'Hypotheses, everywhere only hypotheses!': on some contexts of Dilthey's critique of explanatory psychology

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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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2006.12.004
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References found in this work BETA
Martin Kusch, Psychologism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
R. Lanier Anderson (2005). Neo-Kantianism and the Roots of Anti-Psychologism. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 13 (2):287-323.
Wilhelm Windelband (1895). Geschichte und Naturwissenschaft. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 3 (2):3-4.

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Citations of this work BETA
Gary Hatfield (2012). Koffka, Köhler, and the “Crisis” in Psychology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (2):483-492.
Uljana Feest (2012). Husserl's Crisis as a Crisis of Psychology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (2):493-503.

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