The Later Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood

The Later Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood

The Later Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood

The Later Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood

Excerpt

Collingwood discouraged discussion of his work. Those who disapproved of it he begged to write, not about it, but about its subject; and those who approved he charged to show their approval by attending to work of their own (A, 118-19). I have disregarded his injunction, because it seemed to me that I could not economically proceed with my own work until I had taken stock of his.

Of the English-speaking philosophers whose work between the two great wars deserves to be remembered, Collingwood alone has not been 'placed'. While widely read, his books have seldom been thoroughly mastered; nor do I pretend to have mastered them. This book is little more than an impression of how Collingwood's philosophy developed after he had completed his Essay on Philosophical Method. At most, I hope that it may persuade some of my readers to abandon the injurious preconceptions with which Collingwood's later books are often read; and to read at least his masterpieces, The Idea of History, The Principles of Art, and the first three parts of The New Leviathan, as together expounding a coherent philosophy.

Every serious student of Collingwood is deeply indebted to his literary executor, T. M. Knox, the Principal of St. Andrews. Yet, much as I owe to his editorial preface to The Idea of History, I am disquieted by the awareness that this book would have been improved if I had succeeded in owing more. Mr. R. B. McCallum, Master of Pembroke, Professor I. A. Richmond, and Professor W. H. Walsh very kindly answered my questions about Collingwood, and gave me much other information. Dr. Alda Croce has graciously provided me with a typed copy of the original text of five of Collingwood's letters to her father, Benedetto Croce: I thank both her, and Professor G. N. G. Orsini of Wisconsin, who wrote to her on my behalf, after drawing my attention to Croce's references to Collingwood in Nuove Pagine Sparse. I regret that Professor Orsini Benedetto Croce: Philosopher of Art and Literary Critic appeared too late for me to use it.

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