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Kierkegaard's Influence on

Philosophy
Tome 1: German and Scandinavian Philosophy
Edited by
JON STEWART
ASH GATE
Jon Stewart and the contributors 2012
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Kierkegaard's influence on philosophy, Tome I: German and
Scandinavian philosophy.
Tome I. - (Kierkegaard research ; v. II)
1. Kierkegaard, S0ren, 1813-1855 -Influence.
2. Philosophy, German- 19th century. 3. Philosophy-
Scandinavia - History'- 19th century.
I. Series II. Stewart, Jon (Jon Bartley)
198.9-dc23
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Kierkegaard's influence on philosophy, Tome I: German and Scandinavian philosophy I
edited by Jon Stewart.
p. em. - (Kierkegaard research ; v. II, t. 1)
Includes indexes.
ISBN 978-1-4094-4285-1 (hardcover: alk. paper) 1. Kierkegaard, Smen,
1813-1855-Influence. 2. Philosophers--Germany. 3.
Philosophers-Scandinavia. 4. Philosophy-Germany. 5.
Philosophy-Scandinavia. I. Stewart, Jon (Jon Bartley)
B4377.K5126 2011
198'.9--dc23
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List of Contributors
Preface
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Contents
PART I GERMAN PHILOSOPHY
Theodor W. Adorno:
Tracing the Trajectory ofKierkegaard's Unintended Triumphs and Defeats
vii
ix
xiii
XV
Peter Sajda 3
Walter Benjamin:
Appropriating the Kierkegaardian Aesthetic
Joseph Westfall 49
Ernst Bloch:
The Thinker of Utopia's Reading ofKierkegaard
Alina Vaisfeld
Wilhelm Dilthey:
Kierkegaard's Influence on Dilthey's Work
Elisabetta Basso
Ferdinand Ebner:
Ebner's Neuer Mann
Dustin Feddon and Patricia Stanley
Hans-Georg Gadamer:
Kierkegaardian Traits in Gadamer's Philosophical Hermeneutics
Luiz Rohden
Edmund Husserl:
Naturalism, Subjectivity, Eternity
Jamie Turnbull
67
85
105
123
147
vi Kierkegaard's lrifluence on Philosophy
Karl Lowith:
In Search of a Singular Man
Noreen Khawaja
Michael Theunissen:
Fortune and Misfortune of Temporality
Stefan Egenberger
Ludwig Wittgenstein:
Kierkegaard's Influence on the Origin of Analytic Philosophy
Thomas Miles
PART II SCANDINAVIAN PHILOSOPHY
Hans Bmchner:
Professor of Philosophy, Antagonist-and a Loving and Admiring Relative
163
187
209
Carl Henrik Koch 245
Harald Helffding:
The Respectful Critic
Carl Henrik Koch 267
Peter Wessel Zapffe:
Kierkegaard as a Forerunner of Pessimistic Existentialism
Roe Fremstedal 289
Index of Persons 303
Index of Subjects 309
Wilhelm Dilthey
Kierkegaard's Influence on Dilthey's Work
Elisabetta Basso
Appraising something like an "influence" of Kierkegaard in Wilhelm Dilthey's
(1833-1911) work appears to be a quite difficult task since one can actually find
only a single reference to the Danish philosopher in Dilthey's complete works.
Moreover, this reference does not concern especially Kierkegaard's works or
concepts. The context where it appears is the academic lectures that Dilthey
gave at the University of Berlin in the last years of the nineteenth century on the
"general history of philosophy," a history of which he outlined the "biographic and
literary plan."
1
The Danish philosopher is mentioned right after Friedrich Nietzsche
(1844-1900), at the end of a paragraph on the German philosophy of "the second
stage of the 19th century."
2
He appears together with Lev Tolstoy (1828-1910) and
Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) as an example, outside Germany, of an increasing
philosophical trend turned against systematic thinking and "aiming at understanding
and assessing life from the standpoint of life itself. "
3
At the time of these lectures, several of Kierkegaard's works were already
translated into German,
4
and it is more than likely that Dilthey knew them. In any
event, it is indisputable that he was aware of the increasing attention that Kierkegaard
was receiving in Germany at the tum of the century. One should mention, in this
respect, the "Annual Report on the Post-Kantian Philosophy" presented respectively
by Dilthey himself and Alfred Heubaum in 1899 in the journal that Dilthey, at that
time, edited together with Ludwig Stein (1859-1930)--the Archiv for Geschichte
der Philosophie-where Heubaum reviewed the recent German translations of
Wilhelm Dilthey, "Biographisch-literarischer Grundriss der allgemeinen Geschichte
der Philosophie," in his Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie: Vorlesungen 1900-1905, in
Gesammelte Schriften, vols. 1-26, ed. by Karlfried Griinder (vols. 1-15) Karlfried Griinder
and FrithjofRodi (vols. 18-26), Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1970-2006, vol. 23, ed.
by Gabriele Gebhardt and Hans-Ulrich Lessing, p. 157: "Biographisch-literarischer Grundriss
des allgemeinen Geschichte der Philosophie."
2
Ibid. The translations from Dilthey's works are mine, unless otherwise noted.
Ibid.
See section II of the bibliography in this article: "Sources of Dilthey's Knowledge
ofKierkegaard." See also Heiko Schulz, "Germany and Austria. A Modest Head Start: The
German Reception of Kierkegaard," in Kierkegaard's International Reception, Tome I,
Northern and Western Europe, ed. by Jon Stewart, Aldershot: Ashgate 2009 (Kierkegaard
Research: Sources, Reception and Resources, vol. 8), pp. 307-87.
86 Elisabetta Basso
Kierkegaard's Attack upon "Christendom" (1896), and Harald Heffding's (1843-
1931) S0ren Kierkegaard as Philosopher (1896),
5
a work which is also mentioned
in a letter sent by the Count Paul Yorck von Wartenburg (1835-1897) to Dilthey
on October 1897, and where the Danish philosopher is described as "manifestly
a profound thinker."
6
At the time Hoffding's book was frequently reviewed, and
it played an important part in disseminating Kierkegaard's thought in Germany
at the tum of the nineteenth century. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the
bibliographical preface written by Christoph Schrempf for the German edition of
Heffding's work, in order to have an idea of the increasing presence ofKierkegaard
in the German philosophical scene at that time.
7
One is reminded also of the long
article that Heffding had already written in 1889 in the same Archiv for Geschichte
der Philosophie, which presented Kierkegaard as one the most influential Danish
Alfred Heubaum, [Review of Saren Kierkegaard, Angriff auf die Christenheit:
Schriflen undAussiitze 1851-1855, vols. 1-2, trans. by Albert Domer and Christoph Schrempf,
Stuttgart: Frommann 1896; Harald Haffding, Seren Kierkegaard als Philosoph, trans. by
Albert Domer and Christoph Schrempf, Stuttgart: Fromrnann 1896], "Jahresbericht tiber die
nachkantische Philosophie," Part IV, "Schriften tiber Schleiermacher, Herbart, Grillparzer,
Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard und Nietzsche," Archiv for Geschichte der Philosophie, vol. 12,
1899, pp. 358-60. Habib C. Malik (in his Receiving Seren Kierkegaard: The Early Impact
and Transmission of His Thought, Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press
1997) wrongly attributes these reviews to Dilthey (pp. 326--7. See alsop. 394). So also does
Heiko Schulz in his article on Kierkegaard's reception in Germany: "Germany and Austria.
A Modest Head Start: The German Reception ofKierkegaard," p. 320; p. 333. In addition to
Kierkegaard, Heubam also reviewed some "writings on Schleiermacher, Herbart, Grillparzer,
Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche" (Archiv for Geschichte der Philosophie, vol. 12, 1899, pp.
338-75). Dilthey's report, for its part-in this same issue of the Archiv for Geschichte
der Philosophie-----f;oncemed some "Schriften tiber Schelling, K.E. von Baer, Strauss und
Vischer," pp. 325-38.
6
Paul Yorck von Wartenburg, "Brief an Dilthey, 12.1 0.1896," in Briefwechsel Wilhelm
Dilthey und GrafPaul Yorck von Wartenburg, 1877-1897, ed. by Erich Rothacker, Halle: Max
Niemeyer 1923, p. 224.
7
Christoph Schrempf, "Vorwort," in Harald Haffding, Soren Kierkegaard als
Philosoph, trans. by Albert Domer and Christoph Schrempf, Stuttgart: Frommann 1896, pp.
III-X. Also, the theologian Ernst Troeltsch wrote a review ofHaffding's book in 1896, where
he remarked precisely the increase every year in the attention that Kierkegaard was receiving
in Germany at that time: see "Religionsphilosophie und theologische Principienlehre," 3:
"Historisch-Kritisches," a) "Philosophen," Theologischer Jahresbericht, vol. 16, 1896, pp.
