Hermeneutics and the Study of History

By Wilhelm Dilthey; Rudolf A. Makkreel et al. | Go to book overview

PREFACE TO ALL VOLUMES

This six-volume translation of the main writings of Wilhelm Dilthey (1833–1911) is intended to meet a longstanding need. It makes available to English readers translations of complete texts representing the full range of Dilthey's philosophy. The multivolume edition will thereby provide a wider basis for research not only in the history and theory of the human sciences but also in Dilthey's philosophical understanding of history, life, and world-views. His principal writings on psychology, aesthetics, ethics, and pedagogy are also included, together with some historical essays and literary criticism.

Whereas the Spanish-speaking world, which assimilated Dilthey early and intensively under the influence of Ortega y Gasset, has had an eight-volume translation since 1944–45, the English-speaking world has approached Dilthey more hesitantly. The efforts made by H. A. Hodges to aquaint the British public with Dilthey met with only limited success. H. P. Rickman has translated parts of Dilthey's writings, and his introductions have sought to dispel the distrust of Continental Philosophy, which characterized the early phases of the Analytical Movement. While a few individual works have also been translated, a systematically collected edition will provide a more consistent rendering of important terms and concepts.

An increasing interest in continental thought (Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, hermeneutics, structuralism, and critical theory) has created a climate in which the still not adequately recognized philosophy of Dilthey can be appropriated. As phenomenological and hermeneutical theories are being applied to more complex and problematic questions, it is becoming more evident that the nineteenth-century roots of these philosophical theories must be reexamined. This is especially the case with problems surrounding the theory of the Geisteswissenschaften. As given its classical formulation by Dilthey, this theory has been entitled in English as that of the “human studies” in order to differentiate it from the positivistic ideal of a “unified science. ” Currently, the more forthright title, “human sciences, ” has been adopted—but at the risk of becoming submerged in a universal hermeneutics and post-Kuhnian philosophy of science. Given this new situation, the difference between the natural sciences and the human sciences will need to be reconsidered. If interpretation and the circularity associated with it are in

-vii-

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