Collingwood's Idea of History & Speculum Mentis

nature

Jedi Council Member
I'm at the middle of SM, it's seems less difficult to read than IoH
He indeed speaks about the connectedness of things, and even of reconciliation of opposites.
And when he talks about history, I also feel it as though he talks also about ourselves as individuals, about balance we can find in us. I don't know if I mistake by seeing it like this (collective level + individual level).

History is the synthesis of all these oppositions [...] That is because, setting truth above everything, it subordinates the element of emotion or immediacy to the element of critical reflection consciously developed. It reconciles providence with chance, divine ordinance with diabolical intervention, because, not being intuition but thought, it takes no sides ; it enters into the joys and griefs, the hopes and fears, of both parties to every struggle, sees them not as saints and devils but as striving and suffering human beings. It reconciles necessity with contingence because it does not abstract; it does not come to the facts with a ready-made law in its hand and try to force them into it, throwing them away in disgust when they are too hard ; it rejoices in their hardness and finds its satisfaction in their very diversity and uniqueness.
edit: reference: VI HISTORY § i. History as the Assertion of Fact
 

Martina

Jedi Master
I read some pdf essay about Collingwood by D. Naugle R. G. COLLINGWOOD AND THE HERMENEUTIC TRADITION to understand clearly what is the connection with hermeneutics and how it was important to break away from positivism in historicism. Free download.
 

Hello H2O

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
Martina said:
I read some pdf essay about Collingwood by D. Naugle R. G. COLLINGWOOD AND THE HERMENEUTIC TRADITION to understand clearly what is the connection with hermeneutics and how it was important to break away from positivism in historicism. Free download.
1

Hi Martina. It looks to be an interesting essay, but I didn't see a link to it in your post.

I will post the link to the pdf here:

http://www3.dbu.edu/naugle/pdf/collingwood.pdf
 

Martina

Jedi Master
Thank you Water :), I didn't post a link, I downloaded a couple of pdf-s about Collingwood at a same time, I'm searching them right now.
 

Martina

Jedi Master
http://rhetoric.berkeley.edu/files/Collingwood.pdf
This is something about Collingwoods background, he worked in naval intelligence during World War I. He worked in an intellectual context predisposed to the more mystical dimensions of mental activity.
 

Martina

Jedi Master
I'm not going to be able to read other books, so I'm gathering free information :)
https://eclass.uoa.gr/modules/document/file.php/PHS219/Kindi_Collingwood_Biography.pdf
 

PERLOU

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Merci pour vos liens en Anglais qui me permettront de m'exercer et perfectionner mon anglais...
Sur Duolingo j'en suis à 60%...
https://www.duolingo.com


Thank you for your links in English that will allow me to practice and perfect my English...
On Duolingo I'm at 60%...
https://www.duolingo.com
 

John G

The Living Force
Approaching Infinity said:
What is the “principle of evaluation” that selects one universe over another? The best analogy is a mind. Scale that up and we get the idea of a cosmic mind. Its “goals” will determine what shape the particular universe takes: physical laws that allow for the stability of “matter”, the creation of solar systems, the creation of ecosystems, the functioning of genes, the survivability of organisms, etc.

Ward likes Plato’s “World of Forms”, but points out the problem: how can such an asbtract world influence and interact with the world of facts? (Sheldrake’s theory has the same problem, IMO.) Augustine had the best answer: the World of Forms is the Mind of God. Just as our minds conceive of purposes and can actualize them through our physical actions, God’s mind holds ultimate purposes and actualizes them through the “body” of the universe, which is made up of beings, i.e. us (but not just us).

That is why the “information" carried by DNA molecules is not information in the semantic sense. The code does provide a program for constructing an organism, but no person has constructed it and no consciousness needs to understand and apply the program. It has originated by ordinary evolutionary processes, and, like a computer program, it operates without the need for conscious interpretation.
Ward’s Darwinian bias doesn’t do him any favors. Computer programs need to be programmed by intelligence. My one criticism of the authors of this book is their total lack of knowledge about the problems inherent in Darwinist thought.

