Understanding and Explanation
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From Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought

Understanding and Explanation

A Transcendental-Pragmatic Perspective

By Thomas McCarthy and Suhrkamp Verlag





The explanation versus understanding debate was important to the philosophy of the social sciences from the time of Dilthey and Weber through the work of Popper and Hempel. In recent years, with the development of interpretive approaches in hermeneutics, phenomenology, and language analysis, the problematic has become absolutely central. The broad literature to which it has given rise, while still split along "analytic" versus "continental" lines, shows increasing signs of a reunification in philosophy. G. H. von Wright's important book, Explanation and Understanding, originally published in 1971, is a good example of this trend. In Understanding and Explanation, Karl-Otto Apel takes von Wright's work as a point of departure for a rigorous, penetrating analysis of the issues involved. After reviewing the failure of earlier discussions to resolve these issues, Apel develops his own approach in light of the turn from logico-semantic to pragmatic analysis of language in post-Wittgensteinian philosophy. In doing so, he constructs bridges that reach back to themes and positions of the German tradition of the Geisteswissenschaften, but from strikingly new angles.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262010795 320 pp. | 8.9 in x 5.9 in


$33.00 X | £26.00 ISBN: 9780262510417 320 pp. | 8.9 in x 5.9 in


  • Of special interest to the English-language audience is the opportunity to see familiar (and hotly disputed) issues of action theory and the philosophy of (social and natural) science reflected in a framework deeply embedded in the tradition(s) of Kant, Hegel, Max, Dilthey, Max Weber, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School.

    John Connolly