About this topic

Robin George Collingwood (1889-1943) was both a British philosopher and a practising historian specialized in the archaeology and history of Roman Britain. His most important contributions to philosophy were on philosophy of history and on aesthetics. In both these areas R. G. Collingwood's reflection was based on his own experience as a historian and as an artist respectively, although only in the first field he was a first class figure. As a philosopher of history, he defended the superiority of history as a form of knowledge with respect to natural sciences, and its methodological independence from them. As a philosopher of art, he understood art as the expression of emotion in the language of imagination. He also made top contributions in meta-philosophy, metaphysics and political philosophy. Collingwood is usually considered to be a British Idealist, although such categorization is polemic because he himself denied it in different places.

Key works

Collingwood's first important work was published in 1924. Its title was Speculum Mentis (Or the Map of Knowledge), and can be considered as his first systematic attempt at describing our complete experience of the world. A year later, he published Outlines of a Philosophy of Art (1925), where he proposed to consider art as an imaginative activity that attempts to achieve beauty and by which we enjoy it. From here he moved on to the consideration of the place and methodology of philosophy as a distinct form of knowledge in An Essay on Philosophical Method, published in 1933 (and reedited in 2000). Five years later, in 1938, he returned once again to the philosophy of art, in The Principles of Art, where he substantially revised and expanded his original definition of art, considering it now as the expression of emotion in the language of imagination. Around this time, Collingwood was conscious of the seriousness of the illness that would end his life, and published An Autobiography in 1939 as his philosophical testament. In the last years of his life, he managed to prepare and publish An Essay on Metaphysics (1940) where he considered Metaphysics to be the study of absolute presuppositions and not the study of being; and The New Leviathan (1942) which is more than a contribution to the war effort, as Collingwood himself considered it, and can be better viewed both as a complete summary of more than twenty years of philosophical work, and as his last attempt at providing a coherent explanation of mankind (individual, society, civilization and barbarism). Finally and although Collingwood's reflection on the philosophy of history was a constant throughout his life, he didn't publish any major work during it and his views are scattered in many articles. Following his own plans but after his death and both from the materials he published and from the ones he left unpublished, his ideas on the subject can be studied in The Idea of History, Essays on the Philosophy of History, and The Principles of History.

Introductions - Collingwood's entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2010). - TAYLOR, D.S.: R. G. Collingwood--A Bibliography: The Complete Manuscripts and Publications, Selected Secondary Writings, with Selective Annotation Garland (1988). - TOMLIN, E.W.F.: R. G. Collingwood (1961). - JOHNSON, P., R. G. Collingwood: An Introduction (1998).
Related categories

658 found
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  1. added 2018-03-13
    Collingwood's Reform of Metaphysics.D. Ilodigwe - 2015 - Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 21 (1):25-61.
    Collingwood wrote at a time when positivism was the dominant philosophical influence in British philosophy. Central to Collingwood's philosophical project was the task of rehabilitation of metaphysics against the backdrop of the positivistic deconstruction of metaphysics. Collingwood's defence of metaphysics is much nuanced in the sense that while Collingwood does not sympathize with the grandiose conception of metaphysics associated with traditional metaphysics he is nonetheless keen to argue for the possibility of metaphysics in some form by reconceptualising metaphysics as a (...)
  2. added 2018-01-23
    The Philosophy of Enchantment: Studies in Folktale, Cultural Criticism, and Anthropology.David Boucher, Wendy James & Philip Smallwood (eds.) - 2004 - Clarendon Press.
    This is the long-awaited publication of a set of writings by the British philosopher, historian, and archaeologist R.G. Collingwood on critical, anthropological, and cultural themes only hinted at in his previously available work. At the core are six essays on folktale and magic in which Collingwood applies the principles of his philosophy of history to problems in the long-term evolution of human society and culture. The volume opens with three substantial introductory essays by the editors, authorities in their various fields, (...)
  3. added 2017-02-15
    The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain. [REVIEW]Mark Hall - 1995 - The Medieval Review 1.
  4. added 2017-02-09
    Map of Roman Britain (16 Miles to 1 Inch). Second Edition. Ordnance Survey. 1928. 4s. Net.J. A. Petch - 1929 - The Classical Review 43 (02):92-.
  5. added 2017-02-08
    Oakeshott’s Wise Defense: Christianity as A Civilization.Corey Abel - 2011 - In The Meanings of Michael Oakeshott's Christianity.
