R. G. Collingwood (1889–1943)

1. Collingwood’s Philosophical Life

R.G. Collingwood and A.N. Whitehead were British philosophers with somewhat different personal and philosophical trajectories. However, despite their differences—Collingwood never left Oxford, whereas Whitehead’s retired to the USA for perhaps the most philosophically productive period of his long life—the work of the two men overlapped significantly in content and approach. R.G. Collingwood was an Oxford philosopher active from 1912 until his premature death in 1943. He combined his work as a philosopher with a serious commitment to archaeology, becoming an acknowledged expert on Roman Britain. His first published book was Religion and Philosophy (1916); prior to that he had published in 1913 a translation of Croce’s book on The Philosophy of Giambattista Vico. The first major philosophical work of his maturity was Speculum Mentis (1924). This was a Hegelian phenomenology of experience modified by Collingwood’s active engagement with the philosophy of Croce and Gentile.

In 1933 Collingwood published An Essay on Philosophical Method in which he attempted to bring order to the method of philosophy through an examination of the distinctive character of philosophical concepts. In applying his method in The Idea of Nature, The Idea of History and his later works on political philosophy (such as The New Leviathan) he also sought to develop a rapprochement between history and philosophy and also between realism and idealism. Although Collingwood had been brought up in the tradition of Oxford realism, he developed his own form of idealism in the early 1920s. He was usually reluctant to identify himself publicly with any philosophical school, for fear of being misunderstood or underestimated, but by the mid-1930s he could often be found referring to himself as an objective idealist. Objective idealism, as he understood it, was in many ways similar to Whitehead’s realism.

In the late 1930s, Collingwood, writing under the shadow of a series of strokes, produced The Principles of Art, An Autobiography, An Essay on Metaphysics and The New Leviathan in quick succession. The Idea of Nature and The Idea of History were both published posthumously from lectures and manuscripts.

2. Categories Relevant to Whitehead Scholarship

2.1. Affinities Between Collingwood and Whitehead

From the late 1920s onwards Collingwood refers to Whitehead on many occasions. Whitehead, on the other hand, does not refer to Collingwood. The reason is that his major works pre-dated Collingwood’s major works. Despite outliving Collingwood, Whitehead was his senior by some twenty eight years. The two met on various occasions, undoubtedly at the International Congress of Philosophy held on Oxford in September 1930 and, prior to that, at meetings of the Aristotelian Society in London in the years immediately before Whitehead’s departure for the USA in autumn 1924. The key point however is that Collingwood expressed an enormous admiration for Whitehead and that there were important affinities between the two.

Writing to his friend Samuel Alexander in 1935, Collingwood remarked that “I am not overlooking PR. I only meant […] that S.T.D.[1] started that line of development of which PR […] is a tremendous and earth-sharing manifestation. Also, I think I understand most of the S.T.D, but God knows if I shall ever understand more than half of P & R. I shall go on trying. All of it that I do understand (with very small reservations) I accept with gratitude and enthusiasm. So you see I won’t allow you to crow over me as an admirer of Whitehead” (Collingwood, 1935c).

But what was it in Whitehead which so attracted Collingwood’s philosophical attention? Although he clearly learnt much from him, he did so because his own thought was already receptive to Whitehead’s. By the time of the publication of Whitehead’s later writings he had already developed the main lines of his own philosophical approach, in great part through dialogue with Croce, Gentile and de Ruggiero. The “actual idealism” of the latter two, with its emphasis on activity, process and the theory of mind as pure act, was central to his thinking from about 1920. Collingwood’s conception of reality at this time can be seen clearly in the opening remarks of the exploratory essay entitled Libellus de Generatione he wrote in July 1920 for his friend Guido de Ruggiero:

This little work is an attempt to sketch the outlines of a philosophy to which I attach the name of Absolute Empiricism. In giving it this title I intend to emphasize its connexion with the Empiricism of Hume; a connexion consisting in the absolute denial of any such concept as substance and the resolution of all reality into the actuality of experience. My fundamental doctrine is that reality is becoming, that is to say reality not so much is as happens, which implies that the reality of mind is the process of its experience, its life, and nothing else. Nor do I admit any dualism between mind and its object such that while mind is wholly process its object can be conceived as a static whole outside it. The object is process too, and these are not two processes but one process (Collingwood 1920, 2).

