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History as a Science: The Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood by Jan van der Dussen

By Jan van der Dussen

1. 1. COLLINGWOOD'S RECEPTION Collingwood's scholarly attractiveness is a sophisticated and variegated affair. For one has not just to make a' contrast among his acceptance in the course of his lifestyles and after his untimely demise in 1943, but in addition among his recognition as a thinker and as an archaeologist and historian. Collingwood himself thought of philosophy as his basic career and his paintings in archaeology and background as that of an beginner. This paintings, besides the fact that, reached the top criteria and his contributions to archaeology and historical past have continually been preferred therefore. even though Collingwood's acceptance because the major specialist on Roman Britain within the interval among the 2 wars is still unchallenged, sleek advancements during this box have necessarily outmoded his contributions and made them essentially voices from a previous interval. Philosophy was once the opposite 1/2 Collingwood's scholarly existence. In his personal pondering there has been constantly a detailed courting among philosophy and archaeological and histor ical perform. His interpreters haven't continually famous this connection. i've got met archaeologists who have been stunned to listen to that Collingwood used to be a thinker to boot, who both didn't comprehend that he were a working towards and philosophers archaeologist and historian, or idea it not more than a personal pastime. Collingwood's recognition as a thinker used to be very assorted from the only he won in archaeology and heritage. For within the philosophical weather at Oxford among the wars he was once consistently an remoted determine.

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Extra resources for History as a Science: The Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood

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It is important to notice in this connection that Collingwood distinguishes two definitions of philosophy, namely a dogmatic and a critical one. The first defines philosophy by reference to its object and is self-conscious thought about the way we are aware of a certain object. T he second is "the investigation by thought itself of the limitations of its capacity" (SM,254). Philosophy is defined in this case by reference to its method and regarded "as the self-liberation of thought from uncriticized assumptions" (SM,247).

Granted a training in historical methods, and equipment of historical scholarship, without which no one can fair ly judge, it is possible to take a particular problem, to study the solution of that problem advanced by a particular historian on a particular review of the evidence, and within the limits of this problem, as stated, to raise the question whether he has or has not proved his case. That question can be answered, by a competent scholar, with no more doubt than must attend any man's answer to any question that can be asked in any department of know ledge.

We will see that these shifts are closely related to each other and that Collingwood's special attention to the problems of the science of history is accompanied by an anti-realistic view. We have not discussed until now Collingwood's attitude towards realism. For a better understanding of his thinking about history this is necessary, however, especiaUy as, according to Collingwood himself, the questions were related. The topic of realism runs like a continuous thread through Collingwood's Autobiography, written in 1938 and published in 1939.

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