Collingwood's Critique of Oxbridge Realism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


In chapters 3 to 6 of his Autobiography, R. G. Collingwood attacks the views of those he calls ‘realists’, seen as led in Oxford by John Cook Wilson and in Cambridge by G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell. Central to realism, as Collingwood characterizes it, are the doctrines that knowing is a simple ‘intuiting’ of reality and that knowing makes no difference to what is known, doctrines understood as grounded in the logic of propositions, and in particular, the assumption that the proposition is the unit of thought. Collingwood criticizes realism for ignoring history, and argues that the logic of propositions should be replaced by a logic of question and answer. In this chapter I elucidate and evaluate Collingwood’s critique.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAn Autobiography and Other Writings
Subtitle of host publicationWith essays on Collingwood's life and work
EditorsBoucher David, Teresa Smith
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)978–0–19–9658603–5
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2014


  • Collingwood, Oxford realism, Cambridge realism

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