    This paper for the first time reveals Oakeshott' early interest in writing a work of Christian apology. This "apology" was conceived in accordance with Oakeshott's religious modernism. Since Oakeshott never completed a formal apology, the author explores some early essays in which parts of the apologetic project are reflected, and then goes on to race the religious themes present in many of Oakeshott's published work. In conclusion, it is suggested that Oakeshott maybe understood as offering a concept of civilization that (...)
  6. added 2017-02-02
    Plato's Theory of Ideas: An Introduction to Idealism.Paul Natorp - 2004 - Academia.
  7. added 2017-01-17
    11. A New Leviathan Among the Idealists: R.G. Collingwood and the Legacy of Idealism.James Connelly - 2005 - In William Sweet (ed.), Bernard Bosanquet and the Legacy of British Idealism. University of Toronto Press. pp. 247-266.
  8. added 2017-01-17
    The Social and Political Thought of R. G. Collingwood.David Boucher - 2003 - Cambridge University Press.
    This is the first comprehensive study of the political philosophy of the British philosopher R. G. Collingwood, best known for his contributions to aesthetics and the philosophy of history. However his political thought, and in particular his book The New Leviathan, have been neglected, even dismissed in some quarters. Professor Boucher argues for the importance of this political theory and provides a perspicuous account of its development and originality. He contends that The New Leviathan is an attempt to reconcile philosophy (...)
  9. added 2017-01-17
    The Social and Political Thought of R. G. Collingwood.Matti Häyry - 1994 - Idealistic Studies 24 (3):283-285.
  10. added 2017-01-17
    The New Leviathan: Or Man, Society, Civilization, and Barbarism.R. G. Collingwood - 1992 - Clarendon Press.
    The New Leviathan, originally published in 1942, a few months before the author's death, is the book which R. G. Collingwood chose to write in preference to completing his life's work on the philosophy of history. It was a reaction to the Second World War and the threat which Nazism and Fascism constituted to civilization. The book draws upon many years of work in moral and political philosophy and attempts to establish the multiple and complex connections between the levels of (...)
  11. added 2017-01-17
    Collingwood: Science Versus Ethics.Suzanne Stern-Gillet - 1983 - der 16. Weltkongress Für Philosophie 2:1282-1289.
    Is scientific reasoning the standard of rationality? Can historical explanation be reduced to the scientific mode of reasoning? R.G. Collingwood answered both questions negatively. He further attempted to show that the types of justification used to account for moral actions are closely similar to historical explanations. His ethics has thus a strong historicist and relativistio flavour. Hie aim of my paper is to state Collingwood's ethical views and to show that the "ethical judgment", which inevitably relies on rules, cannot be (...)
  12. added 2017-01-17
    The Later Philosophy of R. G. Collingwood.W. H. Walsh & Alan Donagan - 1965 - Philosophical Review 74 (1):119.
  13. added 2017-01-15
    Does “I Know” Tolerate Metaphysical Emphasis?Guido Vanheeswijck - 2015 - Review of Metaphysics 69 (2):317-346.
    A number of articles have highlighted the resemblances between Collingwood’s and Wittgenstein’s positions in the domains of philosophy of language, anthropology, and logic. The introduction of this essay recalls some aspects of these resem­blan­ces. However, the main difference between the two philosophers con­sists in their attitudes toward metap­hysics. Whereas Wittgenstein’s thesis in On Certainty is that “I know” does not tolerate metaphysical emphasis, Collingwood claims in An Essay on Metaphysics that it is the specific task of metaphysics to articulate our (...)
  14. added 2017-01-15
    Collingwood and ‘Art Proper’: From Idealism to Consistency.Damla Dönmez - 2015 - Estetika 52 (2):152-163.
    Collingwood’s ‘art-proper’ definition has been controversial. Wollheim argues that his Theory of Imagination assumes that the nature of the artwork exists solely in the mind, committing him to the Ideal Theory. Consequently, when Collingwood states that the audience is essential for the artist and the artwork, he is being inconsistent. In contrast, Ridley claims that Collingwood’s Expression Theory saves him from Wollheim’s accusations; hence he is consistent and does not support the Ideal Theory. I demonstrate that Collingwood both adheres to (...)
  15. added 2017-01-15
    British Idealist Aesthetics, Collingwood, Wollheim, And The Origins Of Analytic Aesthetics.Chinatsu Kobayashi - 2008 - The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 4.
    Although Great Britain is the country of some of the earliest contributors to aesthetics as an independent philosophical discipline the subject attracted little interest in philosophical circles towards the turn of the twentieth century. In this paper, I shall focus on Bosanquet and Collingwood. In particular, as we shall see, Collingwood is often dismissed as having held an indefensible, outmoded ‘ideal’ theory, according to which the work of art is primarily ‘mental’, while his potential role in current debates is simply (...)