Good bit here:

Taken together, these considerations suggest the idea of a primordial consciousness that is ontologically prior to all physical realities, that contains the “coded" information for constructing any possible universe, and that can apprehend and appreciate any physical universe that exists. It would certainly be a strong reason for creating a universe that might contain finite consciousnesses that could share in appreciating, and even in creating, some of the distinctive values potential in the basic structure of the universe: for such a creation would increase the total amount and the kinds of value in existence.

…Only intelligent consciousness can have a reason for bringing about some state, and that reason would precisely be the actualization and appreciation of some as yet merely possible value.
That’s where humans fit in. It’s up to us to actualize the as yet “merely possible” value. We do it through knowledge acquisition and practice - I>X>S.

Ward is closer than he thinks here:

Consciousness and intelligent agency is generated by the central nervous system and the brain of Homo sapiens - and of course there may be further developments in knowledge and power yet to come, in other forms of organism, whether naturally or artificially produced. Rather as DNA may be seen as an informational code for constructing organisms, so the basic laws of physics - the laws of the interaction of complex as well as simple physical systems - can be seen as informational codes for developing societies of conscious intelligent agents out of simpler physical elements.
Scale it up a level: 4D bodies. Paul’s “body of spirit”. A “social memory complex”.

But then we have to see such conscious intelligence as a primary causal factor in the generation and nature of those simple physical elements. To adapt John Wheeler's suggestion a little, the simple originating phenomena of the universe may not even exist unless they are conceived, evaluated, and intentionally actualized by consciousness.
True in principle, I think. But David Ray Griffin developed this idea more fully: both cosmic mind (consciousness) and pure (physical) chaos are equally irreducible. To avoid a “Big Bang”, “creation-out-of-nothing” scenario, it makes more sense that the simplest state of matter was chaotic, lacking stable behaviors and features that persisted over time, as they do now. What we think of as the basic features of matter (particles’ stable characteristics) are habits developed over time, “calibrated” into a stable state that forms the physical substratum of all specified “matter”. As Whitehead put it, physical laws are the habits of nature. Those habits are “conceived, evaluated, and intentionally actualized” by consciousness.
My daughter had to read Augustine's "Confessions" for school so I read it too. I was prepared beforehand to totally dislike everything about Augustine but his Neoplatonic thinking was interesting. Yeah God's mind would be an alpha and omega of sorts for us, other life, and inanimate matter creating an all roads lead to Rome effect of sorts. Yeah there are all the possible roads to choose from and minds with the right knowledge/actions can make those choices in a more truly free/high value way.

A single particle of matter could even be considered to also be a conscious mind in a Pauli-Jung double aspect theory sense. Noticing the consciousness of a single electron would be like trying to find the mass of that electron using a bathroom scale; can't do it but that doesn't mean it isn't there. A single particle of course can't make truly free choices; it's basically random effects plus effects on it by other minds (including via our possible futures). So there's a scale up from 1st to 2nd to 3rd to 4th density (and beyond).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-aspect_theory

Ward shows his awareness of the problem later on when he writes: “Consciousness needs material objects with which to operate.” So Cosmic Mind might be necessarily “prior” to all physical entities, but only to all “specified” physical entities, i.e., entities that contain some degree of information (like mass, charge, etc.). A cosmic mind would still need a basic information substrate with which to operate, something to “shape” - primal matter of a sort.

It has been objected that a consciousness cannot exist without some form of material embodiment, but this objection seems to rest simply upon a failure of human imagination. It is true that all consciousness requires an object; we are always conscious of something. But there may be many sorts of objects of consciousness. Human consciousnesses are fully and properly embodied, and their objects are normally physical, or at least sensory. But we can imagine, and even to some extent experience, consciousness of non-physical objects such as mathematical realities and unactualized logical possibilities. The cosmic consciousness being envisaged here would have the set of all possible universes as its object, and so it could not be part of any such universe (it may take embodied form in some universes, and Christians hold that it does, but it would also have to transcend any such form in order that those universes could exist in the first place).
I think Ward had a failure of imagination here. Panentheism solves this problem: the world exists “within” Cosmic Mind, in relation to it as a human body is in relation to its own mind. It is both transcendent and immanent.

