basically historical orientation went here on JG Droysens historical and philosophical ideas back of historicism. However, the critique of historical reason relates not only to Kant but lays claim to look at the entire history of metaphysics. Following Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit Dilthey described his program as a phenomenology of metaphysics. Unlike Hegel, he did not lead the historical process together into a metaphysical system of absolute knowledge, which should eventually provide absolute certainty. Rather, his view takes the opposite approach, namely, to show how a belief expresses only through the many small certainties that are rooted in the immediate certainty of the experience and of life itself. This then serves him well as a foundation to justify the humanities. Your goal is a " understanding of life and of history."

Philosophy of life

After these early personal detachment from naturalism and positivism, Dilthey sought a new foundation, can be understood from which human life in its entirety. Major approaches this can be found in his elaborations on a planned, but never published the second volume of the Introduction to the Human Sciences ( 1883), the so-called Breslauer elaboration that was present in 1880 largely formulated. Dilthey developed here with regard to the German idealist tradition, its greatly expanded notion of consciousness as a central instance of the experience:

" My consciousness is the place which includes all this, seemingly immeasurable outside world, the substance from which all objects that come in it are woven. So far they extend me appearing objects, so far extends the context of my ideas. What is found in them, the hardness of which smashed the blistering heat, which melts everything to the depths of the objects is a fact of my consciousness, and the thing is sort of a composition of such spiritual facts. "

However, awareness of Dilthey is not a perceptual "box", which hosts the experiences. This conception of consciousness goes for Dilthey on a misguided focus on linguistic structures back: Only the nominalized "consciousness" is seen as a thing and then calls for a predicate. The concept of consciousness is for Dilthey rather having and not descriptive. In this Aufweisung of consciousness as a whole facts of life is for Dilthey overcoming a philosophy which originates only from the theoretical sense and therefore never able to overcome the opposition of body and soul and inner world - outside world. Both mind and body, inside and outside, is still bound by the consciousness in which all this is just given. Here, although the events of the outside world run independently of which of consciousness from ( as an independent physical processes ), but are only there for a consciousness: " In this regard, an independent from me outside world my life is. " So Dilthey makes our experience finding asserted in all its breadth and understand the life process as a unit in which recognition, imagination, evaluation, feeling, acting and want to always be already in relation to an external world. Thus, the pure knowing subject is overcome:

" In the veins of the knowing subject, Locke, Hume, and Kant construct, runs not real blood, but the diluted juice of reason as a mere activity of thought. But I was led historical and psychological study of the whole person then, this, in the multiplicity of his powers, this wanting and feeling percipient beings to be based also the explanation of knowledge [ ... ]. "

The Descartes arisen idea of a subject to insure only the outside world would be Dilthey rejects by referring to the experience as the basic structure of all reality. Thus, it is no longer self-sufficient subject on which only occasionally acting experience from the outside, but everything that happens is integrated in an overall context, ie is experienced. The Cartesian separation of subject and the outside world, however, can be accomplished only in theory, it can not be experienced.

" The indissoluble experience can most easily in its universality by consciousness [ie Understanding ] be brought, that I imagine it canceling assertion may exist anything at all; then occurs with irresistible force, the reality in front of me, which is connected with the consciousness of the fact that something is there for me. " ( Emphasis added. )

To make the experience afforded in its generality: it's all reality based. The experience and the whole context of life, therefore, is also the only "pure reason" arises. Dilthey's rejection of Hegel and Kant is that there are no longer the logical laws of thought which dominate our perception of reality and so " is not floating in the air evidence of thinking, the basis of science, but a reality, full, we next and most important reality. "And it creates the prospect " of this immediate knowledge of reality from the achievements of thought [ie To make logic ] course. "

The immediate existence of contents of consciousness for a self, to the ever present in every biography of the person relating this content Dilthey called life. The content is never alone, but always intertwined, because nothing new can come into this relationship without putting in some form to him with respect. With his conception of consciousness as life and experience, he overcame three weaknesses of older theories of consciousness: there for him

In terms of awareness Dilthey called then a localized region of this life and experience. The reality is exactly then this life as the context of experiences. If it is to be understood, so understanding is only possible as a movement from life to life. The understanding includes not only the minds with one, but the totality of human mental powers. Dilthey was so in 1900, the central figure in the so-called philosophy of life in Germany.