This shows that by the time Collingwood was exposed to Whitehead’s later philosophy, he had already developed convergent views of his own and was attuned to Whitehead’s message. One should, of course, distinguish between agreement over broad philosophical tendencies and detailed agreement or acceptance of particular doctrines. However, the convergence between Collingwood’s comment in Libellus de Generatione and one of the passages of Whitehead he later often quoted with obvious approval is too striking to be philosophically merely coincidental:

The older point of view enables us to abstract from change and to conceive of the full reality of Nature at an instant, in abstraction from any temporal duration and characterized as to its interrelations solely by the instantaneous distribution of matter in space. According to the Newtonian view, what had been thus omitted was the change of distribution at neighbouring instants. But such change was, on this view, plainly irrelevant to the essential reality of the material universe at the instant considered. Locomotion […] was accidental and not essential. Equally accidental was endurance […]. For the modern view process, activity, and change are the matter of fact. At an instant there is nothing. Each instant is only a way of grouping matters of fact. Thus, since there are no instants, conceived as simple primary entities, there is no Nature at an instant (MT 198-200; quoted in Collingwood 1945, 149).

2.2. Realism and Idealism

In accepting Whitehead’s general account of reality, Collingwood did not thereby commit himself to accepting his self-description as a realist: on the contrary, he maintained that their views converged on objective idealism. Thus in 1935, he remarked that:

the question should perhaps be raised whether the theory of perception which I have put forward is a realistic theory or not. […] Whitehead would call it realistic, as I gather from the fact that he calls his own view realistic and that my view is in essentials pretty much the same as his. Others would refuse it the name because they regard as realistic only a theory of perception which asserts that what we perceive exists just as we perceive it independently of its being perceived, whereas I, like Whitehead, think that the object of perception really is what we perceive it to be only as what Whitehead calls an element in an actual situation that includes as other constituent elements not only the context but also the perceiver (Collingwood 1935b, Part 1, §12, 4).

In An Autobiography Collingwood suggests that if realism means the doctrine that the known is independent of (and unaffected by) the knowing it, then Whitehead is not a realist. The reason is that the “philosophy of organism” commits Whitehead to the view that everything which forms an element in a given situation is connected with everything else in that situation, “not merely by a relation of compresence, but by interdependence. It follows that, where one element in a situation is a mind, and a second element something known to that mind, the knower and the known are interdependent.” This, he concludes, is “precisely the doctrine which it was the chief aim of the ‘realists’ to deny” (Collingwood 1939,45-6). Essentially the same point is developed at greater length in The Idea of Nature:

When Whitehead constantly asserts that reality is an organism, he does not mean to reduce all reality to biological terms; he only means that every existing thing resembles a living organism in the fact that its essence depends, not on its components merely, but on the pattern or structure in which they are composed. Hence […] it is idle to ask oneself whether the rose really is red or only seems red to our eyes; the same order of nature which contains the rose contains also human beings with their eyes and their minds, and the situation which we are discussing is a situation in which roses and men are equally real, and equally elements in the society of living things; and its colour and its beauty are real features of that society, not simply located in the rose (that is what Whitehead calls the ‘fallacy of simple location’) but located in the society of which the rose is one organic part. Consequently if you put to Whitehead the realist’s shibboleth, the question ‘Would a rose be red if there was nobody looking at it?’ he would answer very mildly ‘No; the whole situation would be different’. And consequently strict members of the realist faction regard Whitehead with suspicion, as a wobbler. Nature, for Whitehead, is not only organism, it is also process. The activities of the organism are not external accidents, they are united into a single complex activity which is the organism itself. Substance and activity are not two, but one (Collingwood 1945, 166-67).