539-40. Interestingly enough, in an essay from 1913 on "Logos und Mythos in Theologie
und Religionsphilosophie," Troeltsch mentions Kierkegaard in the same way as Dilthey did
it, namely, together with Tolstoy and Maeterlinck: see Ernst Troeltsch, Gesammelte Schriflen,
vols. 1-4, Ttibingen: J.C.B. Mohr 1913-25, vol. 2: Zur religiOsen Lage, Religionsphilosophie
und Ethik, pp. 805-36. (Originally published in Logos, vol. 4, no. I, pp. 8-35). For a
complete account of Kierkegaard's reception in the German world, see Malik, Receiving
Seren Kierkegaard, chapter 8: "The Beginning of Serious Reception in the German-Speaking
World," pp. 339-92.
Wilhelm Dilthey: Kierkegaard s Influence on Dilthey s Work
87
philosophers of the nineteenth century, one who had struggled against speculative
philosophy and underscored individual existence.
8
Many interpreters agree in emphasizing the role played by H0ffding in the
German reception of Kierkegaard. One commentator goes so far as to maintain
that many in Germany who had their first acquaintance with Kierkegaard via
H0ffding were infected by the misconception entailed by the latter's study of 1892
on Kierkegaard "as philosopher," one that equated Kierkegaard's subjectivity with
subjectivism.
9
In his review in Dilthey's Archiv for Geschichte der Philosophie,
Heubaum actually maintained that Heffding had "given the correct appraisal of the
remarkable thinker" who was Kierkegaard, in that he had systematized his thought,
whereas "Kierkegaard is so little a systematic philosopher, as Nietzsche has been."
10
Now, the quick reference to both Nietzsche and Kierkegaard made by Dilthey in
his academic lectures at the end of the nineteenth century appears to correspond to
such an appraisal, and this could lead us to conclude that the German philosopher
was acquainted with the debate raised by Heffding's work. Nevertheless, Dilthey
would never mention Kierkegaard again in his works, and therefore it is impossible
to reach a final answer about the real weight of the Danish philosopher in his
thought. Even though one could be tempted to compare the two authors with regard
to some points they seem to share-like, for instance, the problem about how to
reconcile the singularity of the individual experience with the universality of the
philosophical categories, or the criticism of Hegel's system-yet it is impossible to
know exactly which of Kierkegaard 's works Dilthey really knew.
11
That is why it
would be certainly hazardous to talk of a direct and explicit influence ofKierkegaard
in Dilthey's thought.
In any event, one should remark that the names of the two philosophers very
often appear together in the works of some of the most influential philosophers of the
twentieth century-like, for instance, Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) or Karl Jaspers
(1883-1969}-and it would be certainly worth questioning the meaning of such a
double reference or even coupling.
12
What is more, the present-day historiography
Harald Haffding, "Die Philosophie in Diinemark im 19. Jahrhundert," Archiv fiir
Geschichte der Philosophie, vol. 2, 1889, pp. 49-74, see pp. 64ff.
9
Malik, in his Receiving Seren Kierkegaard, p. 331.
10
Heubaum, [Review of Harald Haffding, Seren Kierkegaard als Philosoph], p. 359.
11
The same goes for the question about which works on Kierkegaard that Dilthey really
knew. That is why in section II of the bibliography of this article ("Sources of Dilthey's
Knowledge ofKierkegaard"), in addition to Kierkegaard's translated works in German, we just
confine ourselves to the works somehow related to Haffding's works, since Haffding is present
in the journal edited by Dilthey and Stein, the Archiv fiir die Geschichte der Philosophie. For
a complete bibliographical account of the secondary literature on Kierkegaard in the German-
speaking countries at the time of Dilthey, see Schulz, "Germany and Austria: A Modest Head
Start," pp. 3 9 ~ 1 9 See also Heiko Schulz, "Die theologische Rezeption Kierkegaards in
Deutschland und D!i.nemark. Notizen zu einer historisches Typologie," Kierkegaard Studies
Yearbook, 1999, pp. 220-44; and Helen Mustard, "S6ren Kierkegaard in German Literary
Periodicals, 1860-1930," The German Review, vol. 26, 1951, pp. 83-101.
12
Schulz, in his study on the reception ofKierkegaard in Germany, draws an interesting
distinction between "productive reception" and "receptive production" ( cf. "Germany and
88 Elisabetta Basso
of philosophy often considers both Kierkegaard and Dilthey as two of the most
meaningful representatives-on the threshold of the contemporary age-of a
philosophical commitment to the fullness of concrete being and its history against the
conceptual schemes of idealistic reason.
13
This is probably a reductive interpretation,
which does not consider in its entirety the complexity of Dilthey's philosophical
project. Some interpreters do not agree indeed with this historiographical scheme
and believe that it is wrong to consider Dilthey a Lebensphilosoph. Interestingly
enough, Alfredo Marini-in his Aile origini della .filoso.fia contemporanea-
maintains that Dilthey's philosophical project cannot be equated either with "an
existentialist philosophy of interiority like that of Kierkegaard, or with Nietzsche's
'Entlarvungspsychologie,' " since Dilthey's aim is rather to "found experience
scientifically."
14
According to Marini:
Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Stimer are isolated men who lead a dramatic life. From the
point of view of science, the "way of the inner experience" is pathological. Whoever
privileges it-although within the scientific or philosophical field-assumes a
connotation of abnormality or eccentricity. Dilthey, for his part, is certainly not a
victim of"temperament" .... He is not urged by a strong existential "vocation": he is an
academic, a scientist, he has a critical and scientific education.''
Marini continues as follows: "Inner experience-for Dilthey-should not pretend to
found a great metaphysics, a great world-view like those one can find in Nietzsche
or Kierkegaard. Dilthey is a philosopher who comes from a rationalist tradition;
he is close to Kant's Criticism, and Positivism, and he conceives philosophy as a
science."
16
In any event, before supporting the one interpretation or the other, it is worth
drawing the main biographical and theoretical outline of Dilthey's philosophical
project. After he studied theology at the University of Heidelberg until 1856, Dilthey
moved to the University of Berlin, where he came into contact with Friedrich Adolf
Trendelenburg (1802-72)
17
andAugustBockh (1785-1867), two students ofFriedrich
Schleiermacher (1768-1834 ), who involved him in the edition of Schleiermacher's
Austria: A Modest Head Start," p. 309). In our case, we could say that such a way of "using"
both Dilthey and Kierkegaard together falls within the category of a "receptive production."
13
Just consider, for instance, Wolfram Hoegrebe's history of German philosophy of the
nineteenth century, which gathers together Schelling, Schleiermacher, Schopenhauer, Stimer,
Kierkegaard, Engels, Marx, Dilthey, and Nietzsche under the common denominator of critics
of idealistic reason: Wolfram Hoegrebe, Deutsche Phi/osophie im XIX Jahrhundert. Kritik
der idealistische Vernunft: Schelling, Schleiermacher, Schopenhauer, Stirner, Kierkegaard.
Engels, Marx, Dilthey, and Nietzsche, Munich: Fink 1987.
14
Alfredo Marini, Aile origini della filosofia contemporanea: Wilhelm Dilthey.
Antinomie dell'esperienza, fondazione temporale del mondo umano, epistemologia della
connessione, Florence: La Nuova Italia 1984, p. 214.
15
Ibid., p. 213.
16
Ibid., p. 214.
17
According to Michael Ermarth, "Dilthey was but one of a distinguished group of
thinkers, including Kierkegaard, Franz Brentano, Gustav Teichmiiller, and Otto Wilmann,
who credited Trendelenburg with 'the greatest influence' over their thought." Ermarth,
Wilhelm Dilthey: Kierkegaard :S Influence on Dilthey s Work 89
letters. Between the publication of Aus Schleiermachers Leben in Briefen in 1861
18
(the second part of which would be published two years later) and the biography
(1867-70),
19
Schleiermacher became the focus of Dilthey's interests. He also
wrote his dissertation on Schleiermacher's ethics in 1864 (De principiis ethices
Schleiermacheri). This encounter with the German theologian and philosopher was
crucial for the young Dilthey, whose later hermeneutical perspective is indebted
to Schleiermacher's concept of understanding as grounded on the historical and
psychological nature of communication.
In Berlin, Dilthey also met the most influential figures of the Historical School,
like the jurist Friedrich Karl von Savigny (1779-1861), the linguist Jacob Grimm
(1785-1863), and the historian Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886), to whom he would
later acknowledge the merit of having raised historical knowledge to the rank of
a science, and therefore of having laid the foundations for the development of the
human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften).
20
As we can read in his journals from these
years, indeed, Dilthey was working out the double plan of outlining "a history of the
western Christian world-view," and delineating "a new critique of the pure reason
based on our philosophical and historical world-view."
