- Collingwood, Robin George
- (1889–1943)English philosopher and historian. Born in the Lake District, Collingwood enjoyed a dual career as Roman historian and philosopher. He became a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1912, and professor of philosophy in Oxford in 1934. At the beginning of his career Collingwood tended towards idealism, being more in sympathy with Bradley and Croce than with the realists Russell or Moore, whose careless readings of historical philosophers particularly irked him. His historical work gave him a special interest in the activity of understanding and interpreting the past, an activity that he saw as continuous with our self-understanding and self-interpretation. It is not achieved by theorizing, but by the empathetic identification of the problem as it must have appeared to the subject, and a reliving of the deliberation that must then have ensued (see also simulation theory, verstehen ). Collingwood anticipates themes in the later Wittgenstein by stressing how the meaning of sentences is given by the practical problems and questions to which they provide answers. He also emphasizes that the a priori is a doubtful and shifting historical category, and especially stresses the Hegelian insight that people essentially discover themselves first as members of communities, not as self-sufficient individuals. This removes any first-person privileged access in the philosophy of mind. Towards the end of his career, in the Essay on Metaphysics (1940), Collingwood argued for a full-blooded identification of metaphysics with history. The proper subject of metaphysics becomes the descriptive study of the ‘absolute presuppositions’ of the thought and science of a particular age. His major contributions include Speculum Mentis (1924), The Principles of Art (1938), and The Idea of History (1946).
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.