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2010 Философия. Психология. Социология Выпуск 4 (4)

УДК 14 (091)


J. Lozar

University of Ljubljana, Askerceva 2, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Republic of Slovenia

The article explores the possibilities of understanding the phenomenon of attunement from truth as representation, which is found in Wilhelm Dilthey’s descriptive psychology. It shows how truth as representation fails to come to grips with this phenomenon, which evades representational thinking and must therefore be thought from a different perspective.

Key words: Dilthey; Husserl; Nietzsche; attunement; representation; feeling

What are the reasons and motifs for my interpretation of Dilthey’s The Formation of the Historical World in the Human Sciences?.1 Firstly, it is occasioned by the fact that in 2003 Dilthey’s book was published in Slovene translation for the first time; that is almost a hundred years since its first publication. Secondly, Dilthey is deemed one of the fathers of philosophical hermeneutics; and last but not least, Dilthey’s systematic thought proves crucial for a researcher who investigates the field of phenomenology in the sense that he does not lose the basic framework of thought — especially after delving into Heidegger’s deconstruction. In studying Heidegger, one may simply loose his bearings, forget the basic framework of modern philosophy, especially because Heidegger reached far back to Pre-Socratic philosophy of Heraclitus and Parmenides in search of the solution of the modern crisis. This is actually the primary reason for my tackling Wilhelm Dilthey — as a masters of philosophy.

Wilhelm Dilthey is one of the thinkers who grounded hermeneutics. We thus read (1, 248): “After all, it is the very relationship between the depths of human nature and the universal nexus of the full scope of historical life that is at work at every point in history. This is the most basic con© J. Lozar, 2010

nection between life itself and history.” This of course implies that Dilthey’s (philosophical) life is also most basically connected with the history of philosophy. So let us relate to it more concretely, by introducing those philosophers who were his main forefathers: the greatest influence can be traced in Friedrich Schleiermacher, to whom Dilthey devoted a large part of his oeuvre, especially as regards his biography. And it is more than telling in this sense that Dilthey in this book — though his references to Schleiermacher are quite scarce — attributed the biography a distinctive role as the “most immediate expression of reflection on life”.

Far more time and space — both implicitly and explicitly — is given to Edmund Husserl. As is well known, Dilthey found Husserl helpful for the development of his descriptive psychology, which he ascribes an important role in the hermeneutic circle and intertwining of individual experience and historical human sciences. A careful reader may readily discover several direct references to Husserl’s descriptive phenomenology, as is found for example in his On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time (1893-1917)2 In

1 Wilhelm Dilthey, The Formation of the Historical World in the Human Sciences, Princeton University Press, New Jersey 2002.

2 Edmund Husserl, On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht/Boston/London 1991.

one of the footnotes we actually find Dilthey express gratitude to Husserl’s contribution. Husser-lian is Dilthey’s description of the three main attitudes. Even more important in Dilthey’s description of sense perception is the distinction between original presentation (Gegenwärtigung) and representation (Vergegenwärtigung) (1, 50). And his employment of retention as Abschattung (1, 149): Object perception is originally embedded in time, explicitly stating that the object of perception is originally a time-object, a memory image. Not to mention Husserl’s famous method of epoche, the bracketing out of the existence of objects of perception, cognition or imagination, concentrating rather on the “how” of their givenness and original evidence (1, 32).

So far so good, but we have to add that there are passages where Dilthey cannot keep up with Husserl’s transcendentalism (1, 33): by re-

acknowledging the thing in itself as the background of the thing for us (das Ding an sich/ die Sache selbst), he is a weak transcendentalist, like Brentano, whom Husserl criticized for his claim that intentionality is only a relative predicate of cognition. Only if an act of perception of cognition relates to a real thing in the outer world is the act intentional. Husserl well knows that intentionality is the basic feature as the inner essence of the very consciousness, and not some attribute.

