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

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  1. Robin George Collingwood, 1889-1943.Ri Aaron - 1944 - Proceedings of the British Academy 29:24.
  2. 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 (...)
  3. Book Reviews : R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History. Rev. Ed., Edited and with a New Introduction by J. Van der Dussen, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993. Pp. Xlvii, 510. $108.00 (Cloth. [REVIEW]A. M. Adam - 1995 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 25 (2):256-258.
  4. The Logical Priority of the Question: R. G. Collingwood, Philosophical Hermeneutics and Enquiry-Based Learning.David Aldridge - 2012 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 46 (4):71-85.
    The thesis that all learning has the character of enquiry is advanced and its implications are explored. R. G. Collingwood's account of ‘the logical priority of the question’ is explained and Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutical justification and development, particularly the rejection of the re-enactment thesis, is discussed. Educators are encouraged to consider the following implications of the character of the question implied in all learning: (i) that it is a question that is constituted in the event rather than prepared or given (...)
  5. Art and Instinct.Samuel Alexander - 1927 - R. West.
  6. Mounce and Collingwood on Art and Craft.R. T. Allen - 1993 - British Journal of Aesthetics 33 (2):173-176.
  7. Beyond Historicism: Collingwood, Strauss, Momigliano.Carlo Altini - 2006 - Interpretation 34 (1):47-66.
  8. Repetition and Re-Enactment: Collingwood on the Relation Between Natural Science and History.Nathan Andersen - 2004 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 42 (3):291-311.
  9. Collingwood, Robin George.D. R. Anderson - 1998 - In Michael Kelly (ed.), Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Oxford University Press. pp. 1--393.
  10. Artistic Control in Collingwood's Theory of Art.Douglas R. Anderson - 1990 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 48 (1):53-59.
  11. The Role of Aesthetic Emotion in R. G. Collingwood's Conception of Creative Activity.Douglas R. Anderson & Carl R. Hausman - 1992 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 50 (4):299-305.
  12. Two Books on Roman Britain Roman Britain. By R. G. Collingwood, F.S.A. One Vol. Crown 8vo. Pp. 104 (Maps, Photographs, Drawings). London: Oxford University Press, Humphrey Milford, 1923. 2s. 6d. Net. The Romans in Britain. By B. C. A. Windle. One Vol. 8vo. Pp. Xii + 244 (65 Illustrations). London: Methuen and Co., 1923. 12s. 6d. Net. [REVIEW]J. G. C. Anderson - 1924 - The Classical Review 38 (3-4):82-83.
  13. Giuseppina D'Oro: Collingwood and the Metaphysics of Experience.L. Armour - 2003 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 11 (4):730-734.
  14. Relativismo Cognitivo E Historicidad: (Dilthey, Collingwood, Gadamer).Pablo Arnau - 1997 - Universitat de València.
  15. Emoción artística y no distinción estética. Una aproximación hermenéutica a la teoría del arte de R. G. Collingwood.Pau Arnau - 2000 - Thémata: Revista de Filosofía 25:101-109.
  16. On World Politics: R.G. Collingwood, Michael Oakeshott, and Neotraditionalism in International Relations.Alexander Astrov - 2005 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    This book outlines an idea of world politics as thinking and speaking about the conditions of world order. World order is understood not as an arrangement of entities but a complex of variously situated activities conducted by individuals as members of diverse associations of their own. Within contemporary international relations it entails a theoretical position, neotraditionalism, as a reformulation of the initial "traditionalist" approach in the wake of rationalism and subsequent reflectivist critique.
  17. Benedetto Croce And Robin Collingwood - Historiographic and Humanistic Approaches to the Self and the World.Jaume Aurell - 2009 - Prose Studies 31 (3):214-226.
    Autobiographies by intellectuals are a privileged source of intellectual history. This potentiality is increased when we study historians' autobiographies, where they negotiate with a past which is actually their own past. Acknowledging the genre's potential as a source of theory and history, this essay examines Benedetto Croce and Robin Collingwood's memoirs, connecting them to the general trends of historiographic evolution in the twentieth century. Their exploration of the self becomes not only an excellent testimony of the methodological and epistemological trends (...)
  18. R. G. Collingwood: A Bibliographic Checklist.C. J. B. & Christopher Dreisbach - 1995 - Philosophical Quarterly 45 (180):417.