Reasons for the Humanities

Understanding and explaining

After Dilthey had identified with life and consciousness for all human experience and comprehension processes (including the sciences ) common origin, he could concentrate on working out the differences between the natural sciences and the historically oriented spiritual science. Main element of this distinction is Dilthey's assumption that the natural sciences explain the processes of nature, while the humanities try to understand the historical and cultural events. This understanding is based in a reliving of a strange existence, as expressed in writing, language, gestures, facial expressions, art, etc.. This process rezipiert not simply passively present his symbols, but requires an active reliving.

The following juxtaposition outlines some differences between natural and social science. It should however be noted that it was never Dilthey to a completely sharp or even absolute separation of the two sciences. (See also the section on criticism. ) The late Dilthey then also chose to " The formation of the historical world in the human sciences " (1910 ) a different scheme for explaining the Humanities ( Experience, expression, comprehension), the less against the demarcation the natural sciences is motivated as from the subject matter of the humanities themselves.


Generally understood as the interpretation or hermeneutics interpretation of the reality of life in time ( past-present - future). The detection of the reality of life is mediated by the experience, expression and understanding ( according to Dilthey ). In the philosophical tradition of hermeneutics has ( since the 19th cent.) Three functions:

  • Foundation of a specific humanities method (as opposed to science )
  • Emphasis on the historicity of the people in his life world
  • Analysis of the conditions of (life) expressions of the people (about art ) in the whole of his ( world) horizon ( Weltanschauung! )

As a method of Humanities Dilthey formulated in the tradition of Schleiermacher's hermeneutics. Schleiermacher was the first freed the hermeneutics of the mere method of text interpretation, and generally open for the area of understanding. Not only receives each word its meaning only in the context of the text, but also the thought, the literary genre, chapter divisions, etc. are taken into account. Dilthey based thereon, extends the hermeneutic considerations but to all human manifestations of life. Meaning is thus always context-dependent and never absolute. Human gestures, art, architectural style, laws, orders, religious ideas are understandable only in the context of meaning.

Now arises for hermeneutics, Dilthey, according to the following problem: In an attempt to understand the detail by its relation to the whole, it is assumed that this whole thing is already known. On the other hand, is to be developed precisely through the understanding of aspects of the context of the whole. Thus, there is a circle: The Individual reveals itself from the whole, the whole of the individual. This problem - the so-called hermeneutic circle - had already been formulated in the field of Philology by Friedrich Ast, and also in Schleiermacher's hermeneutics, it plays a significant role. Dilthey now accessed as well. That circle means no shortage, which adheres to the method, but the trait of understanding at all. The wording of that circle theorem takes into account the facts that the individual elements of a complex sense get their meaning only through its relation to the whole sense. This means elements of meaning can only be understood by means of a Ausgriffs on the whole sense. Conversely, however, can only be gained through the passage of individual elements of the latter in turn. Here, the real reason for the need of those circular method can be seen.

So Hermeneutics suggests that any fact, insight or observation is always already bound to a previous understanding. This is true, as Dilthey, on the natural sciences. In this sense, there is not, like the empiricist philosophers of science of his time believed that "raw data" that are entirely free of any interpretation. Every scientific observation is thus an implicit or explicit theory underlying or more generally a pre-understanding of the matter.

Saw Dilthey initially the experience as the basis of hermeneutics and understanding as a psychological empathy with the mental processes of an author, he later gave way from this psychological viewpoint from and moved the terms of the expression and the expression of understanding at the heart of the humanities Methodology: The Humanities had the task of clarifying the relationship between experience, expression and understanding. That term is rather objectification of the universal spirit of an age as a manifestation of individual impulses of life of an author or artist.