In that respect, and unsurprisingly, cosmic consciousness is quite unlike any embodied consciousness. It is a primary ontological reality, in fact the one and only primary ontological reality, from which all universes are generated. This consciousness is the conceiver of all possible states and the actualizer of some, for the sake of values that are to be consciously apprehended and appreciated. This is the supreme informational principle for constructing universes.
I wouldn’t say it’s “quite unlike” embodied consciousness. Probably more like than unlike. (And Ward assumes he knows what embodied consciousness is “like”.)
Math-wise I would say the world including our embodied consciousness is a symmetry broken version of the Cosmic Mind. It would be like our world of Ark's conformal gravity is a symmetry broken version of Ark's Clifford algebra (Ark related conformal gravity to the Cs hexagonal geometry and Clifford algebra via Free algebra to the Cs "Geometry gets you there, algebra sets you "free.") Clifford algebra has a very binary information theory-like structure.

A reason for the existence of evil:

All possibly actualizable coherent universes might be such that it would not be possible to eliminate all evils from them. But some would have higher degrees of value than others, or perhaps different kinds of incommensurable values worth having. So there would be an internal reason for the selection of some such states for existence.
This is compounded by the problem of free will. The more degrees of freedom beings have, the more capacity they have to choose “bad options”.

Another good bit:

I have suggested, following Augustine, that mind or consciousness is somehow involved in such an ultimate explanation, because it is mind that stores possibilities non-physically, and mind that can act for a reason. This is just to say that mind is a fundamental constituent of ultimate reality, and is necessarily prior to all physical entities. For they are actualizations of possibilities apprehended by cosmic mind, the only actuality that is not capable of being brought into being or of not existing or of being other than it is, as it is a condition of the existence of all possibilities whatsoever. Cosmic consciousness is the condition of any and all possibilities existing (which they necessarily do), and not merely a very complex thing that just happens to exist.
Another slight problem:

It is clear that any such “Platonic" view cannot accept that information is necessarily materially embodied, as the primary informational source, God, is not material. But it may still be the case that human consciousness is materially embodied, and that it is not simply something quite different in kind from material objects, as it lies in an emergent continuum with material entities that have no consciousness.
Panpsychism solves this problem (also called panexperientialism in the Whitehead/David Ray Griffin variety). Simple physical entities may not have consciousness per se (on the level of humans), but they have a sense of experience that is basically analogous: they receive, process, output of information. Ward almost gets there a bit later on:

Humans nevertheless stand in a continuum that begins from the much simpler capacity of physical objects to respond to stimuli from an environment of other objects. The registration of the stimulus, the largely automatic response, and the form of interaction with other objects, are elementary forms of what becomes, in humans, conscious apprehension, creative response, and personal relationships with other persons.

Because this continuum exists, we can use the term “information" to apply at various stages. Even the simplest physical object “registers information" from its environment, “interprets" it, and acts on the basis of it - but of course none of these simple capacities involves consciousness or awareness. There is nothing there that is truly creative, and there is no development, as there is with human persons, of a unique historical trajectory, no sense of an inward spiritual journey or a novel and unpredictable history.
There’s an unexamined hole in that “largely” that doesn’t justify the “of course” after it. The best philosophical answer to this is that there is no such thing as a “pure” stimulus-response. There is always a degree of experience, no matter how simple the being. Again, Whitehead got closer, IMO.

Lastly, a good manifesto for doing philosophy:

But such a sense of apprehension of transcendent goodness needs to be supported by a general view of reality that is coherent and plausible, and within which an idea of transcendent goodness has a central place. Precisely because our views of reality must be informed by scientific knowledge, theologians must engage with science in formulating metaphysical theories that, however tentative, show religious commitment to be reasonable and intellectually appealing.
Yeah even the very simple first density being can have Pauli-Jung double aspect theory consciousness and future effects past Pauli-Jung synchronicity effects.
 

