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

By William H. Dray

This publication explains and defends a significant principles within the conception of background recommend by means of R. G. Collingwood, probably the major thinker of background within the twentieth century. Professor Dray analyses seriously the belief of re-enactment, explores the boundaries of its applicability, and determines its dating to different key Collingwoodian principles, akin to the function of mind's eye in old pondering, and the indispensability of some degree of view.

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Extra resources for History as Re-enactment. R. G. Collingwood's Idea of History

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He maintains, by contrast, that hktory of natural occurrences and history of human activities differ profoundly in their logical and conceptual structures—so much so, indeed, that he is sometimes unwiUing to call the former history at aU (A 109). § 5. '. First of aU, he says, it is a type of research or inquiry, a way of finding out certain things, not, for example, simply a way of preserving memories or traditions, or of organizing knowledge which we possess aheady. Its subject-matter is 'humanistic': human activity in the past—the understanding of which, he goes on to argue, requires of them a re-thinking of past 22 History and Philosophy thought, or a re-enactment of past experience.

A peculiarity of his presentation of it at that point is his reporting that the idea first came to him whUe asking himself how one understands the present performance of a piece of music composed at some earUer time (L28 440-3). This, he says, requires that the auditor reconstruct it mentaUy, or, at least, foUow a present performance of it actively, in that sense performing it again in imagination. He then came to see that the same idea appUes to the way other sorts of human activities are understood^battles or revolts, for example—which are more central to the interests of historians.

Even in the passages summarized, actions are also described as expressing thoughts; and historians are assigned the task of interpreting their outsides as expressions. Nor should this be regarded as simply the addition of a causal dimension to the original quasispatial metaphor. By calUng an action's outside an expression of the agent's thought, CoUingwood doesn't mean that it was that thoughfs observable effect, furnishing the historian with a means of inferring the existence of an unobservable mental cause, the thought itsetf.

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