Dilthey is a figure of real importance in European philosophy and social theory. He exerted a significant influence on Husserl, Heidegger and Weber through his work on the nature of philosophy and the methodology and epistemology of human and social studies. He was also a distinguished and original historian of ideas and, indeed, many of his philosophical interests arose from the insights and practical difficulties he encountered as a historian. He produced a monumental biography of Schleiermacher, and a series of (...) shorter, but no less striking studies of Hegel, Dickens, Shakespeare, Schiller and many others. (shrink)
The history of philosophy provides part of the history, or pre-history, of the social sciences. As they were struggling into being, or even before they existed, philosophy was hammering out some of the conceptual tools, lines of approach and basic hypotheses. One of the constantly recurring themes in the history of philosophy which has a direct bearing on the social sciences is the relationship between mind and matter.
A methodology of the human studies needs to settle the conflict between the two long-established truth-seeking approaches. To be scientific, like physics, promises system, precision, and practical applicability but ignores the significant peculiarity of the subject matter: People talk. Hermeneutics, the methodology of interpretation, confronts the difficulties of understanding what people mean, but is suspected of lacking rigor. However, the two approaches are not exclusive alternatives. Sharing common procedures, such as classification and deduction, they also supplement each other: Interpretation depends (...) on factual evidence and scientific objectivity depends on reliable communication. Successful research needs to combine scientific study of facts with methodical interpretation of meaning. (shrink)
Philosophic anthropology, Pursuing philosophy's traditional search for reflective self-Knowledge seeks to crystallize the ideas of man underpinning empirical research and moral ideals. Neither the claim that pure speculation can produce factual knowledge nor the contention that a higher synthesis of empirical findings can become philosophy is acceptable. Philosophic anthropology is, Therefore, Most usefully conceived as a critique which traces the necessary presuppositions of the study of man in its various forms of the more rules we apply.