The Ideality of History

Dray William H.

in History as Re-Enactment

Published in print March 1999 | ISBN: 9780198238812
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679780 | DOI:
The Ideality of History

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This chapter explores how far R. G. Collingwood holds that the investigations of historians, so conceived, are capable of attaining objective truth about the past; whether, on his view, historians can reasonably claim to recover the past ‘as it actually was’, or whether their conclusions must be considered subjective, or relativist, or, in some other damaging sense, non-objective. Collingwood himself, although claiming to have repudiated the philosophical realism in which he was reared, denied that he was to be considered an idealist. This chapter argues that Collingwood was not an idealist, and that his view of re-enactment as historical understanding as re-enactment is, by implication, objectivist. It also analyses historical scepticism, constructionism, and anti-constructionism in his re-enactment doctrine.

Keywords: history; R. G. Collingwood; re-enactment; historical understanding; realism; idealism; objectivity; historical scepticism; constructionism; anti-constructionism

Chapter.  17601 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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