21
Once he had obtained his teaching diploma in 1864 with a work on ethics,
22
Dilthey assumed his first professorship in Basel in 1867, then in Kiel and Breslau. He
was finally appointed in 1882-as successor of Hermann Lotze (1817-81}-to the
chair in philosophy in Berlin that Hegel had once held. He would hold it unti11907.
Member of the "PreuBische Akademie der Wissenschaften" since 1887, he promoted
an edition of the complete works of Kant, and then one of the early writings of
Hegel, which would be published in 1907 by Herman Nohl (1879-1960).23
Wilhelm Dilthey: "The Critique of Historical Reason," Chicago and London: University of
Chicago Press 1978, p. 59.
18
Aus Schleiermachers Leben in Briefen, vols. 1-4, Berlin: G. Reimers 1858-63.
19
Wilhelm Dilthey, Leben Schleiermachers, Berlin: Reimer 1870. Reprinted in his
Gesammelte Schriften, vols. 13-14, ed. by Martin Redecker, Gottingen: Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht 1970; 3"' ed., 1979.
20
Wilhelm Dilthey, "Rede zum 70. Geburtstag," in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol.
5, Die Geistige Welt. Einleitung in die Philosophie des Lebens, tome 1, Abhandlungen zur
Grundlegung der Geisteswissenschaften, ed. by Georg Misch, Stuttgart: Teubner 1924; 8th ed.,
Gtittingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1990, p. 7.
21
Wilhelm Dilthey, Der Junge Dilthey: Ein Lebensbild in Briefen und Tagebiichern,
1852-1870, ed. by Clara Dilthey Misch, Leipzig and Berlin: Teubner 1933; 2nd ed., Gottingen:
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1960, p. 120.
22
Wilhelm Dilthey, Versuch einer Analyse des moralischen Bewusstsein, in his
Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 6, Die geistige Welt. Einleitung in die Philosophie des Lebens,
tome 2, Abhandlungen zur Poetik, Ethik und Padagogik, ed. by Georg Misch, Stuttgart:
Teubner 1958; 6th ed, Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1978, pp. 1-55.
23
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Theologischen Jugendschriften nach den Hand-
schriften der Koniglichen Bibliothek in Berlin, ed. by Herman Noh!, Tiibingen: Mohr 1907.
In 1906 Dilthey published a work on the young Hegel that made use of the recently discovered
theological and political fragments (Die Jugendgeschichte Hegels). The same Noh! would
publish it in 1921 in a volume collecting Dilthey's writings on the history of German idealism:
Wilhelm Dilthey, Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 4, Die Jugendgeschichte Hegels und andere
90 Elisabetta Basso
Since the inaugural lecture by which he assumed his professorship in Basel (Die
dichterische und philosophische Bewegung in Deutschland 1770-1800), Dilthey
acknowledged the centrality of Kant-with whom he shared the philosophical
task of a critical foundation of knowledge-but at the same time he expressed his
intention of completing the critique of the pure reason by the project of studying
the man as a whole, considered in both his psychic reality and historicity. For
Dilthey, it was a matter of working out a new critique of reason which would also
take into account man's historical and social world. Thus, in a writing of 1875 on
"the study of the history of the sciences of man, society, and state,"
24
he outlined a
project of defining a scientific field which differed from that of the natural sciences
in that it required different methods. Such a project became more explicit in the
Introduction to the Human Sciences which he published in 1883,
25
and where he
clearly formulated a distinction between the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften)
and the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften). In this work, Dilthey intended to
provide the latter with a logical, methodological, and gnoseological foundation. In
doing so, he emphasized the fact that their distinction from the natural sciences did
not lie in a metaphysical incommensurability between two different substances, but
in that they possessed their own explanatory principles.
Such a distinction is also at the root of the main works that Dilthey wrote
during the 1890s: "The Origin of Our Belief in the Reality of the External World
and Its Justification,"
26
and, above all, the Ideas Concerning a Descriptive and
Analytic Psychology (1894),
27
where he worked out the famous distinction between
explanation (Erkliiren) and understanding (Verstehen). Here he increasingly parted
Abhandlungen zur Geschichte des Deutschen Idealismus, Stuttgart: Teubner 1921; 6th ed.,
Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1990. Cf. also "Fragmente aus Wilhelm Diltheys
Hegelwerk," ed. by Friedheim Nicolin and Otto Poggeler, Hegelstudien, vol. I, 1961, pp.
103-34
24
Wilhelm Dilthey, Uber das Studium der Geschichte der Wissenschaften vom
Menschen, der Gesel/schaft und dem Staat, in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 5, Die Geistige
Welt. Einleitung in die Phi/osophie des Lebens, tome I, Abhandlungen zur Grundlegung
der Geisteswissenschaften, ed. by Georg Misch, Stuttgart: Teubner 1924; 8th ed., Gottingen:
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1990, pp. 31-73.
25
Wilhelm Dilthey, Einleitung in die Geisteswissenschaften. Versuch einer Grundlegung
for das Studium der Gesellschaft und der Geschichte, in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. I,
ed. by Bernhard Groethuysen, Stuttgart: Teubner 1914; 9th ed., Gottingen: Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht 1990; English translation: Introduction to the Human Sciences, trans. and ed. by
Rudolf A. Makkreel and Frithjof Rodi, Princeton: Princeton University Press 1989.
26
Wilhelm Dilthey, Beitrt'ige zur Losung der Frage vom Ursprung unseres Glaubens an
die Realitt'it der Auj3enwelt und seinem Recht, in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 5, Die Geistige
Welt. Einleitung in die Philosophie des Lebens, tome I, Abhandlungen zur Grundlegung der
Geisteswissenschaften, ed. by Georg Misch, Stuttgart: Teubner 1924; 8th ed., Gottingen:
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1990, pp. 90-138.
27
Wilhelm Dilthey, Ideen uber eine beschreibende und zergliedernde Psychologie, in
his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 5, Die Geistige Welt. Einleitung in die Philosophie des Lebens,
tome I, Abhandlungen zur Grundlegung der Geisteswissenschaften, ed. by Georg Misch,
Stuttgart: Teubner 1924; 8th ed., Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1990, pp. 139-240.
English translation: Ideas Concerning a Descriptive and Analytic Psychology, in Descriptive
Wilhelm Dilthey: Kierkegaard's Influence on Dilthey s Work 91
company with Kant by opposing the theory of knowledge with a stress on the lived
experience (Erlebnis) and the immediate understanding ofhuman life. On this basis,
Dilthey claimed the gnoseological importance of an "analytic and descriptive"
psychology able to analyze the totality of the psychic life in order to break it
down into different functions. Hence, he distinguished such an "understanding
psychology" from a psychology grounded on causal explanation (like psychophysics
and associationism), by maintaining that such a distinction lay in the different
ways phenomena give themselves to consciousness. As psychic phenomena give
themselves to the inner experience in their nexus with the totality of the psychic
life, then they can be grasped only by the analysis of such a psychic nexus, that
is, by investigating the inner perceptions as well as the historical processes in
which this nexus develops and expresses itself in a concrete form. For Dilthey, the
constructions that explanatory psychology builds according to the model of natural
science are hypothetic and arbitrary, since the "facts" they dwell upon are stripped
of their historical concreteness, their character of singularity and uniqueness. This
is why-he concluded at the end of the first chapter of the Ideas--explanatory
psychology could find in the understanding psychology not only "a sound descriptive
framework" and "a precise terminology for exact analysis," but also "an important
means of control."
28
One commentator has interpreted Dilthey's Ideas not just as a theoretical-
methodological work, but also as a "philosophical-political manifesto."
29
Alfredo
Marini, for instance, compared Dilthey's criticism of positivistic psychology to
respectively Nietzsche's and Marx's anthropological "romantic" ideal against the
world and the science of their time. In the same way, he compared this ideal also to
"Kierkegaard's revolt against the Lutheran Church, the ethics and theology of his
time,"
30
and concluded that, despite the important differences, at the very foundation
there is, in all these authors, a common stance that lies in the attempt to trace the
modem world (from Galileo to Newton) and the successful line of modem science
back to an ideal of humanity that modem civilization has limited, repressed. So
these authors would "share a Renaissance ideal of humanity: humanity as natural
microcosm, a full, rich, not mutilated humanity, one which is at the center of an
infinite universe. It is such a kind of humanity, of humanistic ideal, that they oppose
to the actual modemity."
31
During the years following the publication of his Ideas, Dilthey devoted himself
to answering the objections that the philosopher Wilhelm Windelband (1848-1915)
and the psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) had respectively addressed
to his project of a descriptive and analytic psychology. The Contributions to the
Psychology and Historical Understanding, trans. by Richard M. Zaner and Kenneth L.