2.3. The Nature of Metaphysics

Collingwood is well known for the reform of metaphysics proposed in An Essay on Metaphysics (1940) which limits it to the exposition of the underlying “absolute presuppositions” of thought. There is considerable agreement between Collingwood’s approach here (especially in its historical dimension) and Whitehead’s. Perhaps the main difference is that whilst Whitehead in his approach to speculative philosophy recommended the development and refinement by the philosopher of a “categoreal scheme,” Collingwood (at least officially) expressed the view that the metaphysician could only record absolute presuppositions and prove neither their truth or falsity nor make suggestions for improvement. Collingwood did not maintain this position consistently prior to the Essay on Metaphysics or even in the text of the Essay itself and (at the very least) it seems impossible to maintain such a strict separation between reportage and criticism as he suggested.[2]

Whatever the merits of Collingwood’s argument, there is no doubt that he and Whitehead shared much in their view of philosophy or metaphysics as the search for, and elucidation of, fundamental presuppositions. In Science and the Modern World (1926), Process and Reality (1929), Adventures of Ideas (1933) and Modes of Thought (1938), Whitehead constantly reminds us that philosophy is the search for presuppositions; he also makes a crucial historical claim which Collingwood accepts, about the relationship between the presuppositions of modern science and the Christian faith:

the greatest contribution of medievalism to the formation of the scientific movement […was] the inexpugnable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner, exemplifying general principles. Without this belief the incredible labours of scientists would be without hope. It is this instinctive conviction […] which is the motive power of research: that there is a secret, a secret which can be unveiled […] there seems but one source for its origin. It must come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived as with the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality of a Greek philosopher. Every detail was supervised and ordered: the search into nature could only result in the vindication of the faith in rationality. Remember that I am not talking of the explicit beliefs of a few individuals. What I mean is the impress on the European mind arising from the unquestioned faith of centuries. By this I mean the instinctive tone of thought and not a mere creed of words (SMW 12).

The historical and epistemological relation between faith and reason is one which Collingwood explored throughout his philosophical life, for example in “Reason is Faith Cultivating Itself” (1927), Faith and Reason (1928), his lectures on “The Nature of Metaphysical Study” (1934) and An Essay on Metaphysics (1940). In the first two pieces Collingwood argues the general case that science as knowledge of the parts presupposes faith as knowledge of the whole; in the third he gives examples of particular presuppositions held by seventeenth-century science; and in the fourth this is supplemented by an explicit statement of these presuppositions as derived from belief in the Christian God. It is hard to see that Whitehead would have disagreed with any of this: and there does indeed seem to be a very close-knit relationship between their conceptions, with much of it running in conceptual and temporal parallel.

In Faith and Reason Collingwood argues that reason and faith are inseparable elements in knowledge:

The details of the world are the proper theme of scientific thought; but its characteristics as a whole, its unity and the implications of that unity, are not matters for scientific inquiry. They are, rather, a foundation on which all scientific enquiry rests […]. The scientist may be unconscious that the experiment which he is making rests upon his certainty that the universe as a whole is rational; but his unconsciousness of the fact does not alter the fact. Without an absolute confidence in the ‘uniformity of nature’, or whatever name he gives to the rationality of the universe, he would never try any experiments at all (Collingwood 1928, 138 & 141).

In “The Nature of Metaphysical Study,” Collingwood argues that in the seventeenth century metaphysics and natural science worked together in harmony and that the natural sciences at that time were based on two principles. The first was that “Nature works according to fixed and definite laws, which are exemplified in all that really exists and happens; and that we know in advance of experiment what the general nature of these laws is […]. Independently and in advance of experiment because unless we did know this, we should not know that experiment could teach us what we wanted to find out” (Collingwood 1934a, 360). The second was that things in nature are really measurable and whatever is not measurable is not real:

This means that things in nature really are extended in space and moving in time, really possess shape and weight and number, but only seem to be, and in reality are not, coloured and scented and sonorous, hot and cold and the like. Whereas Aristotelian and medieval physics had tried in vain to produce a successful science of nature on the assumption that all these qualities were equally real, Galileo found it possible to advance and achieve solid results by substantially ignoring secondary qualities as mere appearances, and concentrating on primary qualities as alone real (Collingwood 1934a, 360).

