Erlebnis (lived experience) and Verstehen (understanding)

It is through Dilthey that the young Heidegger in his early academic career at Freiburg grasped the connection between hermeneutics and lived experience. In 1923, four years before the publication of Being and time, Heidegger, through the leitmotif of “ontology of facticity”, describes Dasein as human understanding in the mode of “being in” – thus signifying an important turning away from both natural science and traditional metaphysics in the way philosophy can and will be done. Instead of being able to be reduced to either, philosophy, as an intellectual enquiry into “being in”, stands its own ground as the primordial questioning of the what, the who, the how and the when of the “innerwordliness” (Innerweltlichkeit) of being: the individuated “content” of Dasein as being-in-the-world, which is temporalised as being-towards-death and bears the common name of “lived experience”. Experience is ontology – and that provides the ground for the separation of Verstehen and Erklären that Dilthey importantly made to engender the historical possibility of a philosophical hermeneutics.

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