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History as Re-EnactmentR. G. Collingwood's Idea of History$
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William H. Dray

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198238812

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198238812.001.0001

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The Physical and the Social

The Physical and the Social

5 The Physical and the Social
History as Re-Enactment

Dray William H.

Oxford University Press

R. G. Collingwood has also been accused, because of the way he emphasises the historian's concern with past ‘thought’, of ignoring the considerable role played by physical conditions in history, and of remaining strangely silent about how large-scale social processes are to be understood. This chapter looks at the kinds of difficulties which are often thought to be raised by Collingwood's allegedly ignoring the role played by ‘objective conditions’ in history. These objective conditions refer to the natural environment in which people lived and acted, and the social groups to which they belonged, or which were in some way relevant to their lives. This chapter examines what Collingwood says about the place of physical conditions in history as well as his view of the role of social conditions, events, and structures.

Keywords:   history, R. G. Collingwood, re-enactment, physical conditions, social conditions, objective conditions, social reductionism, social events, individualism

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