    This out of print work offered researchers a comprehensive and easy to use bibliography of primary and secondary works by or about Collingwood. More than 1,200 citations were listed alphabetically by standard bibliographical categories in this volume, which contained a periodical index as well as author and subject indexes. In addition, each book entry included a "review alert" listing the names of reviewers. Author notes clarified the significance of a listed work when this was not apparent from the title, and (...)
  19. R.G. Collingwood: Historia, Metafísica y Política: Ensayos E Interpretaciones.Pablo Badillo O'Farrell & Enrique Bocardo (eds.) - 2005 - Universidad de Sevilla. Secretariado de Publicaciones.
  20. R. G. Collingwood: Historia, Metafísica y Política: Ensayos E Interpretaciones.Pablo J. Badillo & Enrique F. Bocardo (eds.) - 2006 - Universidad de Sevilla.
  21. Introduction: Kant and the British Idealists.Sorin Baiasu - 2013 - Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 19 (1):1-18.
  22. A Reply to Mischel's "Collingwood on Art as 'Imaginative Expression'".John A. Bailey - 1963 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 41 (3):372 – 378.
  23. Human Dimensions of Collingwood, Rg Philosophy of History.J. Balazova - 1995 - Filozofia 50 (9):470-478.
  24. La Conception de l'Homme Dans la Philosophie de l'Histoire de Collingwood.J. Balazova - 1989 - Filozofia 44 (1):36-43.
  25. Collingwoods Enchantment.Roger Bannister - 2005 - Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 11 (2):161-168.
    The launch of this important book appropriately takes place near Collingwood's childhood home in the Lake District-- a book decorated by illustrations from the work of his own father who taught him so much. It is a pleasure that his daughter Teresa is here, whose own memoir 'Early Influ-ences' helped in our thinking about her father. I join the edi-tors whose skill deserves the highest praise, in expressing gratitude both for Teresa's encouragement throughout the preparation of this book and for (...)
  26. Rediscovering Collingwood's Spiritual History.David Bates - 1996 - History and Theory 35 (1):29-55.
    Collingwood has often been depicted as a neglected and isolated thinker whose original ideas on the contextual nature of truth anticipated important trends in postwar thought. The spiritual aspects of his thought, however, have often been problematic, precisely because they seem to conflict with his more influential ideas. Although Collingwood's overtly theological and metaphysical writing can be safely confined to an early, perhaps even juvenile phase of his career, the spiritual dimension of some of his later work, including, for example, (...)
  27. Rex Martins Reading of Collingwoods Essay on Metaphysics.Michael Beaney - 2006 - Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 12 (1):83-103.
    In his substantial editor's introduction to the revised edition of R.G. Collingwood's Essay on Metaphysics , Rex Martin offers a detailed account of this work and its relationship to Collingwood's other writings, and in particular, to his earlier Essay on Philosophical Method . In what follows I shall take issue with key aspects of Martin's reading. But let me say at the outset that I found his discussion enormously stimulating: it provoked me to interrogate the text with specific questions in (...)
  28. Collingwoods Conception of Presuppositional Analysis.Michael Beaney - 2005 - Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 11 (2):41-114.
    We are not dealing with an event in the history of logic. We are dealing with the ravages of a disease that is attacking the European intellect. If the thoughts of a diseased intellect prove to be paradoxes, there is nothing paradoxical in that. [R. G. Collingwood, An Essay on Metaphysics,p.281].
  29. Collingwood's Critique of Analytic Philosophy'.Michael Beaney - 2001 - Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 8:99-122.
  30. The Social and Political Thought of R.G. Collingwood.Richard Bellamy - 1991 - History of European Ideas 13 (4):469-469.
  31. Collingwood y el constructivismo histórico.Rosa Belvedresi - 1997 - Revista de Filosofía (Madrid) 17 (1):187.
    En este trabajo trataré de mostrar que existe en la obra de Collingwood una unidad si se considera su concepción de la historia y, si bien no creo que algunos cambios en su desarrollo puedan obviarse, me inclino por una lectura que tienda a verlos como modificaciones en sus tesis que, vistas diacrónicamente, permiten reconocer cierta continuidad. Lo que me propongo, entonces, es criticar la interpretación realista de los primeros escritos de Collingwood oponiendo una lectura constructivista que muestre la continuidad (...)