Collingwood continues by discussing the relationship between these principles and the respective tasks of science and metaphysics:

These two principles are the assumptions on which seventeenth-century science rested, and if that science was to be regarded as real knowledge of the real world these two assumptions must be true. But obviously physical science could not prove their truth; it could only begin to use its own methods when they had been assumed. Their truth was a matter for investigation by metaphysics. Consequently seventeenth-century metaphysics from Descartes to Locke, took this as one of its main tasks, to prove the truth of these two assumptions (Collingwood 1934a, 361).

The main difference between this passage and Collingwood’s later formulation in An Essay on Metaphysics is that there he denied (for logical reasons of his own) that absolute presuppositions were propositions capable of taking truth values. They could therefore not be proved true by the philosopher, but merely shown to be presupposed in everyday thinking or the thinking of the special sciences. It might help to recognize that his main point was twofold: first, that whatever they are, they are unlike ordinary propositions (with this Whitehead would surely agree); and, secondly, that they provide the logical framework for all our arguments and reasoning, which would be unintelligible in their absence (again, Whitehead would agree). The similarities between many of Whitehead’s statements and Collingwood’s own are thus striking, as we can see in Adventures of Ideas, where Whitehead argues that “all argument must rest on premises more fundamental than the conclusions. Discussion of fundamental notions is merely for the purpose of disclosing their coherence, their compatibility, and the specializations which can be derived from their conjunction” (AI, 379). Whitehead also argues that the task of the philosopher is therefore one of “assemblage” and “disclosure” (MT, 2, 67). Whitehead’s formulation in Process and Reality is, in part, more ambitious, but fundamentally the same:

The true method of philosophical construction is to frame a scheme of ideas, the best that one can, and unflinchingly to explore the interpretation of experience in terms of that scheme […]. all constructive thought, on the various special topics of scientific interest, is dominated by some such scheme, unacknowledged, but no less influential in guiding the imagination. The importance of philosophy lies in its sustained effort to make such schemes explicit, and thereby capable of criticism and improvement (PR, xiv).

Collingwood would have agreed with Whitehead’s characterization of metaphysics as a scheme of first principles which will be ‘the accurate expression of the final generalities’ and which will be the goal of discussion and not its origin. Whitehead’s conception of the task of philosophy is here very close to Collingwood’s characterization of the task of metaphysics. And both philosophers are clearly aware that the ideas which the metaphysician assembles and discloses have a peculiar character deriving from their status in systems of thought. From this follows both the issue of the sense (if any) in which they can be said to be true or false, and the sense (if any) which it makes to talk of constructing a metaphysical system or criticizing or improving a system independently of the work of scientists themselves. In what sense can the metaphysician anticipate the results or presuppositions of the natural sciences? This is a point on which Collingwood for one was always ambiguous: his official doctrine led one way, and his practice (and perhaps the logic of his own position) led another.[3]

2.4. Criticisms of Whitehead

Collingwood made criticisms (both implicit and explicit) of Whitehead in a number of places. We come to explicit criticisms below. First let us briefly consider an implicit criticism made in An Essay on Philosophical Method (1933). Here Collingwood argues that philosophy does not require and should seek to avoid technical language. By technical language he means stipulative definition and the associated coinage of new terms. Whereas in natural science new terms must be coined to describe things new to experience, in philosophy this is not so, because in philosophy we come to know better something which we already know, and hence we are not dealing with entirely new objects for which we need a new technical vocabulary. On the contrary, philosophical language must be supple and expressive, using words with many shades of meaning and with a sensitivity to ordinary language and ordinary use. For Collingwood technical language is secondary, not primary. Technical vocabulary presupposes the prior existence of language, and not all language could consist in technical terms (Collingwood 1933, 203-208). Thus, whereas Collingwood opposed new technicalities, Whitehead (whom Collingwood in these passages must have had in mind) seemed to revel in them. Many people have, of course, criticized Whitehead for his predilection for technical coinages; Collingwood differs in that his criticism is implicit within a full theory of language, first adumbrated in An Essay on Philosophical Method and later developed more fully in The Principles of Art. It is also worth remarking that Collingwood’s own practice largely matched his principles here, and in consequence his books are generally a pleasure to read, written with a vigor and pungency frequently absent in philosophical writing.

