Collingwood's Idea of History & Speculum Mentis

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
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?
Go back to the initial definition: man is a machine, i.e. mechanical. His only freedom is that of a machine, the freedom to be part of a crowd of other machines that work, buy, consume. His only choices may be where to work, what to buy and consume so he should be happy with that. He is only homo economicus. There are references in Haidt's book "The Righteous Mind" that also relate to this when he talks about the philosophy of Jeremy Bentham. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism

It is more or less: eat, drink and be satisfied because tomorrow you will die and there is nothing else.
 

T.C.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
If anyone hasn't read Collingwood yet, and would like a quick-fire introduction to what Collingwood means by 'historical thinking', check out the first ten minutes of this lecturer's talk on the pre-Socratics.

He's quite manic, and even drops an F-bomb at one point; but to his credit, he nails 'historical thinking'.


https://youtu.be/SI9zZu9aOY8

After a summation of the previous lecture, he says:

"What I didn't really get around to was this third idea about, like, what it means to engage philosophically with really, really OLD texts.

"You guys know this movie, Good Will Hunting? Okay.

"There's a scene in that, where the late Robin Williams is talking to Matt Damon, and he asks Matt Damon - Will Hunting - he says, "Will, do you have a soul mate?"

"And Will's like, "I got plenty." And he starts rattling off a list of, like, people who kind of, like, 'touch him'. [...] And his list is like, John Locke, Nietzsche, Kant, Pope, O'Connor... dead people, right? A whole bunch of dead people.

"And Robin Williams' character says, like, "Yeah, but they're dead. You're not going to have a real conversation with them."

"That's an interesting little moment right there, because I think that's not entirely true.

"There's a way of reading this stuff, that does make it come alive.

"We're talking about having a conversation - like, a genuine conversation - with somebody, where I'm trying to see where they're coming from; what the 20th century philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer would call 'A fusion of horizons'. This kind of moment where somebody else is talking about something, and I try to take up their perspective and see it how they're describing it - see what it is that they're talking about and think with them.

"This is, like, a really impressive moment. We might even say something like, "This is one of the most PRECIOUS of human experiences. This is the moment when we really connect with people.

"I don't know if you've ever had, like, these long - perhaps fuelled by some controlled substance - like, long conversations till, like, 3am, with somebody. You stayed up in the dorm. You talked... like, THESE are your friends, right? The people that you have THOSE conversations with. These are the people who are kind of important in your life.

"This is how you REALLY interact. This is the BEST way to interact with people [...] But this is something uniquely human about that 'trying to share perspectives' and see where the other person's coming from.

"And when you actually do engage that - and it's not just a passivity, where you're just like, "I'm gonna see it the way Plato sees it"... In order to understand it, you need to kinda push back a little bit; there needs to be a critique; there needs to be a, like, "He says this, but, like, how could that be?" And then you're... "Oh, alright; I see how." "Oh...", and it's a back and forth. And THIS is how it becomes a conversation. This is how it becomes alive. This is how YOUR philosophical community - your community of interlocutors - becomes bigger.
And he goes on. I'd recommend it, FWIW.
 

PERLOU

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Merci TC pour votre message que j'ai pu traduire en Français...
Je l'ai vu sur le mur Facebook de Laura ce matin pais il parlait trop vite pour que je puisse comprendre...
Il n'y avait pas de traduction en Français...

Thank you TC for your message which I was able to translate into French...
I saw it on Laura's Facebook wall this morning as he was talking too fast for me to understand...
There was no French translation...
 

Menna

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I have inferred from the reading that Collingwood prefers deductive reasoning. Sorry I can not elaborate on more I am not done with the book will continue to read and will continue to report what I find.
 

Menna

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Collingwood put this explicitly when he wrote that 'history is the only kind of knowledge' and proceeded to explain what he meant by adding that 'logic is an attempt to expound the principals of what in the logician's own day passed for valid thought ; ethical theories differ but none of them is therefore erroneous, because any ethical theory is an attempt to state the kind of life regarded as worth aiming at, and the questions arises by whome?
This rings true to me. When someone has an ideal or a want or a logical thought it is based on their life and society today. Not on another life or those who have grown up in different societies. May I say there are different standards or kinds of logic based on different circumstances. History was done and serves as a barometer to measure one aspect of logic (situation/Circumstance/life) to measure the other type you would have to know the brain of the person who the logic came from. Its seems that logic comes from two places society/living and personal experiences interacts with one thing the persons mind and then is used as action or used in another way but that logic is a personal logic its not universal because there are variables embedded in the logic the source of the logical thoughts are variable.

To me this above makes sense not just from an intellectual standpoint but emotional too.
 

