|Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911)|
Introduction (Stephen Cowley)
“The same [way] as the idea of a fine art does not owe its birth or discovery to artistic criticism, but is quite simply presupposed, so in philosophical criticism, the idea of philosophy is itself the condition and presupposition without which the latter would only until the end of time have subjectivities to oppose to subjectivities, and not the absolute to the conditioned.”
“the deep impression produced by Dilthey’s famous memoir and the publication by H Nohl of Hegel’s Early Theological Writings. At last we had the pre-history of Hegelian thought; at last one could grasp it in statu nascendi and not in that discouragingly complete state in which it was presented until then. It was besides a quite new, pretty unexpected Hegel that the Early Writings showed us. Hegelian exegesis was completely turned upside down.” (149)
“More exactly: the fact of putting the stress on the youthful work already implies, ipso facto, a disesteem for and neglect of the Logic, which also means: neglect and disesteem of Hegel the philosopher, and even of philosophy as such. [This is an] effect of the substitution – the merit and crime of the Diltheyan school – of the “history of ideas” for that of philosophy; of the absorption of philosophy by literature.” (151)
“the Diltheyans have been only the most subtle and brilliant of those who have given themselves to this sort of subversion of the proper values of philosophy and thought. As if a “work” worthy of the name could be explained by the man.” (151n)
- The Rationale of Philosophical Biography
- The Reception of "The History of Hegel's Youth"
- World Views and Religion
- Leibniz and Hegel in the Typology of World Views
- Hegel, Mystical Pantheism and the Logicisation of History
- The Sense of the Concrete and individuality
- The German Spirit
- A History of Philosophies at the Limits of Philosophy
Jean-Christophe Merle on Dilthey’s Hegel Scholarship
The Rationale of Philosophical Biography
“[A] universal history of philosophy developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, beginning from the works of the humanist era. [At this time,] the history of the different philosophical disciplines and  sciences that Aristotle and his school founded and the presentation of opinions were drawn entirely from works written  for the sake of presentations of the life and doctrines of the different philosophers, of the system[s] taught by the different schools and the relation of such biographies to a whole.” (10)
“The history of the development of the great philosophers, undertaken with the means of philological criticism, has become everywhere the support of philosophical thought as a whole. Thus, the original limitation of the history of philosophy is progressively abandoned; the history of philosophy ceases to be only the history of the great philosophers.” (10-11)
“develops under the influence of metaphysics and, more broadly, under that of metaphysical science. Thus, the great transformations that survive in the feeling of life that men have are represented in the transformations of philosophy. The history of philosophy makes visible the successive positions of the psychic life of men. It gives the possibility of knowing the historical situation of the different phenomena of literature, theology and the sciences.” (12)
The Reception of “The History of Hegel’s Youth”
- Wilhelm Dilthey – Das Hegel-Buch Kuno Fischers
- Gisela Schüler – “Zur Chronologie von Hegels Jugendschriften” in Hegel-Studien, 1963.
- Hermann Nohl - Hegels Theologische Jugendschriften. 1907 and “Vorwort” to Dilthey’s Werke IV.
“If the reader, in Rosenkranz or Haym, falls on something more substantial [that he] has not used, the reason lies partly in the fact that this something does not belong to the stages of Hegel’s development presented, and partly simply in the fact that the means to integrate such fragments of which the manuscript is missing in a trustworthy manner, are absent.” (14)
“Since Dilthey sketches in it the lines that lead to the later system, the significance of this thesis goes beyond the young Hegel to take up a position on Hegel’s philosophy as a whole. By the importance given to the exposition of the philosophical context in which Hegel’s development took place, the History of Hegel’s Youth constitutes the establishment of a position on the whole of German idealism and on the Enlightenment that preceded it.” (14)
World Views and Religion
“philosophical systems are born from culture as a whole and have exercised an influence back on this whole. Hegel knew this too, but it is now a matter of getting to know this causal[ly related] whole in which this process is carried out through its different constituents. Hegel was not yet focussed on this task; and his resolve, the transposition of philosophical thinkers into the living whole to which they belonged, straight away makes necessary a literary treatment that explores the causal whole formed by this process, starting from the knowledge we can acquire of its contributors, its adversaries and the persons influenced by it.” (18)
- Making (poiesis) corresponds to art;
- Practice (praxis) corresponds to religion;
- Theory (theoria) corresponds to philosophy.
“By “religion”, taken as a word of indefinite extension, we understand a field of representations, feelings and acts of the will of which we conceive the range and the limits diversely. But all the concepts that we make of it carry in them the distinctive mark that any consciousness whatever of the whole of relations [Zusammenhang] that unites all things has some practical human response as a consequence.” (19)
“philosophical systems, quite as much as religions or works of art, contain a point of view on life and the world, which is not founded in conceptual thought, but in the life of the persons who produce it. [...] “every system contains indemonstrable presuppositions.” (20)
Leibniz and Hegel in the Typology of World Views
- the idealism of freedom
- objective idealism.
