- Kritik der endlichen Vernunft: Diltheys Revolution der allgemeinen Wissenschafts- und Handlungstheorie, and: Wilhelm Dilthey's Philosophy of Historical Understanding: A Critical Analysis (review)
- Journal of the History of Philosophy
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 10, Number 2, April 1972
- pp. 232-237
- View Citation
- Additional Information
232 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY What is not supposed to be my concern! First and foremost, the Good Cause, then God's cause, the cause of mankind, of truth, of freedom, of humanity, of justice; further, the cause of my people, my prince, my fatherland; finally, even the cause of Mind, and a thousand other causes. Only my cause is never to be my concern. 'Shame on the egoist who thinks only of himself!' I am Owner of my might, and I am so when I know myself as unique. In the unique one the owner himself returns into his creative nothing, of which he is born. Every higher essence above me, be it God, be it man, weakens the feeling of my uniqueness, and pales only before the sun of this consciousness. If I found my affair on myself, the unique one, then my concern rests on its transitory, mortal creator, who consumes himself, and I may say: I have founded my affair on nothing. To determine if anything more can be said must be left to the judgment of the reader, as this is what Stirner would have wished. LAWRENCE S. STEPELEVICH Villanova University Kritik der endlichen Vernunft: Diltheys Revolution der allgemeinen Wissenscha[tsund Handlungstheorie. By Peter Krausser. (Frankfurt-am-Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1968. Pp. 248) Wilhelm Dilthey's Philosophy of Historical Understanding: A Critical Analysis. By Howard Nelson Turtle. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1969. Pp. 115) I. In his extensive efforts to define the Geisteswissenschaften (human studies), Wilhelm Dilthey frequently compared and contrasted them with the more highly developed Naturwissenschaften (natural sciences). Although he sought to establish a special domain for the Geisteswissenscha[ten, his definition of them is itself in some ways dependent on his conception of the Naturwissenschaften. Indeed, to most commentators Dilthey's theory of the Geisteswissenschaften is compromised by what they believe to be his uncritical acceptance of the natural sciences as he found them in the late nineteenth century. Those who for this reason have in any way criticized his work have tended to adopt one of the three following standpoints. (I) Some see Dilthey's distinction of the Naturwissenschaften and the Geisteswissenschaften as important and fundamental, but take exception to certain details of Dilthey's theory in areas where it was impossible for Dilthey to have anticipated twentieth century developments in the sciences. All that is needed are minor reformulations with reference to an updated conception of the methods of the natural sciences. (2) Others hold the view that Dilthey's distinction is neither important nor fundamental . These are philosophers of science who feel that Dilthey described differences between the natural sciences and the human studies which reflected a mere contingent disparity in the stages of their development. Had Dilthey explored the full potentials of the methodology of the natural sciences, he would have seen his distinction to be unnecessary. (3) Finally, according to a third group, Dilthey's distinction between the Geisteswissenscha [ten and the Naturwissenscha[ten constitutes an important step towards an understanding of man and his history, but it does not go far enough in establishing the fundamental priority of the Geisteswissenschaften. Thus certain phenomenologists like Husserl criticize Dilthey for retaining naturalistic standards of objectivity and for bypassing the opportunity to challenge the status of the Naturwissenschaften from the BOOK REVIEWS 233 perspective of a Geisteswissenscha[t. Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer have gone even further to also question the ideal of methodological rigor implicit in any Wissenschaft. They ultimately replace Dilthey's theory of the Geisteswissenschaften with a more radical hermeneutical study of man. Tuttle's book is a rather sympathetic study of Dilthey which can be said to represent position (I). It is directed against exponents of the second position, namely, those who, like Nagel and Hempel, think Dilthey's theory of historical understanding must be superseded by "covering law" theories of historical explanation. Accepting Dilthey's maxim that the Geisteswissenschaften possess an advantage over the Naturwissenschaften in their ability to directly utilize inner experience, Tuttle proceeds to defend the thesis that the understanding of a historical event involves an awareness of its intrinsic meaning and that this can occur without subsuming it to any laws. Unfortunately...