History and Theory 20 (3):291-312 (1981)

Collingwood's faith in the historian's intuitive capacity for discerning the meaning of past actions by re-enactment" is too unqualified. However, his thesis that through actions alone can reasons and inner meanings be discovered is true. This assumes that actions can be traced to recognizable agents and that these agents are able to acknowledge their reasons. The relation between knowing and doing and between knowing and understanding is a form of causality not inconsistent with teleological reasoning. Characteristic of human action are the constitutive nature of causality, the delimiting effect of rationality on human autonomy, and the role of purpose as a mediating link between intention and outcome. Despite the fact that emphasis on impersonal actions and interactions seriously calls into question Collingwood's theory of understanding, any radical revision of this theory proves no less problematical
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DOI 10.2307/2504559
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