“All the phenomena of the universe present two sides. Seen from one of these sides, in external perception, these phenomena are given as sensible objects and placed, as such, in physical connection; but, on the contrary, grasped inwardly, they carry in them a living whole of which one can only have the lived experience in the whole that our own inwardness forms.” (21, GS VIII, 117)
|Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) by Christophe Francke|
Dilthey did not write much about Kant. This task had been given to others (See the Archiv article cited and G Misch & H Nohl, “Handwritten material for the history of post-Kantian philosophy in German libraries” in Kant-Studien, 1912.) There are other reasons though. Leibniz had united a pantheist sense of harmony that came from the Renaissance with a sense of inwardness and individual freedom that came from the Reformation and modern science. Dilthey himself complemented this by introducing a historical dimension into objective idealism. Merle comments on this:
“Now it is this historical dimension that is missing in Kant, according to Dilthey, who rejects the Kantian idea of a universal history, as elsewhere all attempts at a universal history, for these think history wrongly, beginning from a single universal principle which everything must obey. If Dilthey belongs to a movement, that one can observe even among the neo-Kantians, of a regain of interest in Hegel at the expense of Kant, one cannot thus enrol him in the ranks of neo-Hegelianism, as does Lukács. Certainly, Dilthey would agree with Wilhelm Windelband in diagnosing in the revival of interest in Hegel at the expense of Kant that was being drafted at the time, the refusal to limit philosophy to a particular science, such as the epistemology of the natural sciences, the thirst for visions of the world and for a historical synthesis of the whole. But Dilthey cannot accept the logicisation of history accomplished by Hegel in his maturity.” (23)
Hegel, Mystical Pantheism and the Logicisation of History
“If pantheism is thus a step in the development of the young Hegel, and if this same pantheism also constituted in previous centuries a step in the development of objective idealism, on the other hand it appears clearly that it is not by this influence, for all that transitory, of pantheism on Hegel, that the latter represents an important step in the development of objective idealism, according to Dilthey.” (23-24)
“Is reason or will the cause of the world? If we take it to be thought, there is still need of a will that it should be born. If we conceive it as a will, it presupposes a thought that determines an end. But we cannot reduce the will and thought one to the other. Here logical thought relative to the foundation of the world comes to an end and there only remains the reflection of life through this logical thought through mysticism. [...] We cannot think the way plurality can come from the unity of the world, nor what is changing from what is eternal: it is inconceivable from a logical point of view. The relation between being and thought and between extension and thought does not become more intelligible by use of the magical term identity. There remains of these metaphysical systems only a mental constitution and a vision of the world (Weltanschauung).” (24)
“The later subjection of the development of this objective spirit, or “totality of the consciousness of the community” to logical relations between concepts, constitutes for Dilthey a fatal error, that he relates back over and over again to the influence exercised on Hegel by the philosophical movement of his time, and more precisely to the Schellingian method that consists of deducing everything from an absolute Self.” (25)
“On its side, transcendental philosophy constituted a progress in providing Hegel with the idea of a development of these wholes. The error comes, according to Dilthey, in his later works, from treating history as a simple relation between concepts, as a product of the understanding, while the wholes, the communities which act in history and which it is a question of studying, are not products of the understanding, but the product of visions of the world.” (25-26)
“Thus one knows the history [of the origin of Christian piety] as a development in which values act as causes. The understanding of these values rests on the fact that one follows the different forms under which this progression takes place. It is in these forms that resides, so to say, the technique of the dialectical development. Since it is in the free exposition of this development that the heart of the historical contribution lies in this period, we have presented his work in an exhaustive manner.” (26-27)
The Sense of the Concrete and Individuality
“each metaphysical genius expresses in concepts a side of reality that had not yet been noticed and that reveals itself to him in the metaphysical experience. From the biographical point of view, this latter consists in a sequence of processes of lived experience, which take on however a philosophical character when one apprehends in them a universal state of affairs.” (27)
The German Spirit
A History of Philosophies at the Limits of Philosophy
“It certainly takes into account the influence on the philosopher under consideration of the philosophical movements of his time, but it equally considers his character, and above all his goal is to reveal the vision of the world of this philosopher. Now if we can easily agree that a philosopher’s starting point, the origin of his philosophy, lies in his lived experience and in the vision of the world that this gives rise to, what constitutes philosophical activity properly speaking assuredly does not lie there, but in the task of reflection on those visions of the world, as well as on the argumentation that constitutes dialogue between the philosophical positions arising from the different visions of the world.” (34)
Paul Asveld. La Pensée religieuse du jeune Hegel [The religious thought of the young Hegel] (1953).
Adrien Peperzak. Le jeune Hegel et la vision religieuse du monde [The young Hegel and the religious vision of the world] (1960).
Rudolf Makkreel. Dilthey: Philosopher of the Human Studies (1975).
Sylvie Mesure. Dilthey et la Fondation des sciences historiques [Dilthey and the Foundation of the Historical Sciences] (1990).