On Dilthey's formulation of hermeneutics knüpften in the 20th century, especially Martin Heidegger, Hans -Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur.


Since the subjects of hermeneutics are not natural processes and things, but spiritual products, the psychology was the foundation of the hermeneutics of Dilthey. However, Dilthey did not mean that developed from natural science explanatory psychology here. This seemed appropriate as it dissolved the unity of consciousness and as the hermeneutic approach failed to understand human utterances in context. For Dilthey, it was impossible to subsequently reconstruct only from particular facts mental and behavioral patterns the context of the whole.

A -understand psychology, however, has to do with phenomena that can be experienced. Do not attempt to comprehend a single experience as a case of a general psychological pattern, rather than individual experience to understand each as something in which cooperating processes of the whole mind. In order for this form of psychology is largely descriptive.

Objective spirit

Dilthey later opened his approach to the individual psychological approach for the consideration of objective aspects that affect the individual. This was mainly due to his confrontation with Edmund Husserl's " Logical Investigations I" (1901) and his work on Hegel's concept of objective spirit ( "Youth History Hegel ", 1901-1906 ). His ideas are reflected in the work " The formation of the historical world in the human sciences " (1910) and supplement the program of the foundation of the humanities.

Since the individual to the outer cultural, social, religious and social conditions can not have, but this spiritual influence it in his thinking and behavior, Dilthey speaks in terms of them from the " objective spirit ". The objective mind consists of " creations of the common life" as they are reflected in rules, practices, values ​​and determination of goals. To understand, for example, a political decision in the Middle Ages, it is not enough to put yourself in the parties involved, but one must also know the usual procedures, know what values ​​the purposes specified and the means for this were widely seen as adequate.

Of course, in all this, the objective spirit is not something that exists in itself, but it always requires a subjective manifestation. Despite the subjectivity of spirit, however, has subjective character; because something that has grown in the historical process is not under the control of the individual subject. ( No man alone brings forth the language that he speaks, but he accepts them and has meaning only as a common practice. ) The most important means of understanding is thus again a historical perspective. With this approach, Dilthey also turned against Hegel, of which he had taken over the term of the objective spirit:

" [ T] he conditions, has put this concept to Hegel, can not be held today. He constructed the communities from the general rational will. We must start from the reality of life today; in life, the totality of the psychic link is effective. Hegel constructed metaphysical; We analyze the given. "

In contrast to Hegel's focus on the manifestation of objective rationality allows Dilthey's focus on the historical context of life all aspects of human life - including the irrational. Thus the realm of objective spirit is not to be equated with eternal truths. Which emerged from the communal life creations are historically contingent and therefore always relative to the context in which they are embedded:

" The relativity of every kind of human conception is the last word of historical thinking view, everything in the process flowing, nothing permanent."

Experience, expression, understanding

In the "Design" clarified Dilthey the form of knowledge of the humanities through the concepts Experience, expression, understanding.

" The human race would be interpreted in perception and cognition, for us a physical fact, and it would be as such only available to the scientific knowledge. As an object of the humanities but it arises only if the human condition be experienced, if they get into expressions of life expressed and where these terms are understood. " ( Emphasis added. )

The humanities go the relation of experience, expression and understanding by. However, Dilthey was a knowledge theoretical clarification of these three concepts and their relationship guilty. This can, however, also be seen as an advantage if you also consider that Dilthey emphasized the self-reflection of the spiritual scientist: "The work itself, which is done in the workshop of spiritual science, is to be charged to his senses. "

This liquefies the theory of Humanities and she gets the opportunity to dynamically adapt methods by reflection on its subject - just as so do the natural sciences, because:

" These [ie the natural sciences ] have their subject not in the impressions as they occur in the experiences, but in the objects, which provides the recognition to these impressions to make constructible. In both cases, the object is created from the law of the facts themselves. In this match, both groups of sciences. "