If in descriptive psychology the main addressee is Husserl, then in the historical sphere of human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) the addressee is Hegel. In understanding the relationship between Dilthey and Hegel we shall introduce an analogy: the relationship between Kant and pre-Kantian metaphysics, and Nietzsche’s outlook on Kant: where is the analogy? Kant as the critic of metaphysical things in themselves, despite the epistemological strictness, still remains within the horizon of the same metaphysics, though only in the (modal) manner of “as it should be”. Even though he forbids to think the things in themselves, he does remain rooted in Sollen, as we learn from

his postulates in the Critique of Practical Reason, in the same horizon of rational ideals: Immortality, God, Soul.

The same can be said about Dilthey: a short passage on page 294 can be the grist to the mill of our analogy (1, 294): “The possibility of getting closer to objective universal history rests on the mutual interdependence of knowledge, goals and meaning”. Of course Dilthey’s starting point is pronouncedly the concrete interdependence of life and history, which cannot be said of Hegel; for him, the objective spirit is just a crossing between absolute and subjective spirit and therefore only a manifestation of the absolute spirit. But still: what is the possibility of getting closer to the objective universal history? Is not his position to Hegel the same as is Kant’s position to the metaphysics of things in themselves? (1, 167): “The objective spirit cannot be set within the order of ideal construction; on the contrary, we have to ground its concreteness in history”. The key to understanding the relationship between Dilthey and Hegel lies in the phrase “on the contrary”. We could say that this is an inversion of perspective within one and the same horizon.

Descriptive psychology and human sciences

Dilthey understands his project as the grounding of human sciences in descriptive psychology. So let us first pay attention to his description of psychic, mental sphere. This, however, can only be done by means of “investigating individual manners of attitude (Haltungen)” (1, 35). Here again Dilthey employs the phenomenological method of epoche. In experiencing our perceptions, judgments, opinions, denials, affirmations, we have to redirect our attention from the objects and their whatness (quidditas) to the “how” of our directedness; i.e. from the field of noema to the manners of noesis, in which noema is given. Dilthey discerns three main classes of directedness or attitude:

1. Attitude of feeling

2. Attitude of willing

3. Attitude of object apprehension

All three attitudes are intertwined in an interdependence of the experience. However, we should immediately say that the fundamental attitude of all three classes is the attitude of object apprehension. Only on the ground of this attitude, an accompanying feeling or willing are possible (1, 66): “The relationship between the subjective and objective object world is the objective ground or our feeling as well as our willing”.

Since every experience occurs in time, it is always an experience of something past as remembered. This understanding is always temporal or historical. And this moment of temporal understanding is where the possibility of human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) is given. Clearly, human sciences themselves are genuinely temporal as well. They are historical, since every epoch has its limit in the life horizon. Both the experience and the historical context, understood in their mutual interdependence, find themselves within this time limit, “in a certain time in view of its thinking, feeling and willing” (1, 194).

If we concentrate on the sphere of human sciences, we are obliged to speak about the mutual interdependence. This, however, is experienced differently from that of the natural sciences. In several passages, Dilthey more or less clearly distinguishes between human and natural sciences, the main criterion being the hermeneutic character, which belongs to a far greater extent to human sciences (1, 136 and 175). In articulating the difference, Dilthey makes use of the category of causality, saying that both sciences differ primarily regarding the exactness of the principle of causality. In natural sciences, the cause is always adequate to the effect (aequat causa effectum.) Every cause must be fully embodied in the effect, if we want our hypothesis to become a subject of repetitive experiments bearing the same results. Verification is namely the very touchstone of positive scientific truth.

However, because understanding in human sciences is entwined in the actual experience, the

causal scheme loses its exactness as well as the verification and measurability of the natural sciences. If the natural scientist, i.e. the astronomer claims a volcanic activity of one of the Jupiter’s moons brings about changes in the atmosphere, which are very similar to those on the planet Earth 3 billion years ago, which means that there are perfect conditions for the origin of life on that moon

— he can verify that claim by taking successive photographs of the surface. Here, the cause (the eruption) is fully adequate to the effect (change in the atmosphere, possibility of life). The causal connection rests on the accordance, but the spectator with his subjectivity is kept well outside the scientific truth.

