Methodology of the Sciences

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Patton, Lydia
preprint description
In the growing Prussian university system of the early nineteenth century, “Wissenschaft” (science) was seen as an endeavor common to university faculties, characterized by a rigorous methodology. On this view, history and jurisprudence are sciences, as much as is physics. Nineteenth century trends challenged this view: the increasing influence of materialist and positivist philosophies, profound changes in the relationships between university faculties, and the defense of Kant’s classification of the sciences by neo-Kantians. Wilhelm Dilthey’s defense of the independence of the methodology of the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) from those of the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) is as much a return to the ideal of Wissenschaft as a cooperative endeavor as it is a defense of the autonomy of interpretive or hermeneutic methods. The debate between Dilthey and the neo-Kantian Wilhelm Windelband at the close of the century illuminates the development of this dialogue over the nineteenth century.