  16. added 2017-01-15
    An Essay on Philosophical Method.James Connelly & Giuseppina D'Oro (eds.) - 2005 - Clarendon Press.
    James Connelly and Giuseppina D'Oro present a new edition of R. G. Collingwood's classic work of 1933, supplementing the original text with important related writings from Collingwood's manuscripts which appear here for the first time. The editors also contribute a substantial new introduction. The volume will be welcomed by all historians of twentieth-century philosophy.
  17. added 2017-01-15
    8. Croce and Collingwood: Philosophy and History.Myra Moss - 1999 - In Massimo Verdicchio, Dain A. Trafton & Jack D'Amico (eds.), The Legacy of Benedetto Croce: Contemporary Critical Views. University of Toronto Press. pp. 145-162.
  18. added 2017-01-15
    Self-Creation and History: Collingwood and Nietzsche on Conceptual Change.Michael Hinz - 1993 - University Press of America.
    In Self-Creation and History, Michael Hinz focuses on the works of Collingwood and Nietzsche, showing how each construes traditional problems in metaphysics as problems generated in history and through conceptual change.
  19. added 2017-01-15
    Collingwood and Wittgenstein on the Task of Philosophy. Martin - 1981 - Philosophy Today 25 (1):12-23.
  20. added 2017-01-14
    Historical Thinking in Clinical Medicine: Lessons From R.G. Collingwood's Philosophy of History.Benjamin H. Chin-Yee & Ross E. G. Upshur - 2015 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 21 (3):448-454.
  21. added 2017-01-14
    TWENTY-FOUR. An Essay on Collingwood.BernardHG Williams - 2009 - In The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy. Princeton University Press. pp. 341-358.
  22. added 2017-01-14
    An Essay on Philosophical Method.R. G. Collingwood - 2008 - Oxford University Press UK.
    James Connelly and Giuseppina D'Oro present a new edition of R. G. Collingwood's classic work of 1933, supplementing the original text with important related writings from Collingwood's manuscripts which appear here for the first time. The editors also contribute a substantial new introduction. The volume will be welcomed by all historians of twentieth-century philosophy.
  23. added 2017-01-14
    An Essay on Metaphysics: Revised Edition with Introduction and Additional Material.Rex Martin (ed.) - 2002 - Clarendon Press.
    An Essay on Metaphysics is one of the finest works of the great Oxford philosopher R. G. Collingwood : in it he considers the nature of philosophy, especially of metaphysics, and puts forward his original and influential theories of absolute presuppositions, causation, and the logic of question and answer. Three fascinating unpublished pieces by Collingwood have been added for this revised edition: they illuminate and amplify the ideas of the Essay, to which they are closely related. The editor Rex Martin (...)
  24. added 2017-01-14
    Collingwood and the Metaphysics of Experience.Giuseppina D'Oro - 2002 - Routledge.
    Giuseppina D'Oro explores Collingwood's work in epistemology and metaphysics, uncovering his importance beyond his better known work in philosophy of history and aesthetics. This major contribution to our understanding of one of the most important figures in history of philosophy will be essential reading for scholars of Collingwood and all students of metaphysics and the history of philosophy.
  25. added 2017-01-14
    The Principles of History: And Other Writings in Philosophy of History.R. G. Collingwood - 2001 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Published here for the first time in paperback is much of a final and long-anticipated work on philosophy of history by the renowned Oxford philosopher, historian, and archaeologist R. G. Collingwood. The original text of this uncompleted work was only recently discovered in the archives of Oxford University Press. Also found there were two conclusions written by Collingwood for lectures which were eventually revised and published as The Idea of Nature, but which have relevance to his philosophy of history as (...)
  26. added 2017-01-14
    The Principles of History: And Other Writings in Philosophy of History.W. J. Van der Dussen (ed.) - 1999 - Clarendon Press.
    Published here in paperback for the first time is much of a final and long-anticipated work by R. G. Collingwood on philosophy of history, of which subject he was the greatest exponent in the English language. The original text of this work was only recently discovered. It is accompanied by shorter unpublished writings by Collingwood on historical knowledge and inquiry. A lengthy editorial introduction sets these writings in their context, and discusses philosophical questions to which they give rise.
  27. added 2017-01-14
    History as Re-Enactment: R. G. Collingwood's Idea of History.William H. Dray - 1996 - Oxford University Press UK.