To move on to Collingwood’s substantive criticism of Whitehead’s philosophical position. The most developed exposition and criticism is to be found in The Idea of Nature. There he argues that although the main thrust of Whitehead’s philosophy is coherent and simple, nonetheless in developing their implications certain difficulties arise. The first of these concerns the theory of eternal objects. For Collingwood, Whitehead appears to believe that every “empirical quality” (Alexander’s term)—for example the blueness of the sky at a certain moment—is an eternal object. His objection is that this leads logically to absurdity. As Plato asks in the Parmenides, are there forms of hair, mud and excrement as well as forms of right, beauty and good? If we deny that hair, mud and excrement have forms, do we not face a logical problem?

The meaning of the passage is clear enough: some things must be regarded as eternal presuppositions of the cosmic process; others may be regarded as its products, and perhaps only as its products; others are merely its by-products, not even necessary or intelligible in themselves, but intelligible (so far as they are intelligible at all) only as accidents in a creative process whose true products lie elsewhere. Alexander would regard all these alike as products; Whitehead would regard them all as presuppositions. Socrates, when he tried to adopt Whitehead’s view, was put to flight, as he says, by fear of falling into an ocean of nonsense. By this he […] meant that a world of eternal forms which included in itself forms of every empirical detail in nature would only be a lumber-room of natural details converted into rigid concepts, and that a world of forms so conceived, instead of explaining the processes of nature, would be a mere replica of these processes themselves with the process left out (Collingwood 1945, 171-72).

Collingwood suggests that there is one way in which this absurd conclusion can be avoided and this would be to show that if the form of the good (for example) implies the form of animal as its logical consequence and that, in turn, the form of animal implied the form of excrement, “then it could be held that there were forms of these things, and that in their logical connexion and logical subordination they did really serve to explain the processes of nature. In other words, the heart of the problem is the question how the world of eternal objects, the realm of essence, is organized in itself” (Collingwood 1945, 172).

The drawback of taking this line, however is that of saddling oneself, as Hegel did, with the

terrible task of logically deducing every empirical quality to be found in the world from some absolute first principle, or else giving up the attempt to take seriously the doctrine of eternal objects. For there is nothing to be gained by merely insisting that the sky now has this peculiar blueness by participating (as Plato put it) in the form of that shade of blue, or, as Whitehead puts it, by the ingredience of that shade as an eternal object in the present occasion of my seeing the sky; by saying that, you are appealing to the conception of a world of forms or eternal objects as the source or ground of natural process, and you must go on to give an account of this world and show why that shade of blue appears in it. […] how Whitehead would answer the question I do not know (Collingwood 1945, 173).

The second main problem which, for Collingwood, Whitehead left unsolved concerned the creative process of nature. Evolutionists such as Lloyd Morgan, Alexander, or Smuts believed that this process passed through certain stages. Thus there was a time when there was no organic life, and that it arose through the working of the creative process itself. But, Collingwood remarks, this does not seem to have been Whitehead’s view because in Nature and Life he treated inorganic nature not as a real thing once existing by itself and still existing as the environment of life, but as an abstraction, as “nature itself conceived apart from the vital elements which everywhere pervade it. He asks what we mean by life, and having defined it by the three marks of self-enjoyment, creative activity, and aim, he goes on to argue that all three are really present in the so-called inorganic world, though physical science, for its own perfectly legitimate purposes, ignores them.” In Collingwood’s view this was a way of avoiding rather than solving the problem, because there are types of process which occur in living things and do not occur elsewhere and Whitehead’s three marks did not strike him as an adequate account of them. He concludes by suggesting that Whitehead has escaped the difficulty “by restricting the connotation of the term ‘life’ to something which does indeed belong to life but is not its differentia but only the genus common to itself and matter” and that he has therefore fallen back into the very subjectivism he is trying to avoid, by calling matter a mere abstraction. For Collingwood, although there is an element of truth in this conclusion, it required a lot more elaboration and development before it could be regarded as satisfactory:

