The Idea of History

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

INTRODUCTORY LECTURE

1. The phrase Philosophy of History, in the title of these lectures, is used in a sense analogous to that of the phrases philosophy of art, philosophy of religion. In these cases the expression means that art or religion is a specific form of human activity, a specific form of knowledge or conduct or both, which for some reason deserves or demands special study by philosophers.

For what reason? The answer is, that art or religion is a universal and necessary form of human activity: not an accidental or optional form, which may in certain circumstances be dispensed with, but a form which is and must be present throughout the range of human experience. If one thinks that art (e.g.) is in this sense universal and necessary; if one thinks that every human being at every moment of his conscious life is an artist, and that the artistic activity is among the essential constituents of our experience, then one thinks that there is or ought to be a philosophy of art, that is, a philosophical science dealing with human experience as a whole considered in this aesthetic aspect.

On the other hand, if one thinks that art is not in this sense universal and necessary: if one thinks that some people are artists and others not, and that those who are artists are artists at certain times and not at others, then one thinks that there is and can be no philosophy of art but only an empirical or psychological science of art as a particular contingent type of experience.

Now there is one sense in which art really is a universal and necessary element in all experience, a sense in which we are all and always artists. This is the most profound and true meaning of the word art. And in this sense the science of art is a philosophical science. But there is also a sense--a relatively shallow and unimportant sense--in which some people are artists and others not: and in this sense there is room for an empirical or psychological science of art side by side with the philosophy of art. Similarly, there is a sense of the word religion in which religion is coextensive with human experience,

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3
In the manuscript is added: ' May 1-1928'.

-431-

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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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