'Hypotheses, everywhere only hypotheses!': on some contexts of Dilthey's critique of explanatory psychology
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 38 (1):43-62 (2007)
In 1894, Wilhelm Dilthey published an article in which he formulated a critique of what he called ‘explanatory psychology’, contrasting it with his own conception of ‘descriptive psychology’. Dilthey’s descriptive psychology, in turn, was to provide the basis for Dilthey’s specific philosophy of the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften). In this paper, I contextualize Dilthey’s critique of explanatory psychology. I show that while this critique comes across as very broad and sweeping, he in fact had specific opponents in mind, namely, scholars who, like him, attempted to theorize about the relationship between the individual and society, between psychology and the other human sciences. Dilthey’s critique of explanatory psychology is the flipside of his critique of sociology, which he had already formulated. He challenged both because he felt that they gave the wrong kind of answer to the task of overcoming metaphysics within the human sciences. In particular, I identify the founders of Völkerpsychologie, Moritz Lazarus and Heymann Steinhal, and (more importantly) their student, Georg Simmel, as Dilthey’s targets. I provide textual and historical evidence for this thesis.
|Keywords||Dilthey history and philosophy of the human sciences explaining and understanding|
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