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Title: Human understanding in the philosophy of R.G. Collingwood
Author: Karabelas, John
ISNI:       0000 0004 2748 4404
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2009
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The thesis explores the role of human understanding in R.G. Collingwood's philosophy. I examine four major areas: the role of psychology, the unity of mind (i.e. unity of thoughts and emotions), the role of art and the case of fairy tales as a source of historical knowledge. These themes taken together expound a coherent way to see human understanding: with psychology Collingwood suggests the form that human understanding cannot assume the unity of mind is Collingwood's idea of how we experience an activity, that is, as an undivided whole of emotions and thoughts (and in some respects sensations or feelings too), that exist in every activity as elements that cannot be distinguished or separated. When we come to the forms that an activity can take I argue, using art and fairy tales, that human understanding in Collingwood's system should be seen as a shift from the knowledge of the united spirit (as propounded in Speculum Mentis) to the knowledge of the historical consciousness. The knowledge of the united spirit is achieved through a dialectic scale of the different forms of experience, which individually, in isolation from one another, are not epistemologically valid. In the historical consciousness the forms of experience are epistemologically autonomous and are found within history, all being manifestations of the historical mind.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available