Date of Award

Spring 1984

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




History was long considered a somehow second-rate discipline, incapable of producing true knowledge like math or the hard sciences. Whether viewed as the handmaiden of theology in the Middle Ages or simply denied a place among the sciences by the latter-day positivists, history's independence and value as a study in its own right have been denied from many points of view at different times. R.G. Collingwood takes issue with this attitude towards history by assert its autonomy both in subject and method in his The Idea of History. His inquiry into the nature of history is divided into two parts. The first is essentially historical, reviewing how historical studies, or the discipline of history, fared in Western thought from Herodotus to the 1930's. This first section aims at tracing the gradual emergence of a full-fledged, independent idea of history. The other part is more philosophical, taking up such questions as the value of the history, what a uniquely historical study must consist of, and how to undertake such a study. Following Collingwood's organization, I will evaluate first the historical, then the philosophical questions.

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History Commons