    A central motif of R. G. Collingwood's philosophy of history is the idea that historical understanding requires a re-enactment of past experience. However, there have been sharp disagreements about the acceptability of this idea, and even its meaning. This book aims to advance the critical discussion in three ways: by analysing the idea itself further, concentrating especially on the contrast which Collingwood drew between it and scientific understanding; by exploring the limits of its applicability to what historians ordinarily consider their (...)
  28. added 2017-01-14
    The New Leviathan: Or Man, Society, Civilization, and Barbarism Goodness, Rightness, Utility' and What Civilization Means.R. G. Collingwood - 1992 - Oxford University Press UK.
    The New Leviathan, originally published in 1942, a few months before the author's death, is the book which R. G. Collingwood chose to write in preference to completing his life's work on the philosophy of history. It was a reaction to the Second World War and the threat which Nazism and Fascism constituted to civilization. The book draws upon many years of work in moral and political philosophy and attempts to establish the multiple and complex connections between the levels of (...)
  29. added 2017-01-14
    The Later Philosophy of R. G. Collingwood. [REVIEW]Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1964 - Journal of Philosophy 61 (24):784-786.
  30. added 2017-01-14
    An Essay on Metaphysics.R. G. Collingwood - 1940 - Oxford University Press UK.
    An Essay on Metaphysics is one of the finest works of the great Oxford philosopher, historian, and archaeologist R. G. Collingwood. First published in 1940, it is a broad-ranging work in which Collingwood considers the nature of philosophy, especially of metaphysics. He puts forward his well-known doctrine of absolute presuppositions, expounds a logic of question and answer, and gives an original and influential account of causation. The book has been widely read and much discussed ever since. In this revised edition (...)
  31. added 2016-12-30
    To School with the Poets: Philosophy, Method and Clarity.Smith Richard - 2008 - Paedagogica Historica 44:635-645.
    There is a longstanding difficulty in distinguishing philosophy (and philosophy of education) from other kinds of writing. Even the notions of clarity and rigour, sometimes claimed as central and defining characteristics of philosophy at its best, turn out to have ineliminably figurative elements, and accounts of philosophical method often display the very rhetoricity that they describe philosophy as concerned to avoid. It is tempting to wonder how far notions of philosophy as austere and analytic are responsible for ideals of educational (...)
  32. added 2016-12-08
    Categories of Historical Thought.Luke O'Sullivan - 2008 - Philosophia 36 (4):429-452.
    This paper argues that the identity of history as a discipline derives from its distinctive combination of intellectual assumptions, or categories. Many of these categories are shared with other fields of thought, including science, literature, and common sense, but in history are understood in a unique way. This paper first examines the general notion of categories of historical understanding, then scrutinises some of the specific categories suggested by classic authors on the philosophy of history such as Dilthey and Collingwood. More (...)
  33. added 2016-12-08
    The Ontological Backlash: Why Did Mainstream Analytic Philosophy Lose Interest in the Philosophy of History?Giuseppina D'Oro - 2008 - Philosophia 36 (4):403-415.
    This paper seeks to explain why mainstream analytic philosophy lost interest in the philosophy of history. It suggests that the reasons why the philosophy of history no longer commands the attention of mainstream analytical philosophy may be explained by the success of an ontological backlash against the linguistic turn and a view of philosophy as a form of conceptual analysis. In brief I argue that in the 1950s and 1960s the philosophy of history attracted the interest of mainstream analytical philosophers (...)
  34. added 2016-12-08
    Rethinking R.G. Collingwood: Philosophy, Politics and the Unity of Theory and Practice.James Connelly - 2006 - Contemporary Political Theory 5 (2):215-217.
  35. added 2016-12-08
    Autobiography as Philosophy: The Philosophical Uses of Self-Presentation.Thomas Mathien & D. G. Wright (eds.) - 2006 - Routledge.
    Most philosophical writing is impersonal and argumentative, but many important philosophers have nevertheless written accounts of their own lives. Filling a gap in the market for a text focusing on autobiography as philosophy, this collection discusses several such autobiographies in the light of their authors' broader work, and considers whether there are any philosophical tasks for which life accounts are particularly appropriate. Instead of the common impersonal and argumentative forms of ordinary philosophical discussion, these autobiographical texts are deeply personal and (...)
  36. added 2016-12-08
    Metaphysics, Method and Politics: The Political Philosophy of RG Collingwood.Peter Johnson - 2005 - Contemporary Political Theory 4 (1):92-94.
  37. added 2016-12-08
    The Art Question.Nigel Warburton - 2002 - Routledge.