Mikkael

Padawan Learner
After reading through the Idea of History and now reaching the chapter VIII in Speculum Mentis, instead of going forward tonight with reading, I am turning pages back until I stop with the question in mind. The question I am asking myself is this; what did I really learned from the book so far? Well certainly a lot about history of historical and critical thinking, about philosophy and its developments and its errors, about art and its vision of imagination, about religion and its symbolic language, and science with its abstract way of thinking. But wait! I know myself to forget things I read, and unless there is something I connect on deeper level, and only when I make connection it stays with me, and Laura said that it is definitely useful for the Work and to take notes is useful as well, so its time to back up a bit I guess.

One thing which shine on me is that Collingwood is showing me how we people tend to think as an artists, scientists, historians and so forth. How each of those is associated with particular way of grasping the world, and by showing me inconsistencies of each of those imaginative, symbolic and abstract thinking, fruit of its own limitations and thinking errors. As a matter of fact, it can help me to see and correlate with what I learned in theory in order to guard me from falling into traps in praxi. I identify myself in major part as an artist, I like what I create but that is not the end.

I like how Collingwood put it: "the means and the end coincide, the means becomes an end, and the end becomes the means to itself".
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Thanks, Mikkael, for an almost literary description of your thoughts and reactions to current reading! Some members of this forum are unsung wordsmiths and you are one of them!
 

Wodnik

Jedi
Re: Extraordinary, Important Book for those Doing The Work

Konstantin said:
Divide By Zero said:
Good to know the copyright ran out.

Here is the epub format book zipped up as attachment.
And here is the same book in PDF format. I converted it from epub that Divide By Zero attached.
Thanks Konstantin for PDF version .
 

Mikkael

Padawan Learner
Laura said:
Thanks, Mikkael, for an almost literary description of your thoughts and reactions to current reading! Some members of this forum are unsung wordsmiths and you are one of them!
I don't know now what I'm going to do with it, I let it sink. thanks
 

Gaby

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Mikkael said:
I don't know now what I'm going to do with it, I let it sink. thanks
I finished reading Speculum Mentis today after a long pause to read other books. I can't articulate anything specific, but the end was very touching. Collingwood leaves the best for last! It was like reading the most complete explanation ever on 1 Corinthians 13

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians+13&version=NIV

13 If I speak in the tongues(a) of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,(b) but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I'll have to review both Idea of History and Speculum Mentis and let it sink too.
 

genero81

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
What a great comparison Gaby! Personally I think it demonstrates that you did grasp (without articulating your own thoughts) what Collingwood was elucidating. There's so much contained in Speculum Mentis, I think I will certainly read it again at some point. But too much that still needs to be given a first read for now.

Modified for clarity
 

findit

Jedi
I was reading Mary Beard's "Confronting the Classics," (2013) and was surprised to see a short chapter on Collingwood titled, "Philosophy meets Archaeology." I thought I would list a few of her comments.


The Idea of Historyhas had some very distinguished supporters. By his own account, it was the book that inspired Quentin Skinner at the start of his own historical career - and Skinner of course went on to give his own distinctive spin to Collingwood's slogan about all history being 'a history of the mind'. And, if only in the absence of much competition (it is a classic, as Collini has observed, 'in a field not oversupplied with classics written in English'), it used to be the theoretical standby of undergraduates reading history at university, or of sixth-formers wanting to do so. It still appears on general bibliographies and is warmly recommended to their pupils by ambitious schoolteachers (though when, a few years ago, I asked a group of about 50 third-year students studying History in Cambridge whether any of them had read it, not a single one put up their hand). The problem in judging it now is that its big claims seem fairly uncontentious. In part, no doubt, that is a tribute to the book's popular success. But in part also those claims were never particularly original in the first place, and were expounded in such a way that it would be difficult to disagree. After all, who could possibly claim, in Collingwood's terms, to prefer 'scissors and paste' history to the 'question and answer' style of history that he advocated? Could anyone object to the idea that part of the point of studying history was to help us see (as Inglis puts it) 'how we might think and feel otherwise than we do'?

Re-reading The Idea of History after some thirty years or so, I found myself less impressed than I had been as a student, or at least more counter-suggestible. His image of the mindless, unquestioning narration of 'scissors and paste' history, and of generations of historians being content to merely to stick one source after another, now seems very largely a self-serving myth. It did not require the birth of narratology or the return of fashion of 'grand narrative', to realise that historical narration is always selective and always posing questions about the evidence. No history - not even the most austere chronicle - has ever been unquestioning as Collingwood paints his imaginary methodological enemy. Maybe also his 'question and answer' method is not as self-evidently productive as he claimed, and certainly not in that practical branch of history known as archaeology. ...

...In the context of Greats, Collingwood was not a maverick with two incompatible interests... (She has been comparing his philosophy to his work on archaeology) ...Given the educational aims of the course, he was a rare success, even if something of a quirky overachiever; his combination of interests was exactly what Greats was designed to promote.