Heiges; with an introduction by Rudolf A. Makkreel, The Hague: Nijhoff 1977.
28
Dilthey, Jdeen iiber eine beschreibende und zergliedernde Psychologie, p. !53 (Ideas
Concerning a Descriptive and Analytic Psychology, p. 37).
29
Marini, Aile origini della filosofia contemporanea: Wilhelm Dilthey. Antinomie
dell'esperienza, fondazione temporale del mondo umano, epistemologia della connessione,
p. 238.
30
Ibid., p. 239.
3
l Ibid., pp. 238-9.
92 Elisabetta Basso
Study of Individuality ( 1895-96)
32
were conceived by Dilthey exactly as a response
to Windelband's idea that the human sciences would distinguish themselves from
the natural sciences not on the basis of the character of their object, but in that they
are oriented toward the description or narration of singularities-while the natural
sciences aim to determine general laws. Dilthey granted to the human sciences the
primacy of an orientation toward individuality, but not its exclusiveness. Moreover,
he emphasized again the fact that the distinction between the human and natural
sciences lies in the distinction between their respective objects and not just in their
methodology. Whereas in the natural world uniformities prevail, in the social and
historical world it is individuality that asserts itself. This is why human sciences
pursue, in the final analysis, the knowledge of the singular. Now, the passage from
uniformities to individualization is mediated-according to Dilthey-by a plurality
of different but recurrent forms or "types" that are at the root of the individuality of
the phenomena of the human world.
As regards the question about the understanding as a lived experience (Erlebnis),
Dilthey now maintained that it no longer coincides with a direct and immediate
knowledge of self given by introspection, but it consists in grasping the inner life
of other individuals by analogy with one's own inner life. Such a passage is quite
important in Dilthey's thought, since it coupled the problem of understanding with
the need of interpretation, and therefore it emphasized the problem of hermeneutics
as historical process. This is a crucial theme that characterizes the last part of the
philosopher's work. Thus, in the essay of 1900 on "The Rise of Hermeneutics,"
33
Dilthey claimed that the inner intelligibility oflived experience did not yet constitute
understanding. This latter proceeds indeed through the interpretation of human
objectifications, that is, through the objective and historical expression of life. It
is only in this way that it would become possible to raise the understanding of the
singular to the level of universal validity.
Between 1904 and 1910 Dilthey presented the "PreuBische Akademie der
Wissenschaften" with a series of"studies on the grounding of the human sciences"
34
32
Wilhelm Dilthey, Beitriige zum Studium der Jndividualitiit (Ober vergleichende
Psychologie), in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 5, Die Geistige Welt. Einleitung in die
Philosophie des Lebens, tome I, Abhandlungen zur Grundlegung der Geisteswissenschaften,
ed. by Georg Misch, Stuttgart: Teubner 1924; 8th ed., GCittingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
1990,pp.241-316.
33
Wilhelm Dilthey, "Die Entstehung der Hermeneutik," in his Gesammelte Schriften,
vol. 5, Die Geistige Welt. Einleitung in die Philosophie des Lebens, tome I, Abhandlungen zur
Grundlegung der Geisteswissenschaften, pp. 317-38.
34
Wilhelm Dilthey, Studien zur Grundlegung der Geisteswissenschaften, in his
Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 7, Der Aujbau der geschichtlichen Welt in den Geisteswissen-
schaften, ed. by Bernhard Groethuysen, Stuttgart: Teubner 1927; 8th ed., GCittingen:
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1992. English translation: Studies Toward the Foundation of the
Human Sciences, trans. by Rudolf A. Makkreel and John Scanlon, in Wilhelm Dilthey's
Selected Works, vol. 3, The Formation of the Historical World in the Human Sciences, ed. by
Rudolf A. Makkreel and Frithjof Rodi, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2002.
Wilhelm Dilthey: Kierkegaard's Influence on Di/they 's Work
93
focused respectively on the "psychic structural nexus,"
35
the "structural nexus of
knowledge,"
36
and the delimitation between human sciences and natural sciences.
37
Compared to the emphasis in Ideas on the concept of Erlebnis, these studies
introduced the notion of Erleben, intended as lived temporal sequence of the
Erlebnisse on the level of consciousness. Moreover, following Husserl's Logical
Investigations ( 1900-01 )-whose descriptive method appeared to him to be similar
to his own descriptive and analytic psychology-Dilthey now distinguished in the
structural unity of the Erleben two different moments: acts and contents. Psychic
acts-according to him-have contents that are related to the objects of the world
by means of attitudinal stances. The aim of the theory of knowledge (Theorie des
Wissens) would be thus to regress from objects to attitudes, in order to uncover the
structural nexus of knowledge as grounded on cognition, feling, and will.
From Husser! Dilthey also took the concept of expression, by which he defined
the objectivation of the psychic life in its manifold forms, and that he conceived as
the bridge between the Erleben and the understanding. This latter was now intended
as the process by which the subject traces back the "expressions of the Erlebnisse"
(Erlebnisausdrucken)
38
to their origins, namely, the psychic life and the forms in
which it has objectived itself. At the root of understanding there is what Dilthey calls
the "referring back" from outer phenomena to the Erleben. Therefore, the highest
task of understanding is to retrospectively articulate the specific dynamic context in
which the expressions of the Erlebnisse originate.
One scholar has seen in such a conception of understanding as an operation running
inverse to the course of production, "Dilthey 's rendering of the Kierkegaardian maxim
that we live forward and understand backwards. "
39
In any event, the circularity of the
relation between the Erleben, the expression, and the understanding becomes now
the ground of the human sciences that Dilthey was still looking for at the beginning
35
Wilhelm Dilthey, Studien zur Grundlegung der Geisteswissenschaften, Erste Studie:
"Der psychische Strukturzusammenhang," in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 7, pp. 3-23.
English translation: Studies Toward the Foundation of the Human Sciences, First Study, "The
Psychic Structural Nexus," pp. 23-33.
36
Wilhelm Dilthey, Studien zur Grundlegung der Geisteswissenschaften, Zweite Studie:
"Der Strukturzusammenhang des Wissens," in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 7, pp. 24--69.
English translation: Studies Toward the Foundation of the Human Sciences, Second Study,
"The Structural Nexus of Knowledge," pp. 45-90.
37
Wilhelm Dilthey, Studien zur Grundlegung der Geisteswissenschaften, Dritte Studie:
"Die Abgrenzung der Geisteswissenschaften," in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 7, pp. 70-5.
English translation, Studies Toward the Foundation of the Human Sciences, Third Study, "The
Delimitation of the Human Sciences," pp. 91-7.
38
Wilhelm Dilthey, Der Aujbau der geschichtlichen Welt in den Geisteswissenschaften,
in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 7. English translation: The Formation of the Historical
World in the Human Sciences, trans. by Rudolf A. Makkreel and John Scanlon, in Wilhelm
Dilthey's Selected Works, vol. 3, The Formation of the Historical World in the Human Sciences,
ed. by Rudolf A. Makkreel and Frithjof Rodi, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2002,
pp. 79-190.
39
Rudolf A. Makkreel, Dilthey: Philosopher of the Human Studies, Princeton: Princeton
University Press 1975, p. 328.
94 Elisabetta Basso
of the century. In his main work of 1910, The Formation of the Historical World in
the Human Sciences,
40
Dilthey maintained that the objective correlate of that relation
is life insofar as it is, ultimately, the connectedness of the whole of mankind. On
this basis, he showed that the psychic life is tied to socio-historical reality, since
everything-in the latter-is objectivated life, and everything should be traced back
to life. In this sense, Dilthey could reutilize Hegel's concept of"objective spirit," but,
whereas Hegel had restricted objective spirit to the political, social, and economic
aspects of historical life, he expanded the concept to embody not only the sciences,
religion, art, and philosophy, but also the mundane aspects of life.
Moreover, in order to define the structure of historical reality, Dilthey coined the
notion of"productive nexus or system" (Wirkungszusammenhang),
41
a nexus that-
unlike the object of the natural sciences-produces values and realizes goals. This
entails that values and goals do not have a universal validity, since they are historical
products. For this reason, Dilthey's "critique of historical reason" is grounded on
the acknowledgement of the finitude of man and world. Historicity and finitude are
thus also the main characters of philosophy, since this latter is grounded on life. This
is why, for Dilthey, each philosophical system basically coincides with a different
"world-view" (Weltanschauung). And it is precisely to this theme that the last works
ofDilthey are devoted.
In an unpublished essay on "The Historical Consciousness and the World
Views,"
42
as well as in "The Types of World-Views and their Unfolding within
the Metaphysical Systems"
43
-which was published in 1911, the same year of
the philosopher's death-Dilthey distinguished three main forms of world-views,
namely, the artistic or poetic, the religious, and the philosophical or metaphysical.