What proof do we have that in human sciences the causa adequate effectum doesn’t hold water? New knowledge as understanding refers back to man and his life experience. However, this discovery of the moon’s volcanic activity as a cause of new possibilities for man doesn’t exhaust itself fully in the effect of experiencing this discovery. If so, the entire humanity would, in accordance with the perfect effectuating of natural sciences, once and for all become fully aware of the new horizon of possibilities: of traveling to the distant moon, of the possible inhabitance, life in space, the solution to the ecologic catastrophe, etc. Even more, it would not only be a potentiality, but rather a new actuality. However, the proof that this simply isn’t the case is evinced by our experience. In human sciences, truth/knowledge is not grounded in the firm and unbreakable cause-effect relation, but in other principles and categories. Thus Dilthey introduces notions such as meaning, relation, development, goal, value.

So much about the effectuating of the positive discovery of the natural science on the human being as the rational being of experience; things are of course even more complicated within the sphere of human sciences, where we are facing the effectuating of ideas, beliefs, opinions, feelings, willing, yearning, etc. In human sciences, “knowledge is

not placed under the phenomena” (1, 136), but is drawn back into human life. This is why we cannot reduce the historicity of human sciences to a calculable and verifiable causal scheme. To introduce another caricature: if the adequate causal connection were possible, every interpretation as such would be impossible in advance. All that would refer to a certain text or knowledge would be but a perfect copy of the original. Human world would be totally subordinated to the law of identity, adequate causality and mechanics (Kant’s automaton materiale). Or even more grotesquely, if Jesus were the cause of the experience of love in terms of natural sciences, then the effect would be the amorisation totale (Teilhard de Chardin). If he were the Highest and Primal Cause adequate to the Effect, as in natural sciences. The truth no doubt tells us otherwise.

What then is the human sciences’ field of humanity? “We open up to the possibility that sense and meaning come about only in man and his history. Not, however, in a single man but in a historical man. Man is namely a historical being.” (1, 316)

If man is a historical being, then it is also the spirit and human sciences that are set within the sphere of the mutual interdependence, together with thinking, feeling and willing. The effectuating interdependence (bewirkende Abhängigkeit) between life and history, experience and understanding reveal the importance of a crosspoint. Let us follow Dilthey in this sense to at least point at the possibility of a different life horizon, to a possibility of a new epoch — almost a hundred years after his formation of historical world.

Dilthey concentrates the effectuating interdependence of life and history around a point in time (1, 271): “General movements pass through the individual as through its crosspoint. What is this crosspoint, in which human subjective experiencing, tradition and historicity open up in their mutual possibility? Dilthey’s answer is Husserlian, referring to the phenomenologically crucial field re-

search — the phenomenon of time. (1, 212): “Presence is never there. What we experience as the present includes in advance memory of what has just been present.” And a few lines further (1, 213): “The presence of things past substitutes the immediate experiencing.” In more rough terms, intention is always woven in the shadowing (Abschattung) in the past (retention) and as intuitive expectance of the forthcoming into the future (protention). Representation of an object in time is therefore always woven into the original interdependence of passing, lasting and coming forth. What is woven into the present moment is therefore memory and expectance.

A clear example which clarifies this point is the interpretation of the text. When we read a text, the meaning of the sentence is not preserved as an independent, isolated unit in the pure now, but rather in the interdependence with the previous sentence and the anticipation of the meaning of the next one. The meaning of the sentence is woven into the memory of the meaning of the previous sentence and the expectation of the meaning of the next sentence. The intention of reading is already intertwined with the retention of what has just been read and the protention of what will have been read. Only because the process of reading is structured this way, can there be such a thing as surprise, or a shift in meaning which astonishes.