Martina

Jedi Master
I can't find a link right now :) but I was reading few months ago some page about St. Augustine. In short terms he thought about souls as beings who have ability to think and have will, the significance of the will and that true metaphysics has to be based on self knowledge- this particular sounds like Collingwood. Socrates also considered soul as a center of all human activity or conscious action.
That's something from my poor notes.
I'm not smart enough to understand it better but in simple terms it seems that all the smart guys from history were trying to say that it is very important to learn how to be conscious, to learn how to think, dedicate yourself to it, with all your heart and then one day maybe some soul could be created, like Gurdjieff wrote about.
I hope you wouldn't mind my digression to explain how I remember thoughts. I have sort of good memory, in terms I can remember lot of details and events that happened, mostly what I hear. I think about my thoughts like photographs, I know what I'm going to remember because I sense I'm clicking the button. And I capture something what I thing is worth of being preserved. So when I have to remember something I go and develop the photograph. I don't know if this makes sense but this analogy is something familiar to me because I've spent four years of my life developing photographs. Thoughts are permanent when they are exposed to light. To understand something you need to wont to understand. I prey to understand and I have huge need, longing to understand it and to feel it longer. Everything else is automatic and will be forgotten.
I don't know, how do you think thoughts?
 

Aeneas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I am jumping in to this thread without having read more than the first couple of pages of it a couple of months ago, as I wanted to concentrate on reading the books first. Having just finished Speculum Mentis after reading IoH, I am inspired and 'begeistert'. Begeistern (same word in Danish) is a German word which translates as enthusiastic, but which means slightly more in German akin to add spirit (geist) or spiritual qualities to something "lifeless".

I really found the book to be a master piece. It is like an empty circus stage where Collingwood first comes in and turns the lights on, then put up the props (separation into Art, religion, science etc.), then uses the props to do his magic (solve the problems that he set out to do). Then at the end, he builds it up to a major crescendo after which he dismantles all the props (removes the barriers between the art, religion, science etc.) and then exits the stage leaving the lights on. Towards the end I almost got the feeling that Collingwood speaks like a sufi mystic.

How he says things are first of all very clear, even if I found certain sections hard going, and then he is very inclusive in his approach, more or less saying that every person is important as each has a different perspective that enriches the whole of which each is intimately part of. Many things that the C's have said, Collingwood had figured out too and voice at the age of 35, when Speculum Mentis came out. Such as: All there is, is lessons, thus gaining in knowledge.

The distinction that Collingwood makes between implicit and explicit made me think of the phenomena Trump as he due to his persona, the resistance for and against him etc. whether conscious or not, has made explicit what previously was implicit and intuitive understanding. Such that the US is a bully, that is corrupt, hypocritical, lying, untrustworthy, evil etc. (I will post more in the Trump thread so as not to hi-jack this thread). By this now being made explicit, knowledge has been gained by the world body or perhaps the 'world mind'.

Regarding implicit, then Collingwood implicitly says that knowledge should be shared, but he doesn't say it explicitly. At least not how I read it, yet it is implied that we learn from others who have shared their findings of knowledge and viewpoints. Thus the existence of historical knowledge.

Added: I forgot to mention to those who haven't yet read it, to persist as it is well worth the effort.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Aeneas said:
The distinction that Collingwood makes between implicit and explicit made me think of the phenomena Trump as he due to his persona, the resistance for and against him etc. whether conscious or not, has made explicit what previously was implicit and intuitive understanding. Such that the US is a bully, that is corrupt, hypocritical, lying, untrustworthy, evil etc. (I will post more in the Trump thread so as not to hi-jack this thread). By this now being made explicit, knowledge has been gained by the world body or perhaps the 'world mind'.
That specific observation of yours perfectly jives with the gist of this SOTT article IMO:

https://www.sott.net/article/373688-Love-Him-or-Loathe-Him-Trump-is-Liberating-us-All-From-The-Empires-Lies
 

Altair

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Aeneas said:
I really found the book to be a master piece. It is like an empty circus stage where Collingwood first comes in and turns the lights on, then put up the props (separation into Art, religion, science etc.), then uses the props to do his magic (solve the problems that he set out to do). Then at the end, he builds it up to a major crescendo after which he dismantles all the props (removes the barriers between the art, religion, science etc.) and then exits the stage leaving the lights on. Towards the end I almost got the feeling that Collingwood speaks like a sufi mystic.
Very good and spot-on analogy, Aeneas! And what remains on the stage? The boundless and all-encompassing MIND.

