All History is the History of Emotion: Reworking Collingwood’s re-enactment thesis in response to contemporary emotions history

Lawton, Kate (2023) All History is the History of Emotion: Reworking Collingwood’s re-enactment thesis in response to contemporary emotions history. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis argues that R.G. Collingwood’s re-enactment thesis is the best philosophical description of historical thinking of the last century. His explanation of the methodology of re-enactment remains useful, but the philosophical foundation on which his methodology rests raises significant problems for his thesis in the context of present day historiography; in particular, in relation to the growing field of emotions history. This thesis therefore aims to reconcile Collingwoodian re-enactment with the history of emotions, by offering a new philosophical foundation for re-enactment. This new foundation is developed by first identifying at which points the problems for Collingwood’s re-enactment thesis arise, and subsequently drawing on other areas of his philosophical and historical work to construct a philosophical basis for re-enactment which is able to avoid these problems and successfully account for the historical study of emotions.
There are two key problems faced by Collingwoodian re-enactment in relation to emotions history: first, that Collingwood argues for thoughts as discrete objects which the historian can re-think in isolation from their context; and second, that the historian should study only thoughts, to the exclusion of other aspects of lived experience. This thesis proposes a solution to both problems. Collingwood’s logic of question and answer, as a philosophical foundation for re-enactment, allows Collingwood’s methodology to be maintained while addressing the problems raised by his philosophical commitments in The Idea of History in particular. This reinterpretation of Collingwood’s re-enactment thesis results in an understanding of historical thinking as the effort to contribute increasingly nuanced interpretations of past human lived experience to an ever-adapting collective historical understanding. This thesis argues that, rather than the history of thought alone as Collingwood claims, all history is also the history of emotions, and that all facets of lived experience must be acknowledged parts of the re-enactment process.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2024 08:14
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2024 08:14


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