The Idea of History

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

OUTLINES OF A PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY
(1928)

PREFACE

THIS essay deals with what appear to the writer the most important questions in the theory of history. They are arranged under four heads, which, out of compliment to the Kantian critiques, are called Quality, Quantity, Relation, and Modality. Under Quality, the question is raised whether history is real, and if so in what sense; and the answer to this question is the conception hereinafter called the ideality of history. This comes first because it is fundamental: all the other questions raised are solved by reference to it or deduced from it. Under Quantity, the question raised is that of universality versus particularity: the question whether history is properly conceived as a single universal world-history, or a plurality of particular histories. The answer is that, from the point of view of the ideality of history, the distinction disappears: and we are left with the conception of historical thought as the attempt to solve an historical problem, which is particular because it is always a fresh and different problem, but universal because, being the only problem in the historian's mind, it is for him, at the moment, the only historical problem there is. Under Relation, the question raised is that of the inner structure of historical fact. Granted the conception of the monograph in its universality and particularity, already arrived at under Quantity, we now find that the first condition of such a monograph is unity of subject; the second is orderly sequence of events; and the third is the completeness with which the events expound the subject, so as to form a complete whole of reciprocally explanatory parts. From this point of view it is possible to explain the precise meaning of progress. Under Modality, the question of the certainty or logical status of history is dealt with. Granted the ideality of history, the scepticism which denies the scientific value of

The source document can be found in the Bodleian Library Collingwood Papers, dep. 12.

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1
On the title-page is written ' April 1928'.

-426-

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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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