This means that the hard distinction falls ( as it represented about neo-Kantianism ) of historical- descriptive and systematic explanatory method. The historical humanities are directed not only to a Singular (eg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Bremen), but capture very well also general structures ( for example, the city in the Middle Ages ). Dilthey explains this with the example of Bismarck. In order to understand him as a person, there is a wealth of material before: to recognize letters procedural documents, stories, reports, etc., however, it is not enough to combine them just because " to people, events, states as this effect relation belonging, he needs [ sc the humanities ] general propositions. They are then also its Bismarck understanding is based. " Then studied the humanities not only the person Bismarck, but also the location and condition of the Prussian state, the then current political events and how this feeds back to Bismarck's attitude and actions.

So in order to understand Bismarck ultimately, it is not enough to " empathize " with him, but it must also consider the objective conditions are also taken into account. From this ratio are then obtained new general theorems about Bismarck person with whom the scholars can continue working. Here come to capture the objective historical conditions not just the historical humanities but the systematic economic, cultural, legal, social and political sciences in attack and their general knowledge they provide.

Thus Dilthey rejected the established von Ranke in historicism ideal of a pure description from an impossible demand. Despite everything, remains a paradox: Dilthey won his theory of knowledge in the humanities only in view of its subject. Just like this to understand (namely, the " formation of the historical world " ), to the humanities but but clarify before. Now it reinforced Dilthey also the proper law and the individuality of the story when he conceived this as a causal relationship. Here, history is understood as a " causal relationship, which is centered in himself, in which each individual action relating contained in it by the setting of values ​​and the realization of purposes has its center in itself, but all are structurally connected to a whole. " this means that no longer is sharply divided between historical facts, personal purposes and general standards, but these are all only in the context and act. This objective orientation in Dilthey's late work leads to some non- levied defects. So about not see how prescriptive standards is to be derived from descriptive sentences of the historian. Thus, the relativity is against any historically seen before opinion and belief of the target of Dilthey generality of historical consciousness. The latter wins her law only as emancipation of man from religion and metaphysics, which can then confidently " every experience wrest his salary to him completely surrender, as if no system of philosophy or belief that could bind people. "

Philosophical doctrine

After the end of metaphysics

Dilthey saw in 1887 before the " ruins of philosophy ": the " systems of metaphysics have fallen ," he said in his inaugural speech at the Academy of Sciences. The German idealism was presented with Fichte, Schelling and Hegel "the last great attempt of the human mind ", but proved to be untenable.

Despite everything, Dilthey was of the opinion that you could not just walk past these efforts. He wanted to gain an understanding of ways of thinking and motives that have led to the philosophical-historical developments. However, Dilthey developed this understanding are not abstract laws of thought or metaphysical assumptions, but by the hermeneutic access to the story. The various religious, metaphysical and scientific systems can then be understood as worldviews that have their common origin in the context of life of the people.

The philosophy due to its unity, was a passion that certain Dilthey whole effort. Once he told of a dream in which the great philosophers appeared to him in a hall; they formed three groups: the positivists and materialists d' Alembert, Comte, Archimedes gathered at one end of the hall; they mocked the group of idealists, in which Fichte, Schiller, Plato were. Away was a third group; this was talking about the divine harmony of the universe; Spinoza, Leibniz, Hegel found in this group.

" [ T] he distance that separated these groups grew with every second - then the floor itself disappeared between them - a terrible enemy mood she seemed to separate - I was overcome by a strange fear that philosophy three times or maybe even several times since seemed to be - the unity of my own nature seemed to tear up because I was eagerly soon attracted to this, now to that group and I aspired to, to assert them. "

This dream Dilthey, which he told in retrospect in old age on his life's work, showing how his heart and soul attached to them to lead the philosophy back to unity and thus the philosophy in general to assert itself as a philosophy. What man, as Dilthey, this only tells him the story. It is the " passion of historical consciousness " which Dilthey drive and what he wanted to convey to his students.

