Dilthey, Wilhelm (Christian Ludwig)
- Ian D. Bent
(b Biebrich, nr Wiesbaden, Nov 19, 1833; d Seis, nr Bozen [Bolzano], Oct 1, 1911). German philosopher and writer on music. He studied theology at Heidelberg for one year, then philosophy at the University of Berlin (Habilitation 1864), with the classical philologist P.A. Boeckh, the historian Leopold von Ranke and the philosopher F.A. Trendelenburg. He was professor of philosophy at the University of Basle (alongside Jakob Burkhardt, 1867–8), at Kiel (1868–71), Breslau (1871–82) and Berlin (1882–1905). Dilthey contributed to metaphysics, moral philosophy and the theory of knowledge; he wrote on the Renaissance, the Reformation, the German Enlightenment and German Idealism, and his studies of poetry influenced 20th-century literary criticism.
Whereas his writings on German composers and music are primarily of historical interest, his contributions to hermeneutics, including his essay ‘On Understanding Music’ (c1906), are highly significant for musicology. Moreover, the resistance to positivism in late 20th-century thought, not least in music, has its roots in Dilthey’s general philosophy, making it of compelling interest today....