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History as Re-enactment : R. G. Collingwood's Idea of History - William H. Dray

History as Re-enactment

R. G. Collingwood's Idea of History

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Published: 1st February 1999
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A central motif of R. G. Collingwood's philosophy of history is the idea that historical understanding requires a re-enactment of past experience. However, there have been sharp disagreements about the acceptability of this idea, and even its meaning. This book aims to advance the critical discussion in three ways: by analysing the idea itself further, concentrating especially on the contrast which Collingwood drew between it and scientific understanding; by exploring the limits of its applicability to what historians ordinarily consider their proper subject-matter; and by clarifying the relationship between it and some other key Collingwoodian ideas, such as the place of imagination in historical inquiry, the sense in which history deals with the individual, the essential perspectivity of historical judgement, and the importance of narrative and periodization in historical thinking. Professor Dray defends Collingwood against a good deal of recent criticism, while pointing to ways in which his position requires revision or development. History as Re-enactment draws upon a wide range of Collingwood's published writings, and makes considerable use of his unpublished manuscripts. It is the most systematic study yet of this central doctrine of Collingwood's philosophy of history, and will stand as a landmark in Collingwood studies. 'For many years William Dray has been working at the task of retrieving Collingwood for contemporary philosophy. . . . It is something of an event then to have this new work, the culmination of a lifetime of thought, appear in his retirement. As one would expect, it is a deeply considered book, lucidly written, and scrupulously fair to all parties . . . a sound and serious philosophical commentary . . . anyone interested in either Collingwood or the philosophy of history should consider joining the dialogue and will learn much in the process.' Canadian Journal of History

`Dray is a very careful writer, and his analysis of Collingwood's philosophy of history is unparalleled in its scope and in its balance. Dray is also a very clear writer, and the book is well organized ... this is a fine study, perhaps the single best account of the pertinent ideas of this century's most eminent philosopher of history.' Rex Martin, American Historical Review `It is something of an event then, to have his new work, the culmination of a lifetime of thought, appear in his retirement. As one would expect, it is a deeply considered book, lucidly written, and scrupulously fair to all parties. ... a sound and serious philosophical commentary, and anyone interested in either Collingwood or the philosophy of history should consider joining the dialogue and will learn much in the process.' Canadian Journal of History, April 1997

1: History and Philosophy 2: Re-enactment and Understanding 3: Re-enactment and Laws 4: Intellect, Rationality, Feeling 5: The Physical and the Social 6: The Historical Imagination 7: The Ideality of History 8: The Perspectivity of History Epilogue Bibliography Index

ISBN: 9780198238812
ISBN-10: 0198238819
Series: Clarendon Paperbacks
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 736
Published: 1st February 1999
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.36 x 13.77  x 1.93
Weight (kg): 0.42