R. G. Collingwood Criticism - Essay

G. Buchdahl (essay date 1948)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Logic and History: An Assessment of R. G. Collingwood's Idea of History," in The Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. XXVI, No. 2, September, 1948, pp. 94-113.

[In the following essay, Buchdahl focuses on Collingwood's approach in The Idea of History to the problematic nature of historical facts and historical knowledge.]

This article is not concerned with everything Collingwood has had to say about history, but only some interesting parts of certain passages in his Idea of History. The problem dealt with in those passages is: How can we give an account of historical facts, how can there be historical knowledge? And this may (without perhaps...

(The entire section is 7260 words.)

Errol E. Harris (essay date 1951)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Collingwood on Eternal Problems," in The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 3, April, 1951, pp. 228-41.

[In the following essay, Harris discusses Collingwood's ideas on the possibility of an "ultimate standard" of philosophical truth.]

The notion of eternal truth is as old as philosophy itself, and, surely, of all things, truth can hardly be subject to alteration. The standard by which we judge must be an ultimate standard, for, if it were not, no claim even to relative truth could be justified; and no such standard could be changeable, for, if it were, the claims of the successive competitors for our allegiance would be utterly baseless. The attempt, so...

(The entire section is 7068 words.)

Leo Strauss (essay date 1952)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "On Collingwood's Philosophy of History," in Review of Metaphysics, Vol. V, No. 4, June, 1952, pp. 559-86.

[In the following essay, Strauss studies the relationship between philosophy and history in Collingwood's works.]


R. G. Collingwood's The Idea of History "is an essay in the philosophy of history." Philosophy of history, as Collingwood understood it, is of very recent origin. It emerged as a sequel to the rise of "scientific history" which took place in the latter part of the nineteenth century (254). If one assumes that "scientific history" is the highest or final form of man's concern with his past, the...

(The entire section is 10455 words.)

Nathan Rotenstreich (essay date 1960)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "From Facts to Thoughts: Collingwood's Views on the Nature of History," in Philosophy, Vol. XXXV, No. 133, April, 1960, pp. 122-37.

[In the following essay, Rotenstreich provides an analysis of Collingwood's views regarding history as a set of facts and as an object of knowledge.]


There is a common distinction between two aspects of history: history as the object dealt with and history as the way of dealing with the object. Within the "objective" aspect of history one may distinguish between the attempt to define the object as man and the attempt to define it as process. Within the "subjective" aspect there is the prevailing tendency...

(The entire section is 7253 words.)

Alan Donagan (essay date 1964)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Introduction to Essays in the Philosophy of Art by R. G. Collingwood, edited by Alan Donagan, Indiana University Press, 1964, pp. ix-xx.

[In the following essay, Donagan offers an overview of Collingwood's theoretical writings on art.]

R. G. Collingwood is generally acknowledged to have contributed more to the philosophy of art and the philosophy of history than any other British philosopher of his time. His Principles of Art (1938) and Idea of History (1946) are readily obtainable and widely studied. Yet, despite his beautiful and vigorous prose style, neither of these important books is fully intelligible by itself. You must go to...

(The entire section is 3076 words.)

William M. Johnston (essay date 1967)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Benedetto Croce as a Foil to R. G. Collingwood," in The Formative Years of R. G. Collingwood, Martinus Nijhoff, 1967, pp. 68-80.

[In the following excerpt, Johnston focuses on the philosophical career of Benedetto Croce in relation to Collingwood's development as a philosopher]


Benedetto Croce is the contemporary thinker whom early Collingwood most resembles. As we shall see, this is true especially of Croce's writings from 1901 to 1910. Whether the resemblance is owing to Croce's direct influence upon Collingwood or to Vico's influence upon both Croce and Collingwood is one of those problems of...

(The entire section is 4777 words.)

Julian Hartt (essay date 1969)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Faith and Reason: Essays in the Philosophy of Religion, in The Journal of Religion, Vol. 49, No. 3, July, 1969, pp. 280-94.

[In the following essay, Hartt provides an analysis of Collingwood's religious thought.]


Mr. Rubinoff's subtitle is excessively modest. In the Editor's Introduction [to Faith and Reason: Essays in the Philosophy of Religion by R. G. Collingwood], and in the introductions to each of the major divisions of the Collingwood material he presents in this volume, he mounts an interesting and important argument about the consistency of Collingwood's philosophy, early and late. He says:...

(The entire section is 6455 words.)

Louis O. Mink (essay date 1969)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Dialectic of Experience," in Mind, History, and Dialectic: The Philosophy of R. G. Collingwood, Indiana University Press, 1969, pp. 7-58.

[In the following excerpt, Mink discusses Speculum Mentis as a work that introduced and coordinated the major issues elaborated in Collingwood's later writings.]


