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  • Verstehen basically means ‘thereness’, ‘openness to experience’, or ‘primordial comprehendability’.

    Archive 2009-07-01

  • Verstehen is seeing a hook-like object and reflexively and instantaneously imagining that you could use it to catch fish, or seeing a sharp-edged object and imagining without any internal discourse or deliberation that “I could kill and eat food with that”.

    Archive 2009-07-01

  • On the other hand, an understanding (Verstehen) in this subjective sense is not anchored in a non-cognitive empathy or intuitive appreciation that is arational by nature; it can gain objective validity when the meanings and values to be comprehended are explained causally, that is, as a means to an end.


  • Yet they nowadays favor the concept of understanding (Verstehen) and reject the earlier identification of understanding and empathy for two specific reasons.


  • At the beginning of the 20th century, empathy understood as a non-inferential and non-theoretical method of grasping the content of other minds became closely associated with the concept of understanding (Verstehen); a concept that was championed by the hermeneutic tradition of philosophy concerned with explicating the methods used in grasping the meaning and significance of texts, works of arts, and actions.


  • (Verstehen) for Dilthey is a process that employs all our capacities and is to be distinguished from pure intellectual understanding (Verstand).

    Wilhelm Dilthey

  • Verstehen! yahooBuzzArticleHeadline = 'You will vote the way we tell you to vote!

    You will vote the way we tell you to vote! Verstehen!

  • Whereas Droysen speaks of the method of the historian as “understanding by investigation” (forschendes Verstehen), Humboldt sets off historical understanding from mere deductive rational procedures by calling it an assimilation of the investigative capability (forschende Kraft) and the object under investigation (GS Vol 4, 39).

    Wilhelm von Humboldt

  • Verstehen may draw a line between philosophy and such natural sciences as chemistry and physics, but it will leave the social and human sciences on philosophy's side of the line.


  • In later hermeneutic writings Dilthey develops his famous triad of inner experience (Erlebnis), expression (Ausdruck), and understanding (Verstehen), now admitting that the range of introspection is very restricted and that understanding of ourselves and others mainly occurs via the understanding of the expressions of inner experience.

    Experience, Expression, & Understanding


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