Philosophy of Philosophy

What role did the philosophy throughout its history, and the role it comes to today? - An answer to this question can only be performed by a historical approach in combination with a review of the current world age according to Dilthey. Dilthey saw the 19th and 20th centuries marked by the coming one to be collected from the positive sciences " sense of reality " to raise awareness of the changeability of social and social structures and a standing in stark contrast to the generality of Sciences ideological and ethical relativism.

In this regard, Dilthey certain programmatic three tasks for a new philosophy:

  • Also, the positive sciences have unexplained conditions that need to examine it and secure it.
  • The philosophy has the task to clarify the relationship of the individual sciences. This can not be done through this myself, because then at most would result in a hierarchical design, which rejected Dilthey.
  • The philosophy must be life philosophy when it rejects the failed metaphysics. Approaches involve Dilthey saw in the work of Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Tolstoy and Schopenhauer. So " as the scholastic thinkers developed the ability to overlook long term time series of conclusions, [ ... ] so formed in them the ability to secret passages in which the soul of happiness pursues [ ... ] to bring to the representation. " However, having these authors always singled out only individual moments and insights and made ​​absolute, which they again "Comrades of metaphysics " made ​​themselves. Your philosophy of life may be correct in their national borders, is quite wrong, as soon as they " hold their angle for the world." Dilthey therefore did not understand his form of life philosophy as one which meets specific statements, but extracted by comparison and historical consideration of varied designs from the Relative which is generally applicable.

So Dilthey did not develop a new philosophical system, but a " philosophy of philosophy." Object of this is to understand the worldviews that have ever done only to the metaphysical systems. For the purposes of Dilthey's use of the term psychology could this program therefore also be understood as " Psychology of metaphysics." It can not more be a matter to deal with metaphysical arguments, but to understand the systems as an expression of ideological default. In this sense, one can say that it is with metaphysical concepts behaves like the artistic style: It is impossible to say whether this is "true" or " false".

From this standpoint, the " Metaphilosophy " is made ​​in retrospect realized that the task of philosophy can not be defined more a its appropriate content, for example as epistemology or ethics. Also, according to their method can not be defined philosophy as these had to depend on the cause. Three out about the history of philosophy by holding properties can nevertheless determine:

Basis of this independent of content and method definition can now be developed by the social function of philosophy metaphysical systems determine. So always shows up first, by examining the metaphysical concepts, the underlying historical worldview. The philosophy that is always trying to classify the totality of knowledge in such a system and, according to this finding, an answer to the question "How should I act? " To deliver. An attempt of the course must fail according to Dilthey, because once the belief is pressed into metaphysical systems, they lose their links to the specific context of life and become independent abstractions lead to irresolvable antinomies. Since philosophy are also accountable for their actions, they tried to raise the system for generality developed by her. However, the reflection of their own action has an inner law, which indeed can not be predicted, but their relationship is revealed in historical retrospect as necessary; as the desire for universality over time will lead to an attempt to justify their own statements; this in turn leads to the question of how knowledge is epistemologically possible, etc.

The " philosophy of philosophy " is now investigating these laws. It considers the various philosophical systems and recognizes that its structure is determined by the social function of philosophy.

Types of belief

In historical consciousness and the philosophical-historical overview of the variety of philosophical designs Dilthey saw the breeding ground for skepticism. This excludes the " anarchy of systems" and their inconsistency with each other, that any objective knowledge is impossible to man. Dilthey now did not attempt to assess the metaphysical systems in detail, but emphasized their common origin in the context of life of the people. Man is always included as a sensual and corporeal being in a concrete world from which he draws his life experiences. " The ultimate root belief is life. " This rootedness in life is central to Dilthey's philosophical doctrine. The " law of philosophical doctrine " is this: " The world views are not products of thinking. They do not arise from the mere will of knowledge.. [ ... ] From the life behavior, the life experience, the structure of our psychic totality they go out " Only from the pursuit of life to let out the metaphysical designs as perspectivizations one and the same thing, namely the life aware that" the pure light of truth is only in different broken beam to behold for us. "

Only when these experiences should be recorded in a purely abstract principles and thus from their origin, the life context, resolve arises metaphysics. Metaphysics is therefore the assumption of an objective, independently existing reality of human life context. Now, if the skepticism of the plurality of philosophical systems concludes that objective knowledge is not possible, so he just stays even in the metaphysical presuppositions biased, which he criticized. He overlooks the fact the specific contexts of life, from which have developed out only the abstract systems.

