The Idea of History

By R. G. Collingwood; J. Van Der Dussen | Go to book overview

EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION

1. INTRODUCTION

THE origin and subsequent reception of Collingwood posthumously published The Idea of History is an interesting story in its own right. Although Collingwood intended to write a book about the development of the concept of history and entitle it The Idea of History, had he been able to complete it, it would not have taken the form of the book which T. M. Knox compiled. Collingwood early death in January 1943 prevented him from finishing the large-scale project of which The Idea of History would have been part. What he had planned was to relate some of his previously published books to a number of projected volumes. The series was to have been divided into three categories: 'Philosophical Essays', 'Philosophical Principles', and 'Studies in the History of Ideas'. Oxford University Press had agreed to the proposal and the arrangement had been made to have them published. 1 The 'Philosophical Essays' were to include An Essay on Philosophical Method (published in 1933), and An Essay on Metaphysics, which was later published in 1940. The Principles of Art (published in 1938) and Principles of History were to comprise the second category in the series. Only one-third of the latter volume had been written by 1939 and it was subsequently never finished. The last category was to consist of The Idea of Nature and The Idea of History, both of which were edited by T. M. Knox and published after Collingwood's death.

Of the last three books only The Idea of Nature was close to being fully complete in draft form. The reason for Collingwood's failure to complete his project was twofold: the worsening condition of his health and the outbreak of war. As an uncompromising opponent of fascism and nazism he considered it his duty to give a fundamental analysis of what was at stake in the war. In his opinion it was nothing less than a fundamental conflict of ideals: fascism and nazism constituted a

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1
The arrangement was made in an exchange of letters between Oxford University Press and Collingwood of 18 and 19 October 1939. In a letter to the Press of 3 June 1939 Collingwood already referred to the first two categories.

-ix-

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The Idea of History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Editor's Introduction ix
  • Contents li
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I Greco-Roman Historiography 14
  • Part II the Influence of Christianity 46
  • Part III the Threshold of Scientific History 86
  • Part IV Scientific History 134
  • Part V Epilegomena 205
  • Preliminary Discussion the Idea of A Philosophy of Something, And, in Particular, A Philosophy of History (1927) 335
  • Lectures on the Philosophy of History (1926)1 359
  • Contents 360
  • Outlines of A Philosophy of History (1928) 426
  • Introductory Lecture 431
  • Contents 437
  • Iii. Relation 439
  • Index 497
  • More Oxford Paperbacks 511
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