History and Theory 29 (4):1 (1990)

The J. A. Smith collection at Magdalen College, Oxford, contains an unsigned carbon copy, dated 1914, titled "The Theory of History." The manuscript, if Collingwood's, is his earliest essay on the philosophy of history. That "The Theory of History" may be Collingwood's is established by considerations of chronology, geography, and the appearance of certain intellectual interests mirrored in his other writing of the period 1913 to 1920. Present in the manuscript also are: the principles of the ideality of history, or the unity of past and present in the historian's thought; the principle that historical knowledge presupposes judgment, and therefore, like knowledge generally, changes both knower and known; the conviction that the past is necessarily contemporary; the dialectic between judgment and evidence which is somehow not purely subjective but yields genuine knowledge, and the analogous rejection of the positivistic notions that history is unknowable; and the interest in and identification or near identification of philosophy and history. All these are seminal to everything Collingwood would write on history from 1913 to 1940
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DOI 10.2307/2505159
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