But the systems can be understood not only by their return to the life context; because they have only one life of its own, so there is within their inner movement of the spirit, the "inner form of thought " which they determined. With respect to this turns out to be the inner necessity of the movement of thought. Dilthey wanted herewith one hand connect to Kant, whose performance he saw was to have shown how much the thinking through categories, concepts and schemas is determined. On the other hand, tied to Dilthey to Fichte, whose merit he situate in the emphasis of the movement of the Spirit. This resulted in Dilthey 's position that although categories and schemas thinking determine this but not as with Kant are inscribed in the timeless subject, but found themselves in the movement of the Spirit. So if trained metaphysical systems, this is done not by fixed laws, though the internal structure of the systems follows certain rules. A " philosophy of philosophy " as they strove Dilthey, will therefore not turn fare back into dogmatic statements, but remains in the bound, what is it happened from the story: " We do not know the Education Act, according to which in the life of the differentiation of metaphysical systems is apparent. If we want to approach the conception of philosophical types, so we must turn to the story. "

In addition to the internal structure of thinking and their way immanent rules Dilthey also made them aware of the mood which accompanies each man in his relation to the world. Only on the basis of this attunement man makes his life experiences, which he gradually tried to organize into a meaningful whole. This sentiment is also reflected in the philosophical systems. Dilthey saw her even one that " keeps alive " the systems much: " [E ] in the system is a kind of living being, an organism, nourished by the lifeblood of a philosopher, viable thereby, fighting with others. " So grab classifications as idealism, materialism, monism, dualism for Dilthey always too short, since they always pick out just one moment of this "living organism ". Only by virtue of this sentiment, the durchklüfteten of logical contradictions systems will ever wear on through the story.

According to this life- philosophical orientation Dilthey saw, for example, the metaphysical designs of modern times than attempt to create a world and life view, as she had trained with Goethe and Schiller, to save in the realm of thought and saving them there: " And now the systems are Schelling, Hegel and Schleiermacher only logically and metaphysically justified the implementation of that trained by Lessing, Schiller and Goethe life and world views. "

So in order to understand the philosophical system designs as an expression of belief and sentiment, Dilthey tried different classifications of the main forms of philosophy to determine, these are:

  • Naturalism: He prefers sensationalism as epistemology, materialism as metaphysics. In its basic mood ( his " heart and soul " ) he is taken from the struggle against religious and spiritualistic metaphysics.
  • Idealism of Freedom: The mood worn as a countermovement to the ( deterministic ) materialism and its denial of the freedom of the spirit and its values ​​, the idealism of freedom forms. Starting from the free person acting in a system which sees the mind as in his laws, regardless of the mechanical nature of the forms. Representatives are, for example, Kant and Schiller.
  • Objective idealism: it is entirely different from the above two, by emphasizing the universal harmony of the universe. The synopsis of the whole shows how this whole thing is their space and meaning only the individual parts. Representatives of this philosophy are Goethe, Hegel and the Stoa.

Dilthey was aware of the preliminary nature of the classification and stresses that he's more concerned about the method how to get to this: The three main types are determined solely by historical comparison. Its historical occurrence can not be predicted paradigmatic, but to determine in retrospect. However, it also needs for such a comparison certain standards. This can not be determined in advance, but arise by intuition from many years of employment with the individual systems. Not a firm arrangement Dilthey was important, but understanding as a process. ( Dilthey later added one more type added that the naturalistic- positivistic world view. )

Each belief formed after Dilthey accordingly the same principles and beliefs is so all to a common structure. Starting point for any worldview is the worldview. This is caused by basic and rudimentary knowledge of man, the world, in his reference to a picture of this. Still though the contexts of this world remain coarse and linked only loosely. Only when man begins, the things known to organize around it and to determine their value based on their usefulness for his pursuit of life, he produced his first large structures of meaning. This then rise by further abstraction to his belief; this will determine which are the highest values ​​and principles, such as good, and as a living and acting Ideal is situated which depends on it. Since this process can drag on for several generations, the belief is a product of history.