All there is is lessons. This is one infinite school. There is no other reason for anything to exist. Even inanimate matter learns it is all an "Illusion." Each individual possesses all of creation within their minds. Now, contemplate for a moment. Each soul is all powerful and can create or destroy all existence if know how. You and us and all others are interconnected by our mutual possession of all there is. You may create alternative universes if you wish and dwell within. You are all a duplicate of the universe within which you dwell. Your mind represents all that exists. It is "fun" to see how much you can access.

Q: (L) It's fun for who to see how much we can access?

A: All. Challenges are fun. Where do you think the limit of your mind is?

Q: (L) Where?

A: We asked you.

Q: (L) Well, I guess there is no limit.

A: If there is no limit, then what is the difference between your own mind and everything else?

Q: (L) Well, I guess there is no difference if all is ultimately one.

A: Right. And when two things each have absolutely no limits, they are precisely the same thing.
 

nature

Jedi Council Member
I hardly grasp the notion of Mind/ everything else/ no limit ...
I hope these limitations in my understanding will desappear as soon I continue reading more and more.
As I misssed lots of things in IoH and in SM, I'm currently re-reading the notes I made during these readings. There is a little point I don't understand, from § 4. Duty or Concrete Ethics

At the scientific or materialistic point of view, man regards himself as a machine. Now to call oneself a machine is to prove that one is not a machine, for no machine calls itself one. By saying ‘I am a slave to mechanical law man actually lifts himself above such law. But he does so only implicitly ; he does not realize that he is doing it; and because he grasps his freedom only implicitly he does not really enjoy it. He enjoys only a perverted and abstract freedom, the freedom to make the best of a bad job, the freedom of utility. He becomes an economic agent ; he acts selfishly
Why being utile is selfish?
 

T.C.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
nature said:
I hardly grasp the notion of Mind/ everything else/ no limit ...
I hope these limitations in my understanding will desappear as soon I continue reading more and more.
As I misssed lots of things in IoH and in SM, I'm currently re-reading the notes I made during these readings. There is a little point I don't understand, from § 4. Duty or Concrete Ethics

At the scientific or materialistic point of view, man regards himself as a machine. Now to call oneself a machine is to prove that one is not a machine, for no machine calls itself one. By saying ‘I am a slave to mechanical law man actually lifts himself above such law. But he does so only implicitly ; he does not realize that he is doing it; and because he grasps his freedom only implicitly he does not really enjoy it. He enjoys only a perverted and abstract freedom, the freedom to make the best of a bad job, the freedom of utility. He becomes an economic agent ; he acts selfishly
Why being utile is selfish?
I haven't read the book myself, and I'd need to read what was written after to see if there was any extra context.

But just going off the quote you gave, I'm reminded of a quote from Explaining Postmodernism by Stephen Hicks:

This interpretive point about Kant is crucial and controversial. An analogy may help drive the point home. Suppose a thinker argued the following: “I am an advocate of freedom for women. Options and the power to choose among them are crucial to our human dignity. And I am wholeheartedly an advocate of women’s human dignity. But we must understand that a scope of a woman’s choice is confined to the kitchen. Beyond the kitchen’s door she must not attempt to exercise choice. Within the kitchen, however, she has a whole feast of choices—whether to cook or clean, whether to cook rice or potatoes, whether to decorate in blue or yellow. She is sovereign and autonomous. And the mark of a good woman is a well-organised and tidy kitchen." No one would mistake such a thinker for an advocate of woman's freedom. Anyone would point out that there is a whole world beyond the kitchen and that freedom is essentially about exercising choice about defining and creating one's place in the world as a whole.
Just seems to tie in with the idea of making the best of a bad job, being able to make oneself useful within the limitations of the kitchen. Then the choices of which colour to paint the walls and what to make for dinner would be purely 'selfish', in the sense that that is what the confined person decides for themselves.

Don't know if that's what Collingwood meant, though.
 
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