Collingwood’s Critique of Oxbridge Realism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


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 publicationR. G. Collingwood
Subtitle of host publicationAn Autobiography and other writings
EditorsDavid Boucher, Teresa Smith
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford Univerity Press; Oxford
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780198801207
ISBN (Print)9780199586035
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2013


  • R. G. Collingwood
  • John Cook Wilson
  • H. A. Prichard
  • Bertrand Russell
  • G. E. Moore
  • Oxford realism
  • Collingwood's Autobiography


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