The Idea of History

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

PART IV
SCIENTIFIC HISTORY

§ 1. England

(i) Bradley

IN European philosophy towards the end of the nineteenth century there was a kind of springtime of new growth after the winter that had set in at Hegel's death. On its negative side this new movement of thought showed itself mainly as a revolt against positivism. But positivism, though it actually was a philosophical system, refused to claim that title. It claimed only to be scientific. It was in fact nothing but the methodology of natural science raised to the level of a universal methodology: natural science identifying itself with knowledge. Consequently an attack on positivism was bound to appear in addition as a revolt against science and also as a revolt against intellect as such. Properly understood it was neither of these things. It was not a revolt against science, it was a revolt against the philosophy which claimed that science was the only kind of knowledge that existed or ever could exist. It was not a revolt against the intellect, it was a revolt against the theory which limited the intellect to the kind of thinking characteristic of natural science. But every revolt against one thing is a revolt in the interests of something else, and on its positive side this new movement of thought was an attempt (becoming clearer and clearer as the movement progressed towards maturity) to vindicate history as a form of knowledge distinct from natural science and yet valid in its own right.

Nevertheless, the early sponsors of these new ideas did their work under the shadow of positivism, and they had great difficulty in disentangling themselves from the positivist point of view. If they succeeded in overcoming this difficulty at certain points of their thought, they relapsed into positivism at others. Consequently when we now look back on the movement we see it as a confused mixture of positivism and various anti-positivist motives; and when we try to criticize its results and reduce them to order we soon realize that the easiest way of doing this would be by eliminating the anti-positivistic elements and

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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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