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The Principles of History: And Other Writings in Philosophy of History [Paperback]

R. G. Collingwood , W. H. Dray , W. J. van der Dussen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

May 3, 2001 0199243158 978-0199243150
Published here for the first time is much of a final and long-anticipated work on the philosophy of history by the great Oxford philosopher and historian R. G. Collingwood (1889-1943). The original text of this uncompleted work has only recently been discovered and is accompanied here by Collingwood's shorter writings on historical knowledge and inquiry. Besides containing entirely new ideas, these incredible writings discuss many of the issues which Collingwood famously raised in The Idea of History and in his Autobiography. This book also includes two conclusions written by Collingwood, which were eventually revised and published as The Idea of Nature. and a lengthy editorial introduction that puts Collingwood's writings in their context and discusses the philosophical questions they initiate. A landmark publication, this work will appeal not only to those studying Collingwood but also to anyone broadly curious about philosophy of history.

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Editorial Reviews


`long and quite masterly Introduction' Michael Bentley, EHR Vol. 116

`an important venture' Michael Bentley, EHR Vol. 116

`The cumulative effect of this labour of love, indeed, is to confound Knox's prejudice that the later years of Collingwood's writing merit suppression and to round off the project of bringing the entire gamut of Collingwood's work out of the archives and into the public domain. The result will surely be a continuing reappraisal of the only British philosopher of history whose work is still read by historians.' Michael Bentley, EHR

About the Author

R. G. Collingwood was Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy in the University of Oxford from 1935 to 1941.

W. H. Dray is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa; he has held visiting appointments at Toronto, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke Universities, among others.

W. J. van der Dussen is Professor of Humanities at the Open University of the Netherlands.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199243158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199243150
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,936,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars R. G. Collingwood's Principia Historia June 25, 2003
This is the book, or a fragment of the book, that R. G. Collingwood was preparing to write his entire life. It is, in this edition, very incomplete. I have rated it as four stars only because there is too much matter from the editor, and not enough of Collingwood. This book, read in conjunction with his series on Philosophy and History, particularly the "Essay on Metaphysics", "The Idea of History", and "An Essay on Philosophical Method", will give the reader a very complete idea of Collingwood's philosophy. The book, as Collingwood conceived it, but did not live to complete, was to be an expanded version of his earlier "Speculum Mentis" (1924), which was his only complete treatise covering the entire range of philosophy.
"Speculum Mentis" is in fact one of the most remarkable books written in the last century, and Collingwood must be rated among the great philosophical thinkers of all time. Like all the great philosophers he has been misunderstood, most of all by philosophers, who, rather than read the text read their own interpetations into it, and then try to classify and pigeonhole the writer based on this. His writing style is beautiful. He is nearly as easy to read as C. S. Lewis, whom he knew, and more so than his close friend and colleague at Oxford, the Celtic philologist, J. R. R. Tolkein.
The best book covering these three and their teachers at Oxford is James Patrick, "The Magdalen Metaphysicals: Idealism & Orthodoxy at Oxford, 1901-1945" (Mercer University Press, 1895), which is available through This interesting book should lead you to a new understanding of these men and the similar philosophy that informs the work of each.
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