Heidegger and Dilthey: Language, History, and Hermeneutics

In Megan Altman Hans Pedersen (ed.), Horizons of Authenticity in Phenomenology, Existentialism, and Moral Psychology. springer. pp. 109-128 (2014)
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The hermeneutical tradition represented by Yorck, Heidegger, and Gadamer has distrusted Dilthey as suffering from the two sins of modernism: scientific “positivism” and individualistic and aesthetic “romanticism.” On the one hand, Dilthey’s epistemology is deemed scientistic in accepting the priority of the empirical, the ontic, and consequently scientific inquiry into the physical, biological, and human worlds; on the other hand, his personalist ethos and Goethean humanism, and his pluralistic life- and worldview philosophy are considered excessively aesthetic, culturally liberal, relativistic, and subjective. This essay involves two tasks in response to this negative evaluation of Dilthey that has shaped our current understanding of his philosophical project; first, an interpretation of the issues at stake in Heidegger’s reception of and struggles with Dilthey. These issues touch upon language, historicity, and the nature of hermeneutics. Second, by pursuing this task in light of Guignon’s interpretation of Dilthey and Heidegger, I hope to question and challenge the “overcoming” of Dilthey’s epistemic and life-philosophical hermeneutics in the “ontological” or “philosophical” hermeneutics of Heidegger.



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Eric S. Nelson
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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Sources of the self: the making of the modern identity.Charles Taylor - 1989 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.

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