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Dilthey and Philosophy as Science, Worldview, and Self-Reflection

Philosopher's Steps
Thursday, June 2, 2022, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The Philosophy Department of the Central European University, the Institute Vienna Circle and the Unit for Applied Philosophy of Science and Epistemology (of the Department of Philosophy of the University of Vienna) are jointly organizing a series of talks this term.

Online Platform: The meeting will be online via Zoom | Talks in Philosophy of Science and Epistemology PSE


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Wilhelm Dilthey has been erroneously portrayed as rejecting the idea of philosophy as a rigorous science for the sake of promoting a philosophy of affectively and expressively formed worldviews. I reconsider in this paper how Dilthey advocated within limits and critiqued the overextension of both definitions of philosophy in proposing a third moment that encompasses science and worldview. First, Dilthey contended that the idea of philosophy as a rigorous systematic science has a reflective orientational validity that any given system of philosophy aspires to while inevitably failing to achieve. Pure systematic knowledge is the goal of scientific discourses guiding and legitimating the criticism of its finite incomplete historical forms. Second, philosophy is born from and in turn informs the feeling of life (Lebensgefühl) expressed in life- and worldviews. A bare feeling of life, an elemental mood, and an unreflective worldview are expressed in a variety of historical formations but are not yet philosophical as such. The opinions of individuals and the common beliefs of peoples are expressions that only begin to take on philosophical form through life’s critical self-reflection (Selbstbesinnung). Implicit self-reflexive relations and understandings are made explicit and transformed through self-reflection and interpretation. Third, it is in life’s critical self-reflection that philosophy arose in its historical figures and through which philosophy can be renewed. Dilthey accordingly proposed interpreting the ideas of philosophy as science and worldview through this third modality that analyzes the reflexive and reflective contexts, conditions, and limits of science, worldview, and self-reflective life itself.