History as Re-enactment: R. G. Collingwoods Idea of History

Paperback | April 30, 1999

byWilliam H. Dray

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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 criticaldiscussion 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 proper subject-matter; and by clarifyingthe relationship between it and some other key Collingwoodian ideas, such as the place of imagination in historical inquiry, the sense in which history deals with the individual, the essential perspectivity of historical judgement, and the importance of narrative and periodization in historicalthinking. Professor Dray defends Collingwood against a good deal of recent criticism, while pointing to ways in which his position requires revision or development. History as Re-enactment draws upon a wide range of Collingwood's published writings, and makes considerable use of his unpublished manuscripts. It is the most systematic study yet of this central doctrine of Collingwood's philosophy of history, and will stand as a landmark in Collingwood studies. 'For many years William Dray has been working at the task of retrieving Collingwood for contemporary philosophy. . . . It is something of an event then to have this new work, the culmination of a lifetime of thought, appear in his retirement. As one would expect, it is a deeply considered book,lucidly written, and scrupulously fair to all parties . . . a sound and serious philosophical commentary . . . anyone interested in either Collingwood or the philosophy of history should consider joining the dialogue and will learn much in the process.' Canadian Journal of History

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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 criticaldiscussion in three ways: by analysing the idea...

W. H. Dray is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa; he has held visiting appointments at Toronto, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke Universities, among others.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:360 pages, 8.43 × 5.43 × 0.75 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198238819

ISBN - 13:9780198238812

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Table of Contents

1. History and Philosophy2. Re-enactment and Understanding3. Re-enactment and Laws4. Intellect, Rationality, Feeling5. The Physical and the Social6. The Historical Imagination7. The Ideality of History8. The Perspectivity of HistoryEpilogueBibliographyIndex

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`It is something of an event then, to have his new work, the culmination of a lifetime of thought, appear in his retirement. As one would expect, it is a deeply considered book, lucidly written, and scrupulously fair to all parties. ... a sound and serious philosophical commentary, and anyoneinterested in either Collingwood or the philosophy of history should consider joining the dialogue and will learn much in the process.'Canadian Journal of History, April 1997