  32. Croce's Aesthetics in Context.Peter A. Bertocci - 1957 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 38 (3):248.
  33. Collingwood and the Eternal Philosophical Problems.E. F. Bertoldi - 1985 - Dialogue 24 (3):387-397.
  34. Gadamer's Criticisms of Collingwood.E. F. Bertoldi - 1984 - Idealistic Studies 14 (3):213-228.
  35. Absolute Presuppositions and Irrationalism.Eugene F. Bertoldi - 1989 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 27 (2):157-172.
  36. Universality and Particularity in the Philosophy of E. B. Bax and R. G. Collingwood.Mark Bevir - 1999 - History of the Human Sciences 12 (3):55-69.
    This article examines the ways in which E. B. Bax and R. G. Collingwood attempted to avoid relativism and irrationalism without postulating a pure and universal reason. Both philosophers were profound historicists who recognized the fundamentally particular nature of the world. Yet they also attempted to retain a universal aspect to thought - Bax through his distinction between the logical and alogical realms, and Collingwood through his doctrine of re-enactment. The article analyses both their metaphysical premises and their philosophies of (...)
  37. Reviews : David Boucher, The Social and Political Thought of R.G. Collingwood (Cambridge University Press, 1989).David Blaazer - 1991 - Thesis Eleven 29 (1):129-131.
  38. History and Nature In Collingwood's Dialectic.James A. Blachowicz - 1976 - Idealistic Studies 6 (1):49-61.
  39. Collingwood on Corrupt Consciousness.David W. Black - 1982 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 40 (4):395-400.
  40. Learning From the Past.Deborah Blackman & James Connelly - 2001 - Philosophy of Management 1 (2):43-54.
    Through a consideration of the views of R. G. Collingwood on historical knowledge and conceptual change, this paper addresses organisational issues such as history, culture and memory. It then subjects the idea of learning histories to critical scrutiny. It concludes that, because of their potential to become framing mental models, they may be in danger of failing to achieve the purposes for which they are used.
  41. R G Collingwood.Charles Booth - 2004 - The Philosophers' Magazine 26 (26):53-53.
  42. R. G. Collingwood.Charles Booth - 2004 - The Philosophers' Magazine (26):53-53.
  43. The Conscious and the Unconscious in History:Lévi-Strauss, Collingwood, Bally, Barthes.Thorsten Botz-Bornstein - 2012 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 6 (2):151-172.
    Claude Lévi-Strauss holds that history and anthropology differ in their choice of complementary perspectives: history organizes its data in relation to conscious expressions of social life, while anthropology proceeds by examining its unconscious foundations. For R. G. Collingwood historical science discovers not only pure facts but considers a whole series of thoughts constituting historical life. Also Lévi-Strauss sees this: “To understand history it is necessary to know not only how things are, but how they have come to be.” However, Lévi-Strauss (...)
  44. Collingwood and Anthropology as a Historical Science.D. Boucher - 2002 - History of Political Thought 23 (2):303-332.
    This paper explores R.G. Collingwood's argument that a new type of archaeology, taking fairy tales as its subject matter, is capable of expanding our historical knowledge of cultural practices. I suggest that it is interesting from the point of view of current discussions about cosmopolitanism and communitarianism and also for understanding past practices, such as magic, without having to attribute failure of reasoning or a breakdown in mentality to the participants, as Le Roy Ladurie does. Collingwood maintains that the natural (...)
  45. Collingwood Studies, Vol. V: Explorations.D. Boucher & B. Haddock - 1999 - Appraisal 2.
  46. 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 (...)
  47. RG Collingwood.David Boucher - 2002 - In Leemon McHenry, P. Dematteis & P. Fosl (eds.), British Philosophers, 1800-2000. Bruccoli Clark Layman. pp. 262--70.
  48. The Significance of R. G. Collingwood's Principles of History.David Boucher - 1997 - Journal of the History of Ideas 58 (2):309-330.
  49. Human Conduct, History, and Social Science in the Works of R. G. Collingwood and Michael Oakeshott.David Boucher - 1993 - New Literary History 24:697-717.
  50. The Social and Political Thought of R.G. Collingwood.David Boucher - 1989 - 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 (...)
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