Dilthey‘s distinction between Natural Sciences and Human Sciences

At the end of the 19. century the german philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey triggered a debate about the basic epistemological distinction between Natural Sciences and Human Sciences. This is, until today, a debate about methods. On the one hand, Dilthey hypothesises that the Natural Sciences like Physics or Chemistry explain processes in the nature. On the other hand, he argues that the Human Sciences like History or Philology seek to understand phenomena in the history or different cultures. Dilthey works out his explanation-understanding distinction in his „Ideas for a Descriptive and Analytic Psychology“ of 1894 (see Rudolf Makkreel‘s Article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dilthey/). Makkreel cites Dilthey‘s „Ideas“ as follows:  “We explain through purely intellectual processes, but we understand through the cooperation of all the powers of the mind activated by apprehension.”

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