Despite their differences, all these systems of thought share the aim of giving an
answer to the question about "the riddle of world and life,"
44
but none of them-
according to Dilthey-owns the truth. Thus, in a text from 1907 on The Essence
40
Dilthey, Der Aujbau der geschichtlichen Welt in den Geisteswissenschaften.
41
Ibid., p. 152. English translation: The Formation of the Historical World in the Human
Sciences, p. 174.
42
Wilhelm Dilthey, Das geschichtliche Bewusstsein und die Weltanschauungen, in
his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 8, Weltanschauungslehre. Abhandlungen zur Philosophie
der Philosophie, ed. by Bernard Groethuysen, Stuttgart: Teubner 1931; 6th ed., Gottingen:
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1991, pp. 3-71.
43
Wilhelm Dilthey, Die Typen der Weltanschauung und ihre Ausbildung in den
metaphysischen Systemen, in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 8, Weltanschauungslehre.
Abhandlungen zur Philosophie der Philosophie, ed. by Bernard Groethuysen, Stuttgart:
Teubner 1931; 6th ed., Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1991, pp. 75-118. English
translation: 'The Types of World-Views and Their Development in the Metaphysical
Systems," trans. and ed. by Hans Peter Rickman, in Wilhelm Dilthey's Selected Writings,
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1976, pp. 133-54.
44
Wilhelm Dilthey, Zur Weltanschauungslehre, in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol.
8, Weltanschauungslehre. Abhandlungen zur Philosophie der Philosophie, ed. by Bernard
Groethuysen, Stuttgart: Teubner 1931; 6th ed., Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1991,
pp. 208-9.
Wilhelm Dilthey: Kierkegaard's Influence on Dilthey's Work 95
of Philosophy
45
-but also in his last works on the doctrine of the world-views
(Weltanschauungslehre)-the German philosopher aimed less at proposing a
philosophy, than at outlining a "philosophy of philosophy" which would be able
to acknowledge the historical conditions of all philosophical doctrines. This meant
also, for Dilthey, acknowledging the inconsistency of any attempts at decreeing once
and for all an unconditioned and universal truth. Since truth is the expression of the
activity of a finite being who cannot transcend his own finitude, it cannot be but
historical.
The few scholars who have wondered about the relation between Dilthey's
philosophical project and Kierkegaard's thought have mainly dwelt upon this latter
point. If it is true that no philosophical system owns the truth, that our grasp of reality
is finite and piecemeal-so that all knowledge contains a fiduciary element-"it
appears, then, that a world-view of this kind is really secular nomenclature for faith,"
a faith that "functions much like religious faith."
46
Thus Dilthey would agree with
Kierkegaard in admitting that the world in its own terms is absurd and irrational.
But, instead of accepting the "leap of faith" into a transcendent realm wherein it
finds meaning and value, he tried to combine the two opposite views of atheism and
Christianity by "placing his absolute, life, in an immanenentist setting,"
47
that is a
"philosophy of philosophy" aiming at studying the manifold historical world-views
or "faiths" by which men have tried to solve the riddle of life.
Besides, if each Weltanschauung is a kind of faith or metaphysical will to
universal validity, this entails that each ofthem must struggle in order to prevail over
45
Wilhelm Dilthey, Das Wesen der Philosophie, in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol.
5, Die Geistige Welt. Einleitung in die Philosophie des Lebens, tome I, Abhandlungen zur
Grund/egung der Geisteswissenschaflen, ed. by Georg Misch, Stuttgart: Teubner 1924; 8th ed.,
Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1990, pp. 339-416. English translation: The Essence of
Philosophy, trans. by Stephen A. Emery and William T. Emery, Chapel Hill: University of
North Carolina Press 1954.
46
Ramon J. Betanzos, "Wilhelm Dilthey: An Introduction," in Wilhelm Dilthey,
Introduction to the Human Sciences: An Attempt to Lay a Foundation for the Study of Society
and History, trans. by Ramon J. Betanzos, Detroit: Wayne State University Press 1988, pp.
9-63, seep. 59.
47
Ibid. Also Carlo Antoni, in his From History to Sociology, Detroit: Wayne State
University Press 1959-in discussing Max Weber's position towards ethics-introduces both
Kierkegaard 's and Dilthey's conception of faith: "Dilthey had pointed out the modem 'anarchy
of values.' Weber accepted it: 'Anyone who lives in the world cannot avoid experiencing
within him a struggle between the plurality of values, each one of which appears binding
when taken by itself .... As in Kierkegaard and the 'crisis theologians,' faith, for Weber,
had become a commitment" (pp. 141-2). As regards Dilthey's position towards ethics and
values, Livio Bottani-in his Wilhelm Dilthey. Coscienza storica. coscienza metafisica ed
ermeneutica, Vercelli: Edizioni Mercurio 1994--emphasizes the concept of responsibility. In
fact, despite the outward relativism that appears to characterize Dilthey's historicism, his idea
of history as "memory of mankind" involves the concepts of sin and responsibility: "It is not a
matter of something of the original sin, although Christian thought, on this point, has much to
teach us (just think, for instance, of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas or Kierkegaard) ... Although
Dilthey is not a Christian thinker in the true sense of the term, yet he has much to teach us on
this subject" (p. 142).
96 Elisabetta Basso
the others. One scholar has interpreted this position as an answer to Kierkegaard's
question about whether "should one suffer death for the truth," and compared
Kierkegaard's own answer-according to which no single man and no Christian
should believe that he is in sole possession of the truth-to Dilthey's radical
historicization of philosophical truth.
48
It is indisputable, however, that-even though it appears that Dilthey shares
Kierkegaard 's attitude towards the historicity of man's truth and finitude-nonetheless
the two thinkers' respective goals are very different. Whereas Kierkegaard's thought
arises from Christian faith and is devoted to found man's commitment towards God's
truth in history, Dilthey, rather, is interested in apprehending the innermost nature of
religious life in history. If it is true that, like Kierkegaard, he attacks the systematic
aspect of theology, he does so not in order to restore the purity of the Christian faith,
but in order to bring the religious life to the attention of his times, "which are moved
exclusively by matters of state and science."
49
Dilthey is not a Christian author, and
religion, for him, is just one among the manifold human and historical world-views.
The answer that religion offers to the "riddle of world and life" is at the same level
as art and philosophy, since that riddle does not arise from God's transcendence. The
experience of the riddle of life-an experience from which arises metaphysics-
cannot be overcome either by philosophy or by religion, since what founds life and
its meaning is ultimately life itself.
The editor of the volumes 5-8 ofDilthey's Gesammelte Schriften, Georg Misch
( 1878-1965), who was also Dilthey's father-in-law, has rightly emphasized that such
a metaphysical experience arises from the astonishment (Staunen) and the shiver
(Schauern) before the riddle of the world and life. 5 It has been pointed out that
such feelings present the same fundamental character as Kierkegaard's anxiety, 5
1
but
with an important difference, consisting in the fact that such a radical experience of
finitude, in Dilthey, does not arise from its difference from God's transcendence, but
from the same intrinsic finitude of man's life.
So, one cannot really find something like a direct tangential point between
Kierkegaard and Dilthey's thought.
52
Interestingly enough, however-as we have
already pointed out at the beginning of the present article-both philosophers
are often mentioned and used by some of the most influential contemporary
48
Bottani, Wilhelm Dilthey. Coscienza storica, coscienza metafisica ed ermeneutica,
pp. 118-19.
49
Wilhelm Dilthey, Der junge Dilthey. Ein Lebensbild in Briefen und Tagebuchern,
1852-1870, ed. by Clara Dilthey Misch, Leipzig and Berlin: Teubner 1933; 2d ed., G5ttingen:
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1960, p. 140.
50
Georg Misch, Lebensphilosophie und Phiinomeno/ogie. Eine Auseinandersetzung der
Diltheyschen Rich tung mit Heidegger und Husser/, Bonn: F. Cohen 1930; 2"" ed., Leipzig und
Berlin: Teubner Verlag 1931, p. 242; pp. 250ff.; pp. 319ff.
51
Bottani, Wilhelm Di/they. Coscienza storica, coscienza metafisica ed ermeneutica,
pp. 46ff.
52
There does not exist a genuine secondary literature on Dilthey's relation to
Kierkegaard. This is why the most of the authors mentioned in the attendant bibliographical
section in the present article do not compare Dilthey to Kierkegaard explicitly and directly,
but they rather use them both in order to work out their own philosophical projects.
