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By R. G. Collingwood

The concept of History is the best-known paintings of the nice Oxford thinker, historian, and archaeologist R.G. Collingwood. It was once initially released posthumously in 1946, having been customarily reconstructed from Collingwood's manuscripts, a lot of that are now misplaced. this significant paintings examines how the belief of historical past has developed from the time of Herodotus to the 20 th century, and gives Collingwood's personal view of what heritage is. For this revised variation, Collingwood's most vital lectures at the philosophy of historical past are released the following for the 1st time. those texts were ready through Jan van der Dussen from manuscripts that experience only in the near past turn into to be had. The lectures comprise Collingwood's first finished assertion of his philosophy of historical past; they're as a result crucial for a whole figuring out of his idea, and specifically for an accurate interpretation of The inspiration of History itself. Van der Dussen contributes a considerable advent within which he explains the heritage to this re-creation and surveys the scholarship of the final fifty years.

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Sample text

For example, we see a hedgehog when frightened roll itself into a prickly ball. We do not think this is due to the individual cleverness of this particular hedgehog; all hedgehogs do it, and do it by nature; it is as if nature had endowed the hedgehog with that particular defensive mechanism in order to protect it against carnivorous enemies. In calling it a defensive mechanism we are using the language of metaphor; for a mechanism means a device, and a device implies an inventor; but Kant's point is that without using metaphors of this type we cannot talk or think about nature at all.

But with man the process reaches a culmination, because man is an end in himself: for man, in his rational and moral life, justifies his own existence. Since the purpose of nature in creating man is to create a rational being, human nature develops itself as a system of spiritual powers whose full development still lies in the future. Man is thus a link between two worlds, the natural world out of which he has grown and the spiritual world which through him is not indeed coming into existence, for it exists eternally in the shape of spiritual laws, but is realizing itself on the earth.

The favoured centre in which this historical life arises is Europe, owing to its geographical and climatic peculiarities; so that in Europe alone human life is genuinely historical, whereas in China or India or among the natives of America there is no true historical progress but only a static unchanging civilization or a series of changes in which old forms of life are replaced by new forms without that steady cumulative development which is the peculiarity of historical progress. Europe is thus a privileged region of human life, as man is privileged among the animals, the animals among living organisms, and organisms among earthly existents.

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