Abstract
A subtitle for this paper might have been ‘The ugly face of Verstehen ’, for it asks whether the theory of Verstehen has, to switch metaphors, ‘dirty hands’. By the theory of Verstehen, I mean the constellation of concepts—life, experience, expression, interpretative understanding—which, according to Wilhelm Dilthey, are essential for the study of human affairs, thereby showing that ‘the methodology of the human studies [Geisteswissenschafteri] is … different from that of the physical sciences’ :1 for in the latter, these concepts have no similar place. Even critics of Dilthey tend to agree that his heart, if not his head, was in the right place: that Verstehen was designed as an antidote to ‘dehumanizing’ attempts by positivists to reduce the categories used in explaining human behaviour to just those equally operative in the physical sciences. As Dilthey himself put it, ‘there is no real blood flowing in the veins’ of human beings as examined by the positivists and their precursors: they do not treat of ‘the whole man’. The idea of Verstehen, it seems, is doubly humane: a humanizing approach to the humane studies.
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DOI 10.1017/S1358246100006068
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Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.Alvin I. Goldman - 1979 - Philosophical Review 90 (3):424-429.
The Ethics of Culture.Samuel Fleischacker - 1994 - Cornell University Press.
The Ethics of Culture.David E. Cooper - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (1):233-235.
Only a God Can Save Us.Richard Wolin - 1993 - In Richard Wolin & Martin Heidegger (eds.), The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader. MIT Press.

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