R.G. Collingwood (1889–1943)
Robin George Collingwood was a philosopher at Oxford University. He was the Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy there in 1936–41. I have read most of his books, sometimes more than once; evidently I find myself in some sympathy with them.
By publication year, Collingwood's books are the following. In some cases, I give copyright information, because of Collingwood's assertion in The Principles of Art that copyright should not be claimed.
- “The Devil“ (chapter XIII of the fourteen chapters of Concerning Prayer: Its Nature, Its Difficulties and Its Value (London: Macmillan and Co.).
- Religion and Philosophy (London: Macmillan and Co.). The preface begins on page v. This means the half-title page is implicitly page i; on page ii is a colophon (or publisher's mark); page iii is the title page; page iv consists of the single word ‘copyright’.
Mentis (Oxford). Out of print. The link is to a pdf file, but
I don't know where I got it, since I cannot find a web source now. Google
describes the book, but does not give it to me, though perhaps it did in
the past. Here the half title page is implicitly page 1; page 2 has a
sort of colophon with the information
First published 1924
Reprinted photographically in Great Britain at the
University Press, Oxford, 1946
- Outlines of a Philosophy of Art (the one book on this list that I haven't got, except in a Turkish translation)
- An Essay on Philosophical Method. This was
reissued in 2005, ‘with an Introduction and additional material
edited by James Connelly and Giuseppina D'Oro’. For this new
edition, the pages of the original book seem to have photographically
reproduced (rather than typeset again), and on page 4, the colophon
© Teresa Smith 2005
Introduction and editorial material © James Connelly and
Giuseppina D'Oro 2005
Teresa Smith is Collingwood's daughter.
Principles of Art (Oxford). This seems to have been
continually in print. The paperback edition continues to say on page 4:
First published by the Clarendon Press, 1938
First issued as an Oxford University Press paperback, 1958
No copyright is claimed, although the Amazon preview says ‘copyrighted material’.
- An Autobiography (Oxford).
- An Essay on Metaphysics (Oxford). Revised edition
published 1998, “with an Introduction and additional material
edited by Rex Martin”:
First edition © Clarendon Press 1940
Revised edition © Teresa Smith 1998; introduction and new
annotation © Rex Martin 1998
I have digitized and annotated two of the examples of metaphysics from this book, on causation and the existence of God.
- The First Mate's Log: Of a Voyage to Greece in the Schooner Yacht ‘Fleur de Lys’ in 1939 (Introduction by Peter Johnson, 1994; Thoemmes Press 2003). I digitized the three chapters on Santorini.
- The New Leviathan, or Man, Society, Civilization, and Barbarism (Oxford). Revised edition, 2000, “With an Introduction and additional material edited by David Boucher.”
- The Idea of Nature
- The Idea of History (Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, revised edition, 1994). With Lectures 1926--1928. Edited with an introduction by Jan van der Dussen.
- Essays in Political Philosophy
- The Principles of History and other writings in philosophy of
history (Oxford). Edited and with an introduction by W. H.
Dray and W. J. van der Dussen. My edition has the colophon:
© Teresa Smith 1999
introduction and editorial material
W. H. Bray and W. J. van der Dussen 1999
The moral rights of the author have been asserted
Database right Oxford University Press (maker)
- The Philosophy of Enchantment: Studies in Folklore, Cultural Criticism, and Anthropology (Clarendon Press, Oxford). Edited by David Boucher, Wendy James, and Philip Smallwood. Paperback edition 2007.
Some passages from Collingwood's works, transcribed by me, on:
- copyright (from The Principles of Art)
- civilization (from The New Leviathan)
- history as history of thought, and historical knowledge as re-enactment (from An Autobiography)
Notes by me, about or inspired by Collingwood, on:
- “The Devil”
- Religion and Philosophy
- the relation of logical paradoxes (such as the Russell Paradox) to Collingwood's idea of a criteriological science
- The Principles of Art
- An Essay on Metaphysics (this is on my Wikipedia page)
- Causation (from An Essay on Metaphysics)
- mathematics and art
- The New Leviathan (on my blog, Polytropy)
Collingwood and me
These notes were written some years ago, for an earlier version of this page:
Some time after graduating from college in 1987, I saw my high-school art teacher, who lent me his copy of Collingwood's book The Principles of Art. I read this with fascination and ordered my own copy.
Collingwood sounds right to me as I read, but I have had trouble trying to state his positions plausibly to others. Even for myself, I am not sure what Collingwood has accomplished. Nonetheless, I have gone on to read with pleasure his
- Idea of History
- Essay on Metaphysics
- New Leviathan (a passage from this)
The Principles of Art shows Collingwood's enthusiasm for T.S. Eliot. It seems that Eliot was Collingwood's student, since among Eliot's papers in the Harvard College Library are notes from a lecture by Collingwood on Aristotle's De Anima. The men were born in consecutive years, Eliot first. I have the idea that the two thinkers illuminate each other.
Note added, 2014.05.05: The link to the Harvard archives seems not to go where it used to. However, the National Archives of the UK has a book with annotations by Eliot mentioning Collingwood. The following is from R. G. Collingwood: An Autobiography and Other Writings: With essays on Collingwood's life and work, edited by David Boucher and Teresa Smith (Oxford, 2013), p. 438:
Collingwood's admiration for T. S. Eliot's poetry, praised with unusual warmth and respect in the conclusion to the Principles of Art (published in the year before An Autobiography) is well attested.…(It is noteworthy, as an aside, that Eliot attended Collingwood's lectures on Aristotle's De Anima, the first he gave in full-time academic employment at Oxford, and Eliot's copious notes to Aristotle's text, mainly written in Latin and Greek, with Collingwood's commentary upon the same, survive in the John Haywood [sic] bequest of the Library of King's College, Cambridge; Collingwood's own manuscript translation and commentary on ‘Aristotelis de Anima’ is dated 1913.)
At McMaster I read a library copy of Collingwood's Autobiography and was most provoked by his logic of question and answer.
I bought Collingwood's book The Idea of History in an Ankara bookshop, read most of it, and found myself in sympathy. Collingwood's student edited the text with the view that Collingwood's last thinking was not his best. Since in his last years Collingwood bitterly opposed the British government's support of fascist Spain (as he says in the Autobiography), I worry about the tendencies of that student.
I was once excited to find that many (or all) of Collingwood's books were on line at Questia; then I learned about the monthly fees.
I haven't found much else about Collingwood on line. A directory of philosophers once had a link to a “Collingwood network”; but the link was dead, and I could not otherwise find the network. Now that link is gone; but there is a link to an article on Collingwood, the Philosopher of the Month of February, 2004, in The Philosopher's Magazine.