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Wilhelm Dilthey on Forces - Dictionary of Arguments

Gadamer I 230
Forces/History/Dilthey/Gadamer: [For Dilthey] there is no original power of individuality. It is what it is by asserting itself. Limitation by the course of action belongs to the essence of individuality - as to all historical concepts.
Purpose/Dilthey: For Dilthey, even terms like purpose and meaning do not mean ideas in the sense of Platonism or Scholasticism. They are also historical terms, as far as they refer to the limitation by the course of action. They must be terms of energy.
Dilthey refers for this to Fichte(1) who was also of decisive influence on Ranke. In this respect his hermeneutics of life wants to remain on the ground of the historical view of the world(2). Philosophy provides him only with the conceptual possibilities to express the truth of this view. >Lebensphilosophie/Dilthey.
Meanwhile, with these explained delimitations it is not yet decided whether Dilthey's foundation of hermeneutics in "life" has really been able to elude the implicit consequences of idealistic metaphysics(3). For him the question arises as follows: How does
Gadamer I 231
the power of the individual connect to that which is beyond and ahead of it, the objective mind? What is the relationship between force and meaning, between forces and ideas, between the factuality and ideality of life?
This question must ultimately also decide how knowledge of history is possible. Because the human in history is likewise fundamentally determined by the relationship between individuality and objective spirit. Now this relationship is obviously not an unambiguous one. It is firstly the experience of a barrier, pressure and resistance, through which the individual becomes aware of his or her own force. But it is not only the hard walls of reality that the individual experiences. As a historical being, he or she experiences historical realities, and these are always at the same time also something that the individual carries, in which he or she expresses him- or herself and finds him- or herself again. As such they are not "hard walls" but objectivations of life. (Droysen had spoken of "moral forces")


1. Dilthey, Ges. Schriften Vll, 157; 280; 333.
2. VII, 280.
3. F. Bollnow, Dilthey, p. 168f. has seen correctly that the concept of force is too much in the background in Dilthey. In it the victory of romantic hermeneutics over Dilthey's thinking is expressed.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Dilth I
W. Dilthey
Gesammelte Schriften, Bd.1, Einleitung in die Geisteswissenschaften Göttingen 1990

Gadamer I
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik 7. durchgesehene Auflage Tübingen 1960/2010

Gadamer II
H. G. Gadamer
The Relevance of the Beautiful, London 1986
German Edition:
Die Aktualität des Schönen: Kunst als Spiel, Symbol und Fest Stuttgart 1977


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-09-18
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