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March 05, 2006

Experience, Expression, & Understanding

In later hermeneutic writings Dilthey develops his famous triad of inner experience (Erlebnis), expression (Ausdruck), and understanding (Verstehen), now admitting that the range of introspection is very restricted and that understanding of ourselves and others mainly occurs via the understanding of the expressions of inner experience. Using concepts from Husserl's Logische Untersuchungen, but sticking to his own historical approach, Dilthey elaborates, in Der Aufbau der geschichtlichen Welt in den Geisteswissenschaften and, from the legacy, Entw├╝rfe zur Kritik der historischen Vernunft, an elucidating and differentiated, though fragmented, analysis of the synchronic and diachronic structure of inner experience, of the different types of expressions, and of the different forms of understanding.
For Dilthey, understanding aims not only at a reconstruction of the inner experience and intentions of persons, but, also, at the independent meaning of the expressions. Although he maintains that the interpretative human sciences aim at objectivity, he sharply distinguishes this objectivity from that which is aimed at in the natural sciences: in the human sciences, objectivity may not be identified with general validity. In interpretation, because the specific individual horizon of the interpreter is constitutive [for that interpretation], the term objectivity refers to the inter-subjective accessibility of the object of interpretation. Jos de Mul spring 2000

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