To put that another way, Collingwood was not simply - as Inglis and others would imply - a philosopher with an archaeological hobby. We might better see him as an unusually successful product of a distinctive Oxford version of Classics that is now no more (Greats was 'reformed' decades ago). It should come as no surprise that the last voyage he made, with that group of students, was a trip to Greece, and that he went - as he put it in The First Mate's Log - 'not so much a tourist as a pilgrim' to Delphi, where Socrates had travelled two and a half thousand years earlier. 'If a man looks to Socrates as his prophet,' he wrote, 'the journey to Delphi is the journey to his Mecca.' That is the credo of a Greats-man.
 

goyacobol

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
findit said:
I was reading Mary Beard's "Confronting the Classics," (2013) and was surprised to see a short chapter on Collingwood titled, "Philosophy meets Archaeology." I thought I would list a few of her comments.


The Idea of Historyhas had some very distinguished supporters. By his own account, it was the book that inspired Quentin Skinner at the start of his own historical career - and Skinner of course went on to give his own distinctive spin to Collingwood's slogan about all history being 'a history of the mind'. And, if only in the absence of much competition (it is a classic, as Collini has observed, 'in a field not oversupplied with classics written in English'), it used to be the theoretical standby of undergraduates reading history at university, or of sixth-formers wanting to do so. It still appears on general bibliographies and is warmly recommended to their pupils by ambitious schoolteachers (though when, a few years ago, I asked a group of about 50 third-year students studying History in Cambridge whether any of them had read it, not a single one put up their hand). The problem in judging it now is that its big claims seem fairly uncontentious. In part, no doubt, that is a tribute to the book's popular success. But in part also those claims were never particularly original in the first place, and were expounded in such a way that it would be difficult to disagree. After all, who could possibly claim, in Collingwood's terms, to prefer 'scissors and paste' history to the 'question and answer' style of history that he advocated? Could anyone object to the idea that part of the point of studying history was to help us see (as Inglis puts it) 'how we might think and feel otherwise than we do'?

Re-reading The Idea of History after some thirty years or so, I found myself less impressed than I had been as a student, or at least more counter-suggestible. His image of the mindless, unquestioning narration of 'scissors and paste' history, and of generations of historians being content to merely to stick one source after another, now seems very largely a self-serving myth. It did not require the birth of narratology or the return of fashion of 'grand narrative', to realise that historical narration is always selective and always posing questions about the evidence. No history - not even the most austere chronicle - has ever been unquestioning as Collingwood paints his imaginary methodological enemy. Maybe also his 'question and answer' method is not as self-evidently productive as he claimed, and certainly not in that practical branch of history known as archaeology. ...

...In the context of Greats, Collingwood was not a maverick with two incompatible interests... (She has been comparing his philosophy to his work on archaeology) ...Given the educational aims of the course, he was a rare success, even if something of a quirky overachiever; his combination of interests was exactly what Greats was designed to promote.

To put that another way, Collingwood was not simply - as Inglis and others would imply - a philosopher with an archaeological hobby. We might better see him as an unusually successful product of a distinctive Oxford version of Classics that is now no more (Greats was 'reformed' decades ago). It should come as no surprise that the last voyage he made, with that group of students, was a trip to Greece, and that he went - as he put it in The First Mate's Log - 'not so much a tourist as a pilgrim' to Delphi, where Socrates had travelled two and a half thousand years earlier. 'If a man looks to Socrates as his prophet,' he wrote, 'the journey to Delphi is the journey to his Mecca.' That is the credo of a Greats-man.
I disagree with her "His image of the mindless, unquestioning narration of 'scissors and paste' history, and of generations of historians being content to merely to stick one source after another, now seems very largely a self-serving myth".

If you consider that our MSM may be creating it's own version of our "history" you can see that "scissors and paste" is alive and well. "Mindless" is to me a perfect description of what we are seeing in our new technological paradise.
 

BHelmet

Jedi Master
goyacobol said:
findit said:
I was reading Mary Beard's "Confronting the Classics," (2013) and was surprised to see a short chapter on Collingwood titled, "Philosophy meets Archaeology." I thought I would list a few of her comments.


The Idea of History[/i

Re-reading The Idea of History after some thirty years or so, I found myself less impressed than I had been as a student, or at least more counter-suggestible. His image of the mindless, unquestioning narration of 'scissors and paste' history, and of generations of historians being content to merely to stick one source after another, now seems very largely a self-serving myth.

If you consider that our MSM may be creating it's own version of our "history" you can see that "scissors and paste" is alive and well. "Mindless" is to me a perfect description of what we are seeing in our new technological paradise.

The intent and action to create mindlessness is, in itself, not actually mindless. And the MSM are not real historians, but I don't really see Collingwood being self-serving either, although I really wasn't there in his mind or sub-conscious, either. Then again it is darn difficult not to be self-serving in a 3D STS world.
 
Top Bottom