If matter is a mere abstraction, we must ask, what are the real facts in nature which oblige us to make that abstraction? The same difficulty arises in connexion with mind. The characteristic mark of mind is that it knows, apprehends reality. Now, says Whitehead, this too, like the characteristics of life, is nothing really unprecedented. Everything enjoys what he calls ‘prehensions’, that is to say, somehow absorbs what is outside itself into its own being. An iron filing prehends the magnetic field in which it lies, that is, it converts that field into a mode of its own behaviour, responds to it; a plant prehends the sunlight, and so on. The peculiarity of what we ordinarily call ‘minds’ is that they prehend an order of things which no lower type of organism can prehend, namely propositions. Here again there is profound and important truth in Whitehead’s view; his refusal to regard mind as something utterly disparate from nature, his insistence that mind as we know it in man is something that has come to be what it is by developing functions belonging to life in general and even in the last resort to the inorganic world, is altogether admirable; but once more, as in the case of life, he is on the horns of a dilemma. Either mind is at bottom the same as these elementary prehensions, in which case there is no creative advance, and life is a mere abstraction from mind as matter is from life, or else it is also something genuinely new, in which case we have to explain its relation to that out of which it grew. And once more Whitehead does not appear to see the dilemma. No one has more vividly realized and described the resemblances, the fundamental continuity, running all through the world of nature, from its most rudimentary forms in the electron and proton and the rest of them to its highest development known to us in the mental life of man; but when we ask him whether this series of forms represents a series really developed in time he seems uncertain of his answer; and if we go on to ask the precise nature of the connexion between one form and the next, he has no answer to give except to insist that in general all such connexions are formed by the creative process which is the world itself (Collingwood 1945, 173-74).

It is to this latter criticism that Collingwood himself responds positively by trying to work out his own cosmology, a summary of which was the original conclusion to his lectures on Life and Mind given in 1934. In this conclusion he presents a developmental account of matter, mind and God and en route he discusses Whitehead. He criticizes Whitehead for providing no properly thought-out view of the world of eternal objects and its relation to the natural world of change. He praises Whitehead, however, for facing the problem of eternal or necessary being which, in his view, Alexander evades by reducing everything to space-time: “Our problem is: if nature is all process, how can there be anything eternal? Whitehead replies that there can be a realm of eternal objects prior to and therefore outside nature; this is certainly true; but he has no right to include in this realm such purely natural and empirical qualities as blueness or toothache.” This repeats the criticism he makes elsewhere: the interesting issue is what he says next:

The concept of process implies, if properly considered, that one and the same thing can be the product of a process and also an eternal object. Thus the dualism which Whitehead thinks the only way out of his problem is avoided, and we can say that the world of process is the world of eternal objects. Whitehead does not realize this, possibly because he has not considered the nature and implications of history (Collingwood 1934b, 263).

He goes on to argue that history is a process and that the “substance of it is human activity; the process of this substance is the change which human activity undergoes, not in virtue of external causes working upon it, but in virtue of its own autonomous self-development.” He then considers the constitutional development of England and concludes that

this kind of process in which the thing undergoing the process forms itself, or comes into existence, as the process goes on, is called becoming. It is characteristic of becoming that it is creative or rather self-creative. What it has brought into existence passes out of existence again, but does not pass out of being. Thus, the Revolution of 1688 was produced by the self-development of the English constitution in the seventeenth century; as an event in time, it happened, and then stopped happening; since the existence of an event is its happening, that revolution does not now exist, it is an event which is not going on now. But historians can still think about it; that is to say, it is still an object for historical thought. Its being, in this sense, is timeless; that is to say, it is in the strict sense of the words an eternal object. Thus all historical events become eternal objects; and if this is the case with history, it is the case with all self-creative processes. If the entire process of nature is a becoming, as Whitehead sees that it is, then this becoming must generate eternal objects. It does not presuppose them all, as Whitehead thinks, nor does it generate merely transient objects, as both he and Alexander assume (Collingwood 1934b, 263-64).

A final point to note is that Collingwood also criticized both Alexander and Whitehead for their conflation of history with temporal change. For Collingwood history is not change simpliciter; it is a certain type of change, change in time as a result of conscious or rational activity. Hence, for Collingwood, “all history is the history of thought.” In his view, Whitehead and Alexander misunderstand this point and hence fail to make the appropriate distinctions between historical and natural processes.

