Living out of the past: Dilthey and Heidegger on life and history

Inquiry 46 (3):301 – 323 (2003)
Abstract
This essay examines continuities and transformations in Heidegger's appropriation of Dilthey's account of life and the accompanying picture of history between the end of World War One and Being and Time . The essay also judges the cogency of two conclusions that Heidegger draws in that book about history, viz, that historicity qua feature of Dasein's being both underlies objective history and makes the scholarly narration of history possible. Part one describes Dilthey's account of life, Heidegger's criticism that this account objectifies life, and Heidegger's appropriation of those aspects of Dilthey's account - temporality, movement, and wholes - that do not result from objectification. Part two focuses on how Heidegger reworks the idea that life is movement by reconceptualizing movement as a happening (and not a stream) and by replacing Dilthey's lived experiences with actions. Part three examines how Heidegger takes over from Dilthey the idea that something is historical if and only if the past is part of its present, also attending to the type(s) of past that these thinkers consider to be part of life. A final section judges the cogency of the two aforementioned theses, defending the claim that the historicity of life is the condition of the objective nexus of actions and events called history and criticizing the thesis that the historicity of a historian's life makes the writing of history possible.
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