Quentin Skinner’s Attempt to Clarify Collingwood

David Černín

DOI: https://doi.org/10.46938/tv.2023.572


This paper examines the methodological propositions of Quentin Skinner, whose influence on intellectual history, including the history and philosophy of science (HPS), cannot be disregarded. It is well known that Skinner’s method is based on John L. Austin’s theory of speech acts. Nonetheless, the very idea of applying ordinary language philosophy to the subject matter of history rests on other assumptions that form Skinner’s philosophy of historiography. The paper focuses on reconstructing this philosophy of historiography and especially on R. G. Collingwood as a primary source of inspiration. This famous British philosopher, historian, and archaeologist authored many inspirational texts concerning the historical craft. The complex and sometimes contradictory structure of his posthumously published texts requires careful interpretation, and many philosophers see Collingwood as an obscure thinker. The paper argues that even though Skinner openly denounces Collingwood’s central concept of re-enactment, his philosophy of historiography is deeply influenced by a specific understanding of Collingwood’s legacy.


philosophy of history; methodology; intellectual history; Collingwood; Skinner

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