Thomas J. Spiegel
February 3, 2021
While Wittgenstein’s work has been extensively investigated in relation to many other important and influential philosophers, there is very little scholarly work that positively investigates the relationship between the work of Wittgenstein and Wilhelm Dilthey. To the contrary, some commentators like Hacker (2001a) suggest that Dilthey’s work (and that of other hermeneuticists) simply pales or is obsolete in comparison to Wittgenstein’s own insights. Against such assessments, this article posits that Wittgenstein’s and Dilthey’s thought most crucially intersects at the related topics of scientism on the one hand and scientific and philosophical method on the other. In reconstructing Dilthey’s conceptions of understanding versus explaining and central points of Wittgenstein’s Remarks on Frazer’s Golden Bough, it becomes apparent that they share a staunch rejection of scientism and use the notion of understanding as a means to prevent methodologies from the natural sciences encroaching onto the human sciences (in Dilthey’s case) and philosophy (in Wittgenstein’s case). Notwithstanding a number of central ways in which these thinkers differ, this article closes by suggesting that there is some evidence according to which Wittgenstein, like Dilthey, can reasonably be understood as championing some central tenets of the hermeneutical tradition.