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R. G. Collingwood (Robin George Collingwood) Biography

(1889–1943), (Robin George Collingwood), Religion and Philosophy, Speculum Mentis, An Essay on Philosophical Method

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British philosopher, the son of John Ruskin's secretary; he was born in Lancashire, and educated at University College, Oxford, becoming a fellow of Pembroke College in 1912. After serving in the Intelligence Department of the Admiralty during the First World War, he lectured in philosophy at Oxford, where he became Wayneflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy in 1935. His earlier writings, notably Religion and Philosophy (1916) and Speculum Mentis (1924), constituted extensions of the tradition of philosophical idealism, which he defended formidably in An Essay on Philosophical Method (1933), often regarded as his most important work. The book's integrated view of philosophy and history was sustained in his Essay on Metaphysics (1940), in which he argued that the study of history subsumed that of philosophy; this was consistent with his increasing historical relativism, which led him to maintain that the task of metaphysics was to define the ‘absolute presuppositions’ governing culture and religion at particular historical periods. His other works include The Principles of Art (1938) and The Idea of History (1946). Collingwood was also an eminent authority on the archaeology of Britain under the Roman occupation; his Roman Britain (1937) formed the third volume of An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome (edited by Tenney Frank, 5 volumes, 193340); he was co-author with J. N. L. Myres of Roman Britain and the English Settlements (1936), the first volume of The Oxford History of England (edited by G. N. Clark, 15 volumes, 193465). His An Autobiography (1939) is remarkable for its almost complete avoidance of circumstantial matter, bearing out his claim that ‘The autobiography of a man whose business is thinking should be the story of his thought.’

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