R.G. Collingwood

Robin George Collingwood
1889-1945

books

Religion and Philosophy (1916)
Roman Britain (1923)
Speculum Mentis; or The Map of Knowledge (1924)
Outlines of a Philosophy of Art (1925)
The Archaeology of Roman Britain (1930)
An Essay on Philosophic Method (1933)
Roman Britain and the English Settlements (with J. N. L. Myres, 1936)
The Principles of Art (1938)
An Autobiography (1939)
The First Mate’s Log (1940)
An Essay on Metaphysics (1940)
The New Leviathan (1942)

The Idea of Nature (1945)
The Idea of History (1946)
Essays in the Philosophy of Art (1964)
Essays in the Philosophy of History (1965)
Essays in Political Philosophy (1989)
The Principles of History and Other Writings in Philosophy of History (2001)
The Philosophy of Enchantment: Studies in Folktale, Cultural Criticism, and Anthropology (2005)

further reading
Leo Strauss, On Collingwood’s Philosophy of History (28pp)
William M. Johnston, The Formative Years of R. G. Collingwood (1965)
Jan van der Dussen: History as a Science: The Philosophy of R. G. Collingwood (2012)

The deficiencies of Collingwood’s historiography can be traced to a fundamental dilemma. The same belief which forced him to attempt to become a historian of thought, prevented him from becoming a historian of thought. He was forced to attempt to become a historian of thought because he believed that to know the human mind is to know its history, or that self-knowledge is historical understanding. But this belief contradicts the tacit premise of all earlier thought, that premise being the view that to know the human mind is something fundamentally different from knowing the history of the human mind. Collingwood therefore rejected the thought of the past as untrue in the decisive respect. Hence he could not take that thought seriously, for to take a thought seriously means to regard it as possible that the thought in question is true. He therefore lacked the incentive for re-enacting the thought of the past: he did not re-enact the thought of the past. – Leo Strauss, On Collingwood’s Philosophy of History

[This example from Strauss’ essay seems to me to be wonderful writing – clear and true. And damning – for Collingwood, good and successful history re-enacts history (the thought of the past) in the historian’s mind.]

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