3. Conclusion

The foregoing has sought to show the interesting convergences between Collingwood and Whitehead and also to display some of their divergences and some of Collingwood’s criticisms. Whether Collingwood fully understood Whitehead is, of course, a moot point. Guido Vanheeswijck points out that he misconstrued God as an infinite eternal object and points out that Whitehead nowhere uses that phrase (Vanheeswijck 1998, 226). Be that as it may, there is no doubt that Collingwood was a sympathetic reader of Whitehead whose interpretation not only had an impact on his own cosmological and metaphysical work, but also presented a succinct and sympathetic view of Whitehead in the context of the history of the idea of nature. The passages on Whitehead in The Idea of Nature are both highly succinct, readable, and reached a large audience. For this alone Collingwood is to be thanked.


[1] I.e. Samuel Alexander’s Space, Time and Deity (London, Macmillan 1920).

[2] For discussion of these and other matters, see Connelly, 2003.

[3] See, for example, the comments on Hegel in An Essay on Metaphysics (1940), 271-72 and The Idea of Nature (1945), 127-32.

Works Cited and Further Readings

Works by R.G. Collingwood

1916. Religion and Philosophy (London, Macmillan).

1920. Libellus de Generatione (Collingwood MSS, Bodleian Library, Oxford).

1927. “Reason is Faith Cultivating Itself,” reprinted in 1968 in Faith and Reason: Essays in the Philosophy of Religion (Chicago, Quadrangle Books).

1928. “Faith and Reason,” reprinted in 1968 in Faith and Reason: Essays in the Philosophy of Religion (Chicago, Quadrangle Books).

1933. An Essay on Philosophical Method, edited in 2005 by James Connelly and Giuseppina D’Oro (Oxford, Clarendon Press).

1934a. “The Nature of Metaphysical Study,” in An Essay on Metaphysics (1998 [1940]).

1934b. “Sketch of a Cosmological Theory,” in The Principles of History, edited by W.H. Dray and W.J. van der Dussen (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1999).

1935a. “Method and Metaphysics” in An Essay on Philosophical Method (2005 [1933]).

1935b. Realism and Idealism, unpublished lectures (Bodleian Library, Oxford).

1935c. Letter to Samuel Alexander, 13th February 1935 (Bodleian Library, Oxford).

1938. The Principles of Art (Oxford, Clarendon Press).

1939. An Autobiography (Oxford, Clarendon Press).

1940. An Essay on Metaphysics, edited by Rex Martin (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1998).

1942. The New Leviathan, edited by David Boucher (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1992)

1945. The Idea of Nature (Oxford, Clarendon Press).

1946. The Idea of History, edited by W.J. van der Dussen (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1993).

Works on R.G. Collingwood

Boucher, David, Connelly, James, Modood, Tariq (eds). 1995 Philosophy, History and Civilization: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on R.G. Collingwood (Cardiff: University of Wales Press).

Connelly, James. 1997. “Natural Science, History and Christianity: the Origins of Collingwood’s Later Metaphysics,” Collingwood Studies, 4, 101-132

Connelly, James. 2003. Method, Metaphysics and Politics: The Political Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood (Exeter, Imprint Academic).

Johnson, Peter. 1998. R.G. Collingwood, An Introduction (Bristol: Thoemmes Press)

Krausz, Michael (ed). 1972. Critical Essays on the Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood (Oxford: Clarendon Press) 

Mink, Louis 1969. Mind, History and dialectic: The Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood (Bloomington: Indiana University Press)

Vanheeswijck, Guido. 1998. “R.G. Collingwood and A.N. Whitehead on Metaphysics, History, and Cosmology,” Process Studies, 27, 3-4, 215-36.

Author Information

James Connelly
Department of Politics and International Studies
University of Hull, Hull, UK

How to Cite this Article

Connelly, James, “R. G. Collingwood (1889–1943)”, last modified 2008, The Whitehead Encyclopedia, Brian G. Henning and Joseph Petek (eds.), originally edited by Michel Weber and Will Desmond, URL = <http://encyclopedia.whiteheadresearch.org/entries/bios/scholarly-legacy/r-g-collingwood/>.