Wilhelm Dilthey: Kierkegaard s Influence on Dilthey s Work
97
philosophers. Among these, Heidegger stands out as the most evident, since he has
himself emphasized the importance of both Kierkegaard and Dilthey at the origin of
his philosophical project. 5
3
In fact the two thinkers play a crucial role in the lectures
that Heidegger gave at the University Freiburg between 1.919 and 1923, in which
he dwelt upon St. Augustine, Luther, Schleiermacher, Kierkegaard, Dilthey, and
Aristotle, in order to renew the great problems of philosophy against the traditional
theoretical categories of metaphysics.
54
Kierkegaard and Dilthey are thus two
important references at a time when Heidegger was dwelling upon the possibility of
questioning the problems of historicity, existence, and life by starting from life itself
53
Martin Heidegger, "Vorwort zur ersten Ausgabe" (1972), in his Frnhen Schriften,"
Gesamtausgabe, Abteilung I, vol. 1, ed. by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, Frankfurt
am Main: Klostermann 1975ff., pp. 55-7; seep. 56: "Was die erregenden Jahre zwischen
1910 und 1914 brachten, liisst sich gebuhrend nicht sag en, sondern nur durch eine Weniges
auswiihlende Aufziihlung andeuten: Die zweite urn das Doppelte vermehrte Ausgabe von
Nietzsches 'Willen zur Macht, 'die Ubersetzung der Werke Kierkegaards und Dostojewskis,
das erwachende Interesse for Hegel und Schelling, Rilkes Dichtungen und Trakls
Gedichte, Diltheys 'Gesammelte Schriften.' " But see also Max Scheler, "Zusiitze aus den
Nachgelassenen Manuskripten" (1927), in Gesammelte Werke, vols. 1-15, Bonn: Bouvier
Verlag 1954-98, vol. 7, ed. by von Manfred S. Frings, Bem-Milnchen: Francke, 1973, seep.
330:" 'Heidegger': '11. Einfluss: Kierkegaard, Protestantismus, Scheler, Jaspers Dilthey, Graf
Yorck.' " See also Hans-Georg Gadamer, "Erinnerungen an Heideggers Anflinge," Dilthey-
Jahrbuch for Philosophie und Geschichte der Geisteswissenschaften, vol. 4, 1986-87, pp.
13-26, seep. 14: "Sicher gehOrt das Kierkegaard-Studium schon in diesefriihe Zeit. Als 1923
die Religi6sen Reden Kierkegaards auf deutsch erschienen (bei Diederichs unter dem Titel
Leben und Wallen der Liebe) war dasfor Heidegger wohl schon der Augenblick, in dem er das
von Jaspers gebotene systematische Kierkegaard-Referat und Kierkegaard selbst kritisch zu
sehen beg ann und in Kierkegaard mehr den religi6sen Schriftsteller als den Denker wiJrdigte.
Dilthey spielte damals ebenfalls bereits eine bedeutende Rolle, was sich inzwischen aus den
Ergebnissen der Forschung, uber die Herr Rodi berichtet hat, bestiitigt. In meinen Augen
kann es kein Zweifel sein, daft for das Dilthey-Studium die entscheidende Epoche vor 1920
lag, und nicht etwa erst in den Marburger 20er Jahren, als die Komplettierung der Dilthey-
Ausgabe durch den 5. Band einsetzte, dessen von Misch verfaj3ter Vorbericht von Heidegger
in einer Marburger Vorlesung mit groj3em Respekt genannt worden ist. Auch hier muj3 man
jedoch rnckdatieren. Selbst der 1923 erschienene Briefwechsel zwischen Graf Yorck und
Wilhelm Dilthey bedeutete for Heidegger eher so etwas wie den Beginn des Abgesangs auf
Dilthey." Jaspers also emphasizes Heidegger's deep interest in K.ierkegaard at the time of
his friendship with the German philosopher: Karl Jaspers, Philosophische Autobiographie,
Munich and Zurich: Piper 1977, pp. 93-6. (Chapter 10 of this work, on Heidegger, is not
included in the first edition of Jaspers' autobiography, which was first published in English in
1957: Philosophical Autobiography, in The Philosophy of Karl Jaspers, ed. by Paul Arthur
Schilpp, New York: Tudor Publishing Company 1957, pp. 5-94.)
54
See, in particular, Martin Heidegger, Ontologie (Hermeneutik der Faktizitiit} (1923),
in his Gesamtausgabe, Abteilung 2, Vorlesungen, vol. 63, ed. by Kiite Brilcker-Oltmenns,
Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann 1982 (2"" ed., 1995), p. 14; p. 37; p. 42; p. 52; p. 68;
p. 72; p. 106; p. 107 (Dilthey); p. 5; p. 17; p. 30; p. 41; p. 108; p. 111 (Kierkegaard); English
translation: Ontology-The Hermeneutics ofFacticity, trans. by John van Buren, Bloomington
and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press 1999, pp. 10-ll; p. 29; pp. 33--4; p. 41; p. 54;
p. 57; p. 81; p. 82 (Dilthey); p. 4; p. 13; p. 25; p. 33; p. 83; p. 86 (Kierkegaard).
98 Elisabetta Basso
in its own movement, that is, what Heidegger calls its "facticity" (Faktizitiit). And,
of course, one should also mention Heidegger's Being and Time. 5
5
But also certainly worth mentioning is Jaspers' way of referring to both
Dilthey and Kierkegaard. As the German psychiatrist and philosopher pointed
out in his Philosophical Autobiography in 1957, very early-since his General
Psychopathology of 1913
56
-he adopted the approach outlined by Dilthey's
"verstehende Psychologie," and "searched for the methodological justification
and a systematic organization of these procedures."
57
But in those same years-
which coincide with his first professorship in Heidelberg-Jaspers also discovered
Kierkegaard, whom he put within "the magnificent tradition of the thinkers who
had developed this kind of psychology," and who "struck [him] as a revelation,"
since he was "able to make communicable a universal and at the same time quite
concrete insight into every comer of the human soul and to its very deepest
sources."
58
Both Kierkegaard and Dilthey are crucial, not only in Jaspers' approach
to psychopathology, but also in his philosophy, as it is explicitly stated in his first
philosophical work, the Psychology of the World-Views of 1919, where the two
thinkers are both discussed at length. 5
9
It would be certainly worth inquiring about the meaning of this presence, but
accounting for it would merge with the complex history of the receptions of our
authors, and it could be material for a study which would surpass the aim of the
present article.
60
The list of the thinkers who have taken into account the various
55
Martin Heidegger, Sein und'Zeit, in his Gesamtausgabe, Abteilung I, vol. 2, ed. by
Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann 1975ff., p. 62; p. 63,
note I; p. 272, note 8; pp. 277-8; p. 331, note 2; p. 499; pp. 525-33 (Dilthey); p. 191, note 4;
p. 338, note 3 (Kierkegaard). English translation, Being and Time, trans. by John Macquarrie
and Edward Robinson, Oxford: Basil Blackwell 1962, pp. 46; 47 and note 2; p. 205, note
15; p. 209; p. 210 and note 19; p. 249, note 6; p. 377; p. 385, note 8; pp. 397-404 (Dilthey);
p. 190, note 4; p. 235, note 6; p. 338, note 3.
56
Karl Jaspers, Allgemeine Psychopathologie (1913), 9th ed., Berlin: Springer 1973.
See p. 250 (Dilthey); and p. 262; p. 274; pp. 291-2; p. 300; pp. 354ff.; p. 589; p. 613;
pp. 630-1; pp. 646-7; p. 649; p. 680; p. 686 (Kierkegaard).
57
Jaspers, Philosophical Autobiography, in The Philosophy of Karl Jaspers, p. 18.
58
Ibid., p. 26.
59
Karl Jaspers, Psychopathologie der Weltanschauungen, Berlin: Springer 1919; see
p. II; p. 98; p. 132; p. 142; p. 160 (Dilthey); p. 12; p. 13; p. 61; p. 65; p. 90; p. 12; p. 13;
p. 61; p. 65; p. 90; p. 94; p. 95; p. 96; p. 101; p. 160; p. 198; pp. 217-8; pp. 225-6; p. 238;
p.242;pp.245-6;p.247;p.294;p.300;p.302;p.316;p.329;p.332ff.;p.339;p.341;p.348;
pp. 350-1; pp. 353ff.; p. 357; p. 358; pp. 359ff.; p. 370; pp. 371ff.; pp. 378ff. (Kierkegaard).