We put the book aside and return to what has been read in memory. However, even on the ground of representation (Vergegenwärtigung), there is no such thing as the non-temporal ground of universality; because there are a number of interpretations as representations of the same text. Representation is therefore woven into time as a historical phenomenon. The interdependence between original intention, retention and protention of the original presentation can also be found on the level of representation as the interdependence of previous interpretations, receptions, the present interpretation and the possibility of a different explanation. The reader as the interpreter is set in the

mediated history of the meaning of the text. And not only this: the original presentation and representation, which are both temporal, are intertwined as well. In short, man is a historical representing being of original presentation. But both presentation and representation are out of joint of the absolute present moment.

In order to draw closer to the possibility of a different conception of the humanity, we first have to determine the truth of Diltheyan humanity. The possibility is entangled in the hermeneutic circle. What is in Dilthey the ground which grounds man in both the psychological, experiential as well as in terms of human sciences? Dilthey himself provides the answer (1, 143/44): “The explanation of the given through elementary intellectual activities [...] can be subsumed under the broader concept of representation”. The key name for Dilthey’s human science is representation. And since human sciences are grounded in psychology, we can expect the same for the experiential sphere. That this is actually is evinced in the fact that in basic modes of attitude the first place is reserved for the attitude of object perception. (1, 65): “Acts of object perception are the underlying basis of the attitude of feeling. The underlying basis of willing is object perception”.

What can thus be said about the possibility of a different understanding of man, which in Dilthey is grasped as a being of representation, as the subject of representation? Because (1, 60) “the entire psychology of object perception is grounded in the concept of representation”, and “its goal is to explain this concept”, the human being as animal rationale experiences the attitude of feeling only as its inner border, he pushes it aside as 1) accompanying, collateral event of the object perception (1, 72): the condition and basis of feeling is a random process of object perception (1, 85): The lowest structure of intentionality lies within the fact that the object which appears or is remembered, incites a response of a feeling”.

This is exactly the crosspoint, where this interpretation of Dilthey includes a new perspective into the interdependence of history and life. Of course, after a hundred years I am far from being the only one who has delved into this matter. This enormous task — enormous because representation as the blood has run through the veins of the modern reason for more than 400 years! — has been powerfully undertaken by Martin Heidegger. I don’t want to make this paper a tedious event, so allow me to put things more roughly and shortly.

The fundamental event in the nature of man as the rational animal, which is pretty much alive today, is the ontological affirmation — in Dilthey’s words — of the attitude of feeling. In the metaphysics of subjectivity, this sphere of humanity has been given but little attention, pushing it to the margins of existence as the accompanying, secondary process. One guilty party for this is also Dilthey’s descriptive psychology, discovering within the sphere of the attitude of feeling only the oppositional principle of pleasure and displeasure. Dilthey’s awkwardness and embarrassment in these matters is clearly detectable in the following words (1, 36): “There are states or conditions which don’t involve any inner relations between the act and the object.” And then the footnote (1, 36): “The purpose of these sentences is only to exclude extremely heavy questions which arise in the attempt to include these facts into the concept of attitude.” This is not only Dilthey’s personal embarrassment; this is the embarrassment of the ob-jectivist representational attitude, which experiences the non-objectivity and non-representability of the attitude of feeling. This is why Dilthey quickly, after only five pages, skips this tricky subject matter only to dive into safer waters of object perception, saying (1, 65): “Acts of object perception are the ground of feeling.”

However, it is exactly these five pages that conceal an astonishing wealth of new possibilities of descriptive psychology as well as human sciences, since, as Dilthey puts it, what we need to do

is ground human sciences in experiential psychology. Dilthey gives an example which clearly reveals the relationship (in Dilthey’s view, of course) between the attitudes of object perception and feeling (1, 156): “I lie awake at night, and I worry whether at my age I will be able to finish the works I started long ago, and a thought revolves in my head what should be done. This experience reveals the structural interdependence of consciousness: the object perception is its ground basis, and on it rests my attitude of care and worry for my circumstances.”