Throughout his life Collingwood occupied himself with the relations and differences among art, religion, science, history, and philosophy, regarded sometimes as ways of life, sometimes as types of experience, and sometimes as modes of knowledge. At least one of his books...

(The entire section is 13125 words.)

Lionel Rubinoff (essay date 1970)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Philosophy and History: The Need for a Rapprochement," in Collingwood and the Reform of Metaphysics: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind, University of Toronto Press, 1970, pp. 3-34.

[In the following excerpt, Rubinoff considers the relationship between Collingwood's views on history and philosophy.]


In 1938, a few years before his death, Collingwood characterized his life work as "in the main an attempt to bring about a rapprochement between philosophy and history.' Indeed, his deep concern with history is evident from the very outset of his career. In 1919, for example, in...

(The entire section is 4929 words.)

A. J. M. Milne (essay date 1972)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Collingwood's Ethics and Political Theory," in Critical Essays on the Philosophy of R. G. Collingwood, edited by Michael Krausz, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1972, pp. 296-326.

[In the following essay, Milne focuses on ethical and political ideas advanced in Collingwood's works.]

Collingwood touched briefly on ethics in Speculum Mentis and in his Autobiography had some hard things to say about contemporary British politics. But it is to his last completed book, The New Leviathan, that we must go for a systematic exposition of his ideas in ethics and political theory. These ideas had apparently been maturing long...

(The entire section is 11972 words.)

David W. Black (essay date 1982)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Collingwood on Corrupt Consciousness," in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. XL, No. 4, Summer, 1982, pp. 395-400.

[In the following essay, Black examines Collingwood's concept of "corrupt consciousness ' and its relationship to his theory of art.]

Taken at face value, Collingwood's theory of art seems to focus on an analysis of feeling. The work of art, in Collingwood's eyes, explicates the elements of sensibility by placing them in a self-conscious order. Such a theory of feeling is indeed fundamental to Collingwood's aesthetic; but he has an accompanying intent the purport of which is not fully revealed in his analysis of feeling. This second...

(The entire section is 3722 words.)

John Grant (essay date 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "On Reading Collingwood's Principles of Art," in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. XLVI, No. 2, Winter, 1987, pp. 239-48.

[In the following essay, Grant finds that Collingwood's ideas concerning art significantly vary throughout the course of his treatise The Principles of Art.]

Perhaps no work of English aesthetics in this century has been more disputed than Collingwood's Principles of Art. On one extreme it is insisted that Collingwood's chief and leading doctrine is that the work of art is something exclusively mental in nature, something whose physical and publicly accessible embodiment is aesthetically extraneous. On the other...

(The entire section is 6645 words.)

Peter Lewis (essay date 1989)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Collingwood on Art and Fantasy," in Philosophy, Vol. LXIV, No. 250, October, 1989, pp. 547-56.

[In the following essay, Lewis addresses the relationship between Collingwood's philosophy of art and concepts of psychoanalysis.]

In Art and Its Objects, Richard Wollheim devotes considerable space to attacking a theory he calls the CroceCollingwood Theory of Art. According to this theory, as Wollheim presents it, an artist's capacity to create works of art consists in his being able to elaborate images or intuitions in his own mind, irrespective of whether there is any means of publicly externalizing them in the form of paintings, poems, symphonies, etc....

(The entire section is 3973 words.)

W. Jan van der Dussen (essay date 1990)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Collingwood and the Idea of Progress," in History and Theory, Vol. XXIX, No. 4, 1990, pp. 21-41.

[In the following essay, van der Dussen examines Collingwood's view of the idea of progress as both epistemological and metaphysical in nature.]


At the beginning of the chapter in his autobiography entitled "The Need for a Philosophy of History" Collingwood claims that two branches of philosophical inquiry need special attention. Besides epistemological problems related to historical knowledge he mentions in this connection "metaphysical problems, concerned with the nature of the historian's subject matter: the elucidation of terms like...

(The entire section is 10523 words.)

Michael A. Kissell (essay date 1990)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Progressive Traditionalism as the Spirit of Collingwood's Philosophy," in History and Theory, Vol. XXIX, No. 4, 1990, pp. 51-6.

[In the following essay, Kissell characterizes Collingwood's thought as "progressive traditionalism" in the sense that it addresses both the changing phenomena of history and perennial issues of philosophy.]

Thirty-two years ago when I began my dissertation on Collingwood's philosophy, the people around me said: "Who was he? Where did you dig him up and why, since nobody knows him?" As a young graduate student, I was philosophically very naive and educated in the spirit of dogmatically distorted Marxism, but I saw at once that in...

(The entire section is 3110 words.)