6
For a double reference to Kierkegaard and Dilthey as regards Jaspers' position towards
the problem of historicity, cf. Kurt Hoffman, "The Basic Concepts of Jaspers' Philosophy,"
in The Philosophy of Karl Jaspers, ed. by Paul Arthur Schilpp, New York: Tudor Publishing
Company 1957, pp. 95-113, seep. 95; p. 100; pp. 101-2. According to Hoffman, Jaspers'
concept of "historicity" derives in part from the philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey-according
to which man is an exclusively historical being, unique and concrete, finite and temporal-but
also from Kierkegaard's concept of existence, as it "is on the one hand a record of changing
circumstances, hopes and fears, while on the other hand, it reaches beyond the limits of the
empirical world and of time. Its historicity is eternity embodied in time or history at the limits
Wilhelm Dilthey: Kierkegaard's Influence on Dilthey 's Work 99
and different aspects of respectively Dilthey's and Kierkegaard's thought could
go on. One could mention, for instance, Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923) as regards
the philosophy of history,
61
or Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) as regards
hermeneutics. The latter, in particular, explicitly maintains that "as the philosophical
ideas ofDilthey and Kierkegaard entered into the foundations of twentieth-century
Existenzphilosophie, this led to a philosophical radicalization of the hermeneutical
problem."
62
And inhis paper of 1985 "On the Transformation of the Human
Sciences," Gadarner emphasizes the role played by the rediscovery ofKierkegaard's
"pathos of existence" and Dilthey's life-philosophy for the collapse of idealism in
the contemporary philosophical world.
63
In the field of psychology, both thinkers are largely present in the work of
the Swiss psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger (1881-1966), who has explicitly
gathered together Kierkegaard's questioning of existence and Dilthey's concept of
understanding as the two main sources of psychology as human science. According
to Binswanger, Dilthey and Kierkegaard should indeed be considered as two of the
most meaningful co-founders of a new kind of science, a "science of the individual,"
lived life, one which would be able to grasp the psychic phenomena apart from any
indirect hypostatization.
64
of eternity" (p. 102). See alsop. 103: " 'Historical' for Jaspers is what eludes fixation by
universal maxims and any integration into a system. 'Historical' is also every manifestation
of transcendent reality, which in its very nature cannot be understood by means of universally
valid dogma nor be integrated into a system of revelations."
61
Ernst Troeltsch, Der Historismus und seine Probleme, in his Gesammelte Schrifien,
vols. 1-4, Tlibingen: J.C.B. Mohr 1913-25, vol. 3, pp. 24-5; p. 63; p. 120; p. 125; p. 258;
p. 28l;p.290;p. 294;p. 376;pp. 393-4;pp. 420-l;p.437;pp. 509-30;pp. 549ff.;p. 577;
pp. 594ff.; pp. 601-2; p. 646; p. 659 (Dilthey); p. 53; p. 178; p. 307; pp. 311-12 (Kierkegaard).
62
Hans-Georg Gadamer, "Klassische und philosophische Hermeneutik," in his
Gesammelte Werke, vols. 1-10, Tlibingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1990-95, vol. 2, Hermeneutikll, pp.
92-117, seep. 103. English translation, "Classical and Philosophical Hermeneutics," trans.
by Richard E. Palmer, in Hans-Georg Gadamer, The Gadamer Reader: A Bouquet of the
Later Writings, ed. by Richard E. Palmer, Evanston: Northwestern University Press 2007,
pp. 41-71, seep. 55.
63
Hans-Georg Gadamer, "Vom Wandel in den Geisteswissenschaften," in his
Gesammelte Werke, vol. 10, Hermeneutik im Ruckblick, pp. 179-84, seep. 181. On Gadamer's
relation to both Kierkegaard and Dilthey, see Fred Lawrence, "Gadamer, the Hermeneutic
Revolution, and Theology," in The Cambridge Companion to Gadamer, ed. by Robert J.
Dostal, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002, pp. 167-200, see in particular p. 179.
64
Ludwig Binswanger, "Das Raumproblem in der Psychopathologie," Zeitschrifi for
die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, vol. 145, 1933, pp. 598-647, seep. 620 (in his
Ausgewiihlte Werke in vier Banden, vo1s. 1-4, ed. by Hans-Jlirg Barun, Heidelberg: Asanger
1992-94, vol. 3, pp. 123-77, seep. 146; also published in his Ausgewiihlte Vortrage und
Aufsiitze, vols. 1-2, Bern: Francke 1947-55, vol. 2, pp. 618-43).
Bibliography
I. References to or Uses of Kierkegaard in Dilthey 's Corpus
"Biographisch-literarischer Grundriss der allgemeinen Geschichte der Philosophie,"
in his Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie: 1900-1905, in
Gesammelte Schriflen, vols. 1-26, ed. by Karlfried Grunder (vols. 1-15),
Karlfried GrUnder and Frithjof Rodi (vols. 18--26), Gottingen: Vandenhoeck
& Ruprecht 1970--2006, vol. 23, ed. by Gabriele Gebhardt and Hans-Ulrich
Lessing, p. 157.
II. Sources of Dilthey 's Knowledge of Kierkegaard
Barthold, Albert, Soren Kierkegaard. Eine Verfasser-Existenz eigner Art, Halberstadt:
Frantz 1873.
-A us und iiber Soren Kierkegaard. Friichte und Blatter, Halberstadt: Frantz 1874.
-Not en zu Soren Kierkegaards Lebensgeschichte, Halle: Fricke 1876.
- Lessing und die objective Wahrheit: aus Soren Kierkegaards Schriflen
zusammengestellt, Halle: Fricke 1877.
- Die Bedeutung der iisthetischen Schriflen Soren Kierkegaards, Halle: Fricke
1879.
- Zur theologischen Bedeutung Soren Kierkegaards, Halle: Fricke 1880.
- S. Kierkegaards Personlichkeit in ihrer Verwirklichung der ldeale, Gi.itersloh:
Bertelsmann 1886.
Brandes, Georg, Soren Kierkegaard. Ein literarisches Charakterbild, Leipzig: Barth
1879.
Heubaum, Alfred, [Review of Soren Kierkegaard, Angriff auf die Christenheit von
A. Dorner und Chr. Schrempf, Stuttgart: Fr. Frommanns; and Harald Hoffding,
Seren Kierkegaard als Philosoph], in "Jahresbericht i.iber die nachkantische
Philosophie, Part IV, Schriften i.iber Schleiermacher, Herbart, Grillparzer,
Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard und Nietzsche," Archiv fUr Geschichte der
Philosophie, vol. 12, 1899, pp. 358-60.
Hoffding, Harald, Psychologie in Umrissen auf Grundlage der Erfahrung, trans. by
F. Bendixen, Leipzig: Altenburg 1887, see pp. 389-90; p. 409; p. 483.
-"Die Philosophie in Danemark im 19. Jahrhundert," Archiv fUr Geschichte der
Philosophie, vol. 2, 1889, pp. 49-74, see pp. 64ff.
- Geschichte der neuren Philosophie. Eine Darstellung der Geschichte der
Philosophie von dem Ende der Renaissance his zu unseren Tagen, trans. by
F. Bendixen, vols. 1-2, Leipzig: Reisland 1895, see vol. 2, pp. 317-22; p.
652 (Originally published as Den nyere Filosofis Historie: en Fremstilling
Wilhelm Dilthey: Kierkegaard's Influence on Dilthey's Work 101
af Fi!osojiens Historie fra Renaissancens Slutning til vore Dage, vols. 1-2,
Copenhagen: Philipsen 1894-95).
- Seren Kierkegaard als Philosoph, trans. by Albert Domer and Christoph
Schrempf, Stuttgart: Frommann 1896.
Kierkegaard, S0ren, Christhentum und Kirche. "Die Gegenwart. "Ein ernstes Wort
an unsere Zeit, insbesondere an die evangelische Geistlichkeit, anonymous
translation, Hamburg: Kohner 1861 (2nd ed., 1864).
- Zur Selbstpril.fimg der Gegenwart anbefohlen, from the 3'd Danish edition trans.
and ed. by Christian Hansen, Erlangen: Deichert 1862 (4th ed., 1895).
- Einladung und A"rgernis. Biblische Darstel/ung und christliche Begriffsbestim-
mung, trans. and ed. by Albert Barthold, Halberstadt: Frantz 1872.
- Seren Kierkegaard. Eine Verfasser-Existenz eigner Art. A us seinen Mittheilungen
zusammengestellt, trans. and ed. by Albert Barthold, Halberstadt: Frantz 1873.
- Aus und iiber Seren Kierkegaard. Frilchte und Blatter, trans. and ed. by Albert
Barthold, Halberstadt: Frantz 1874.
- Zwolf Reden von Seren Kierkegaard, trans. and ed. by Albert Barthold, Halle:
Fricke 1875 (2nd ed., 1896).
- Von den Lilien auf dem Felde und den Vogeln unter dem Himmel. Drei Reden
Seren Kierkegaards, trans. and ed. by Albert Barthold, Halberstadt: H. Meyer
1876.
-Den Lilien auf dem Felde und die Vogel unter dem Himmel. Drei fromme Reden.
