The Philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey

The Philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey

The Philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey

The Philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey

Excerpt

Wilhelm Dilthey, whose philosophy is the subject of the following pages, was born on November 19th, 1833, at Biebrich am Rhein. The son of a pastor of the Reformed Church, he became successively a student at the University of Berlin, Privat-Dozent there in Philosophy (1865), Professor at Basel (1867), Kiel (1868), and Breslau (1871). In 1882 he was recalled to Berlin to occupy the Chair which Lotze, after a brief tenure of one year, had left vacant, and he remained in Berlin, teaching and writing, until his death on October 1st, 1911.

The literary productions of Dilthey's long life extend into several fields of learning, of which philosophy is only one. They include critical and historical studies of literature and music; studies in educational theory and in the history of educational practice, ancient and modern; researches into the history of religious and political as well as philosophical ideas, especially since the Renaissance and Reformation. It was against this background that his specifically philosophical thinking took place. He is one of those philosophers (like Vico, Hegel, Croce, Collingwood) who draw their inspiration from, and find their problems in, aesthetic and historical studies rather than mathematics and natural science. If we turn to his specifically philosophical writings, extending as they do over a long period from 1864 until his death in 1911, we find that amid all their diversity there is one enduring theme which holds them together. That theme is his determination to write a Critique of Historical Reason.

Dilthey set himself this task at the outset of his career, and for a long time he had to work at it in isolation. The atmosphere of contemporary thought was not propitious. Later, however, largely owing to Dilthey's own efforts and to those of his younger rivals, Windelband and Rickert, the atmosphere changed, and by the beginning of the present century there was . . .

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