After reading, say, Heidegger’s Being and Time, how easily one can think of an example which proves quite the opposite: that it is the attitude of feeling of care, or anxiety, which first opens up the possibility of the subject-object relationship. Only because we care dearly for our Being, are we in the attitude of object perception as understanding. We are able to understand the entirety of beings in their being precisely because we are first thrown into the nothingness of beings in anxiety. We are opened up in the openness of the world as the world horizon first and foremost in feeling, or more accurately, in attunement.

What can be gained by opening up and reconsidering this seemingly self-evident sphere of the attunement?

We hereby do not do away with the attitude of object perception, we don’t reject reason in favor of feelings or anything like this. What the articulation of the sphere of attunement reveals is the inner limit of reason as its inner measure. It is a tale of the inner nature of reason, which has to be grounded in attunement. The attunement of reason is the nature of physis. It rises in disclosure and falls in closure, be it in the manner of distress of simply plain fatigue.

It is fruitful to bear in mind here Nietzsche’s thought found in paragraph 500 of The Will to Power (3, 345): “Using high and low tides. For the purpose of knowledge, one must know how to use that inner current that draws us to a thing, and then

the one that, after a time, draws us away from it.”’ Perhaps the most important passage for our treatise can be found in his Gay Science, in paragraph 42, where we read (5, 178): “For thinkers and all sensitive spirits, boredom is that disagreeable "windless calm" of the soul that precedes a happy voyage and cheerful winds. They have to bear it and must wait for its effect on them. Precisely this is what lesser natures cannot achieve by any means. To ward off boredom at any cost is vulgar, no less than work without pleasure.” And last but not least, a quotation from Thus Spoke Zarathustra (4, 156): “The soul most self-loving, in which all things have their current and counter-current, their ebb and their flow.”

What is this “windless calm of the soul, this ebb and flow” in Nietzsche, or the self-revealing and self-concealing in the clearing of being in Heidegger? What does it mean that Nietzsche and Heidegger want us to be in tune (attunement!) with either the ebb and flow of being or the presencing and absencing of being?

The thinking of the attitude of attunement reveals this genuine movement of reason from dis-closedness, evidence, clear grasping of meaning, back to closedness, non-evidence, losing the deeper meaning. And last but not least, this movement lies not in the hands of man. In short, it is about the education of reason.

The second aspect is the rehabilitation of everydayness, which — unlike in early Heidegger

— isn’t something non-genuine (uneigentlich) but rather belongs to the very nature of reason as the closure of attunement.

And last but not least: ethics. Being attentive to the attunement of the fellow creature, you don’t go shooting at him with athletic Hegelianism and powerful work of the concept, if he is in a bad mood, or absent-minded, and particularly if he talks you about his feelings for his loved ones, for his country, family, the memory of the dead ... This is where a new ethics is possible. Ethics is not (solely) the work of dialectical reason. Rather, it is

the matter of attentive care and openness to the at-tunement of the reason of the other.


1. Wilhelm Dilthey. The Formation of the Historical World in the Human Sciences. Princeton University Press. New Jersey, 2002.

2. Edmund Husserl. On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht/Boston/London, 1991.

3. Friedrich Nietzsche. The Will to Power, Vintage

Books. New York, 1968.

4. Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Penguin, London, 2003.

5. Friedrich Nietzsche. The Gay Science. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001.

6. Martin Heidegger. Being and Time. Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1973.

7. Immanuel Kant. Critique of Practical Reason. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 1997


Я. Лозар

Университет Любляны, 1000 Любляна, Республика Словения

В статье рассматриваются возможности понимания феномена настроения с позиции определения истины как представления в контексте описательной психологии Вильгельма Дильтея. Показано, что учение об истине как представлении не способно «схватить» феномен настроения, ускользающий от репрезентирующего мышления, и, как следствие, этот феномен должен быть осмыслен в иной перспективе.

Ключевые слова: Дильтей; Гуссерль; Ницше; настроение; представление; чувство