The Idea of History by R. G. Collingwood

By R. G. Collingwood

The suggestion of History is the best-known paintings of the good Oxford thinker, historian, and archaeologist R.G. Collingwood. It was once initially released posthumously in 1946, having been more often than not reconstructed from Collingwood's manuscripts, a lot of that are now misplaced. this crucial paintings examines how the belief of heritage has developed from the time of Herodotus to the 20th century, and gives Collingwood's personal view of what historical past is. For this revised version, Collingwood's most vital lectures at the philosophy of heritage are released the following for the 1st time. those texts were ready by way of Jan van der Dussen from manuscripts that experience only in the near past turn into to be had. The lectures include Collingwood's first entire assertion of his philosophy of heritage; they're accordingly crucial for a whole knowing of his proposal, and specifically for an accurate interpretation of The notion of History itself. Van der Dussen contributes a considerable advent during which he explains the heritage to this re-creation and surveys the scholarship of the final fifty years.

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Kant, whose pupil he had been, evidently read the book as soon as it appeared, and although he dissented from many of its doctrines, as his somewhat acid review was to show a year later, it did stimulate him to think for himself about the problems it raised and to write an essay of his own which constitutes his chief work on the philosophy of history. Influenced by his pupil though he was, Kant was already sixty when he read the first part of the Ideen, and his mind had been formed by the Enlightenment as it took root in Germany under the aegis of Frederick the Great and of Voltaire, whom Frederick brought to the Prussian court.

It will be plain from the examples that have been given that the historiography of the Enlightenment is apocalyptic to an extreme degree, as indeed the very word 'enlightenment' suggests. The central point of history, for these writers, is the sunrise of the modern scientific spirit. Before that, everything was superstition and darkness, error and imposture. And of these things there can be no history, not only because they are unworthy of historical study, but because there is in them no rational or necessary development: the story of them is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

No such theory was consciously formulated either by Voltaire or by Hume. But had such a theory been brought to their notice, they might have accepted it, and identified themselves and their colleagues with the agency which was actually bringing the religious era of human history to an end and inaugurating a non-religious rational era. Actually, however, their polemical attitude towards religion was too violent and one-sided to have received support from any such theory of its place in human history.

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