    If an artist sends a live peacock to an exhibition, is it art? 'What is art?' is a question many of us want answered but are too afraid to ask. It is the very question that Nigel Warburton demystifies in this brilliant and accessible little book. With the help of varied illustrations and photographs, from Cézanne and Francis Bacon to Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, best-selling author Warburton brings a philosopher's eye to art in a refreshing jargon-free style. With customary (...)
  38. added 2016-10-07
    What is the Business of Collingwood's The Principles of Art?J. C. McGuiggan - 2016 - Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 22 (1):195-223.
    Collingwood’s aim in The Principles of Art is “to answer the question: What is art?” (p. 1) The answer Collingwood offers to that question, that art is the expression of emotion, has become notorious for its implausibility. I consider one objection against this theory, namely that it is unclear what is rendered art by this definition: for it sometimes appears to define art too broadly, containing all utterances and gestures; but at other times to define art too narrowly, excluding much (...)
  39. added 2015-08-12
    Kant and Collingwood on Aesthetic Experience.Stuart Jay Petock - 1971 - Dissertation, University of Cincinnati
  40. added 2015-04-05
    Collingwood and Lonergan on Historical Knowledge.Robert Miner - unknown - Lonergan Workshop 19:197-210.
  41. added 2015-04-05
    Collingwood's Hermneutic of Acts and Events in Historical Explanation.Doug Mann - unknown - Eidos: The Canadian Graduate Journal of Philosophy 11.
  42. added 2015-04-05
    R. G. Collingwood, An Essay On Philosophical Method. [REVIEW]Timothy Lord - 2006 - Philosophy in Review 26:246-248.
  43. added 2015-04-05
    The Intelligibility of Human Nature in the Philosophy of R. G. Collingwood.Michael J. O'neill - 2004 - Dissertation, The Catholic University of America
    The primary aim of this dissertation is an exegesis of Collingwood's historical science of mind. I take seriously Collingwood's claim that history is for "self-understanding" and treat his philosophy of history as a form of reflective philosophy. In particular, I examine the epistemological basis for Collingwood's claim that mind is an object that changes as it understands itself. ;In Chapter One, I consider the distinction between natural process and historical process as central to an understanding of Collingwood's historical science of (...)
  44. added 2015-04-05
    Collingwood and the Metaphysics of Experience. [REVIEW]Lionel Rubinoff - 2004 - Clio: A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History 33 (3):315-320.
  45. added 2015-04-05
    Collingwood and the Metaphysics of Experience. [REVIEW]Dimitris Vardoulakis - 2003 - Colloquy 7.
  46. added 2015-04-05
    Collingwood on Re-Enactment: Understanding in History and Interpretation in Art.Chinatsu Kobayashi - 2003 - Dissertation, University of Ottawa (Canada)
    In this thesis, I aim at an interpretation of some central parts of the philosophy of R. G. Collingwood. My fundamental hypothesis is that in his writings in the philosophy of history and in the philosophy of art, Collingwood developed a general theory of understanding. This theory, which is based on his views on mind and language, is meant to apply to both cases: the understanding of actions of historical agents, or re-enactment, and the interpretation of the work of art. (...)
  47. added 2015-04-05
    The Role of Inductive Generalizations in Collingwood's Model of Historical Explanation.Steven Albert Gable - 2003 - Dissertation, The Catholic University of America
    Chapter One focuses upon R. G. Collingwood's theory of the reconstruction of the outside of historical events through the interpretation of evidence. This chapter explores four phases of historical interpretation pertinent to the establishment of the facts that constitute the outside of an historical event. The role of historical realism in the development of Collingwood's position of historical idealism is outlined. The chapter then moves to a consideration of the relationship between the thought that constitutes the inside of an historical (...)
  48. added 2015-04-05
    Aaron Ridley, Collingwood. [REVIEW]Steven Burns - 2000 - Philosophy in Review 20:257-259.
  49. added 2015-04-05
    Collingwood Studies, Vol. V: Explorations.D. Boucher & B. Haddock - 1999 - Appraisal 2.
  50. added 2015-04-05
    A Question of Evidence: A Study of R. G. Collingwood's Philosophy of History.Mark Joseph Kuhn - 1997 - Dissertation, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
    I begin this dissertation with a statement of the standard view of Collingwood's philosophy. This is the view that Collingwood's contribution to philosophy lies in the doctrine of the re-enactment of past experience. I further identify as the "accidentalist" hypothesis the interpretation that Collingwood's later philosophy lacks overall coherence. I criticize those interpretive doctrines. In the light of my dissertation, neither the standard view nor the accidentalist hypothesis is tenable. ;Against the standard view I demonstrate in Chapter II that his (...)
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