Dilthey's philosophical doctrine has Downfall of the Occident found in consistent relativism Oswald Spengler and his work rainfall. Following the example of the types of belief Spengler distinguishes between different forms of life (theoretical, economic, aesthetic, social and religious ) here.

Dilthey's concept of hermeneutics as a theory of understanding and methodology of the human sciences had great influence on all other epistemological discussions in which it came to the distinction between natural and social sciences. As a direct successor of Dilthey apply, inter alia, Hans Lipps, Herman Nohl, Theodor Litt, Eduard Spranger, Georg Misch and Erich Rothacker. Dilthey's philosophy also influenced the religious philosopher Martin Buber.

In Germany, especially Hans -Georg Gadamer has dealt with his work in critical intent. In many ways, but also Theodor W. Adorno, Ernst Cassirer, Emilio Betti, Karl- Otto Apel and Jürgen Habermas have received suggestions from Dilthey. Leo Baeck was founded in 1895 graduated from Dilthey on Spinoza with the theme " Spinoza's first actions on Germany ".

Martin Heidegger in Being and Time takes up Dilthey's central theme of historicity. His work is, according to Heidegger, "from the appropriation of the work of Dilthey grow up". Heidegger cites the philosophical interlocutor Dilthey and longtime pen pal, the Graf von Yorck: " [E ] ine self-reflection, which is not directed to an abstract self, but to the fullness of my Self, will find me historically determines how the physics cosmic me determined recognizes. Just like nature, I 'm history. "Even the concept of mood engages Heidegger. So it is in Being and Time, the prevailing mood of fear, which tears man from the passing life in the inauthenticity and leads him in the face of death, so its finitude to an actual life. Heidegger takes the mood even so serious that only a philosophy from the prevailing mood is possible for him. The later Heidegger will determine the shyness than mood for the event.

An important student out of school to Dilthey was the German - French historian and philosopher Bernard Groethuysen, who worked in the publishing of Diltheyan oeuvre.


On Dilthey's conception of metaphysics can be criticized, that he puts his tacit assumption, metaphysical propositions were without cognitive significance. Also can there be any doubt that in metaphysical systems actually "only" the life context of one of the three ideological types is expressed.

While Stegmüller Dilthey has criticized attempt to distinguish between natural sciences and humanities, he went Hans -Georg Gadamer does not go far enough. So criticizes Gadamer that Dilthey in his formulation of the humanities still much to be strongly oriented toward the natural sciences. Gadamer, however, would have the humanities rather moved to the vicinity of art.

Since all understanding and dealing for Dilthey was basically to bring never completely finished ( the hermeneutic circle does not lead to an end point of complete certainty ), he ran the risk of any objectivity divulge. Because but even if one conceives understanding as Reproduce objective mind, it was but this actually exists only as a subjective manifestation. Edmund Husserl because even against Dilthey's philosophical doctrine reactivated the program an exact science. In his essay " Philosophy as Rigorous Science " of 1911 he tried to establish the concept of belief from the strict science but and a rating based on the phenomenological method timeless science. He emphasized on the one hand the achievements of philosophical doctrine, but limited its scope and application to the education and personality development of the individual, while on the other hand raises the strict science of temporal and individual right to truth. Dilthey himself has alleged that he represented a historical relativism, rejected in a letter to Husserl, in which he also rejects skeptizistische consequences of his philosophy.

The relativistic tendency of the hermeneutic approach Dilthey, however, was still accused. This as " symbols of different sides of vitality ," which Dilthey each statement with a claim to objective validity keeps tying especially regarding his conception of metaphysics -rational structures.