Dilthey, Wilhelm, "The Understanding of Other Persons and Their Life-Expressions" (1911)
How does Dilthey define the term, "life-expressions"? What types of expressions does he have in mind? (poetry, history, art, religion, culture in general)
What does he mean when he states that unlike clear facts or actions, "life-expressions" enable us to understand more than can be comprehended by introspection or theorizing?
Why do we need this understanding? (mere surface observation cannot enable us to know our fellow human beings or the range of human experiences more broadly; we can be lied to but life-expressions embody an actuality)
What is valuable about our temporal relation to life-expressions of the past? Why is it necessary to live the experience as though one were moving forward in time rather than retrospectively? (understanding reverses the course of events)
What examples does he give? (a non-religious person can experience the emotions of past religious persons, comprehending a realm of experience no longer directly available to him/her)
What does Dilthey mean by the "objective mind"? (shared definitions or ascriptions) Does this resemble what Lacan calls the Symbolic order? Do the two theorists place different values on this "objective," Symbolic realm? (Dilthey is neutral, Lacan finds it restrictive)
How can we know more about a work of art than its author? Does this suggest to you the views of later critics, e. g. the New Critics or the reader response theorists?
What does it mean to say that the individual is an object of absolute value, and what are the implications of such a statement? ("The objective mind and the power of the individual to interpret it together determine the world of mind. History rests on the understanding of these two.")
Why cannot we judge the "truth" of a work of art, but only its sincerity or insincerity? Could one object to any aspect of this claim? (It's possible that an author might modify his/her presentation in accord with perceived public taste, the wishes of a sovereign, etc., and it might still be a great work on art; on the other hand, Dilthey might simply respond that this was a sign of insincerity)
Does "understanding" extend to non-rational events? (yes, since life is irrational. beyond logical formulas)
Why is it important to examine original documents? (these are the life-expressions of the past; should not merely argue by induction)
What does he warn may be difficulties associated with arguments by analogy? What is needed, according to Dilthey, for the interpretation of a succession of words? (a sense of the structure of the whole of which they are a part)
Do these views seem to anticipate aspects of structuralist thought? How do his views differ from those of Kant (on art), or later structuralist or post-structuralist theorists on history such as Hayden White or Foucault?
What would have been some of the contributions of his ideas in their time?
--defended the process of interpretation and also its possibility
--developed a theory for how we experience literature--existential historicism
--explains the unique qualities of the social sciences and literature (esp. in a period when positivism and "scientism" gained favor)
What distinction does Dilthey make between meaning and value? What effect would this definition have on our methods of study? (events or objects have a value in the present but attain meaning when viewed retrospectively within a succession of events)