Hoherpriester-Zollner-Siinderin. Drei Beichtreden von Seren Kierkegaard,
trans. and ed. by Albert Barthold, Halle: J. Fricke 1877 (2nd ed., 1896).
-Lessing und die objective Wahrheit: aus Seren Kierkegaards Schriften trans. and
ed. by Albert Barthold, Halle: Fricke 1877.
- Einiibung im Christentum, trans. by Albert Barthold, Halle: Fricke 1878 (2nd
ed.,1894).
- Die Krankheit zum Tode. Eine christ/iche psychologische Entwicklung zur
Erbauung und Erweckung, trans. by Albert Barthold, Halle: Fricke 1881.
- Hauptschriften, ed. by H.J. Bestmann, vol. 1: Furcht und Zittern: dialektische
Lyrik von Johannes de silentio, trans. by H. C. Ketels, Erlangen: Deichert 1882.
- Entweder-Oder: ein Lebensfragment, trans. by Alexander Michelsen and Otto
Gleiss, Leipzig: Lehmann 1885.
- Stadien auf dem Lebenswege, ed. and trans. by Albert Barthold, Leipzig: Lehmann
1886 (2nd ed., Dresden: Ungelenk 1909).
- Zur Psychologie der Siinde, der Bekehrung und des Glaubens. Zwei Schriften
(Der Begriff der Angst; Philosophische Bissen), trans. by Christoph Schrempf,
Leipzig: Richter, 1890.
- Leben und Walten der Liebe, trans. and ed. by Albert Domer, Leipzig: Richter
1890.
- Was wir lernen von den Lilien auf dem Felde und den Vogeln unter dem Himmel.
Drei Reden von Seren Kierkegaard, ed. by Alfred Puis, Gotha: Thienemann 1891.
- Richtet selbst! Zur Selbstprilfung der Gegenwart anbefohlen, trans. and ed. by
Albert Domer and Christoph Schrempf, Stuttgart: Frommann 1896.
- Angriff auf die Christenheit: Schriften und Aussiitze 1851-1855, vols. 1-2, trans.
by A. Domer and Chr. Schrempf, Stuttgart: Frommann 1896.
102 Elisabetta Basso
- Ausgewiihlte christliche Reden von Seren Kierkegaard. Mit einem Anhang iiber
Kierkegaards Familie und Privatleben nach den personlichen Erinnerungen
seiner Nichte, Fraulein Lund, trans. and ed. by Julie von Reincke, Giessen:
Ricker 1901.
- A us den Tiefen der Refiexion. Etwas for den Einzelnen aus Seren Kierkegaards
Tagenbiichern 1833-1855, trans. and ed. by F. Venator, Zweibriicken in Pfalz:
Lehmann 190 I.
- Zwei etisch-religiose Abhandlungen von Seren Kierkegaard, trans. and ed. by
Julie von Reincke, Giessen: Ricker 1902.
- Das Tagebuch des Ver:fiihrers, trans. and ed. by Max Dathendey, Leipzig: Insel
1903 (2"d ed., 1905).
- Seren Kierkegaards Verhiiltnis zu seiner Braut. Briefe und Au.fzeichnungen aus
seinem Nachlass, trans. by E. Rohr, ed. by Henriette Lund, Leipzig: Insel1904.
- Seren Kierkegaard. Buch des Richters, trans. and ed. by Hermann Gottsched,
Jena and Leipzig: Diedrichs 1905.
- Seren Kierkegaard, trans., introduced and ed. by Albert Barthold, Hamburg:
Agentur des Rauhen Hauses 1906.
- Soren Kierkegaard und sein Verhiiltnis zu "ihr." A us nachgelassenen Papiren,
trans. and ed. by Raphael Meyer, Stuttgart: Juncker 1905.
- Seren Kierkegaard. Ein unfreier Pionier der Freiheit (excerpts from Soren
Kierkegaards agitatorische Schriften und Aufsiitze), trans. and ed. by Christoph
Schrempf, introduced by Harald H0ffding, Frankfurt am Main: Neuer Frankfurter
Verlag 1907.
Munch, Philipp,Die Haupt- und Grundgedanken der Philosophie Soren Kierkegaards
in kritischer Beleuchtung, Leipzig: Richter 1901.
Troeltsch, Ernst, [Review of Harald H0ffding, Seren Kierkegaard als Philosoph,
trans. by Albert Domer and Christoph Schrempf, Stuttgart: Frommann 1896],
Theologischer Jahresbericht, vol. 16, 1896-97, pp. 539-40.
Yorck von Wartenburg, Paul, "Brief an Dilthey, 12.10.1896," in Brie.fwechsel
Wilhelm Dilthey und Graf Paul York von Wartenburg, 1877-1897, ed. by Erich
Rothacker, Halle: Max Niemeyer 1923, p. 224.
III. Secondary Literature on Dilthey 's Relation to Kierkegaard
Antoni, Carlo, Dalla storicismo alia sociologia, Florence: Sansoni 1940 (2"d ed.,
1951), p. 145; English translation: From History to Sociology, Detroit: Wayne
State University Press 1959, pp. 141-2.
Betanzos, Ramon J., "Wilhelm Dilthey: An Introduction," in Wilhelm Dilthey,
Introduction to the Human Sciences: An Attempt to Lay a Foundation for the
Study of Society and History, trans. by Ramon J. Betanzos, Detroit: Wayne State
University Press 1988, pp. 9-63, seep. 60.
Bottani, Livio, Wilhelm Dilthey. Coscienza storica, coscienza metafisica ed
ermeneutica, Vercelli: Edizioni Mercurio 1994, seep. 46; p. 119; p. 142.
Ermarth, Michael, Wilhelm Dilthey: "The Critique of Historical Reason," Chicago
and London: University of Chicago Press 1978, p. 59.
Wilhelm Dilthey: Kierkegaard's Influence on Dilthey s Work
103
Gadamer, Hans-Georg, "Erinnerungen an Heideggers Anfange," Dilthey-Jahrbuch
for Philosophie und Geschichte der Geisteswissenschaften, vol. 4, 1986-87,
pp. 13-26, see p. 14.
Grondin, Jean, "Heideggers und Gadamers Konzeption der hermeneutischen
Wende der Philosophie. Ein Vergleich mit Blick auf Dilthey," in Dilthey und
die hermeneutische Wende in der Philosophie. Wirkungsgeschichtliche Aspekte
seines Werkes, ed. by Gudrun Kiihne-Bertram and Frithjof Rodi, Gottingen:
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2008, pp. 109-118, see p. 113.
Herrmann, Ulrich, "Vorbericht des Herausgebers. Einleitung zu den Biinden XV
his XVII," in Wilhelm Dilthey, Zur Geistesgeschichte des I9. Jahrhunderts, in
Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 15, p. XII.
HOfer, Josef, Vom Leben zur Wahrheit. Katholische Besinnung an der Lebens-
anschauung Wilhelm Dilthey, Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder & Co. 1936, p. 2;
p. 172.
Hoffman, Kurt, "The Basic Concepts of Jaspers' Philosophy," in The Philosophy of
Karl Jaspers, ed. by Paul Arthur Schilpp, New York: Tudor Publishing Company
1957, pp. 95-113, seep. 95; p. 100; pp. 101-2.
Hogrebe, Wolfram, Deutsche Philosophie im XIX Jahrhundert. Kritik der
idealistischen Vernun.ft. Schelling, Schleiermacher, Schopenhauer, Stirner,
Kierkegaard, Engels, Marx, Dilthey, Nietzsche, Munich: Wilhelm Fink 1987.
Jaspers, Karl, Philosophical Autobiography, in The Philosophy of Karl Jaspers, ed.
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seep. 18; p. 26.
Lawrence, Fred, "Gadamer, the Hermeneutic Revolution, and Theology," in The
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Makkreel, Rudolf A., Dilthey: Philosopher of the Human Studies, Princeton:
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World," pp. 305-42, seep. 328.
Malik, Habib C., Receiving Seren Kierkegaard: The Early Impact and Transmission
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Marini, Alfredo, Aile origini della filosofia contemporanea: Wilhelm Dilthey.
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Misch, Georg, Lebensphilosophie und Phiinomenologie. Eine Auseinandersetzung
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Scheler, Max, "Zusatze aus den Nachgelassenen Manuskripten," in Gesammelte
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ed. by von Manfred S. Frings, Bern, Munich: Francke, 1973, seep. 330.
Schulz, Heiko, "Germany and Austria: A Modest Head Start: The German Reception
of Kierkegaard," in Kierkegaard's International Reception, Tome I, Northern
and Western Europe, ed. by Jon Stewart, Aldershot: Ashgate 2009 (Kierkegaard
104 Elisabetta Basso
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p. 333.
Stegmaier, Werner, "Diltheys Beitrag zu einer Philosophie der Orientierung," in
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