Old Problems Re-opened : R. G. Collingwood and the History of Ideas
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Author intends to publish thesis as monograph.
Each autumn, in universities from Cardiff to Sydney, young men and women in their late teens or early twenties find themselves in seminar rooms invited to discuss the writings of long-dead European males (mostly males) concerning events and situations that are no longer happening. But these young people are not history students. They are not literature students either, necessarily. They are politics undergraduates. Many of them are already political activists of some shade and some of them, when all this is over, will want to ‘go out’ into the world and make changes to it. They have come to get equipped for the dangers of real-life political action ; to get a politics degree which might make them attractive candidates for civil service positions or for an assistantship at party HQ. They are equipping for the future, they want to know about the future, and they want to be prepared for the currents in which they will soon have to swim: the networks, hierarchies and channels of influence in conjunction with which they will have to operate – present networks, today’s hierarchies and perhaps even tomorrow’s. Yet here they are, engaging not only with today’s political problems, but with yesterday’s, or with those of several centuries past; with Plato’s Republic, Hobbes’s Leviathan, and with a whole cast of authors whose works and words belong, as they soon realise, to the problems of their own time, and seem to offer very little for the solution of today’s. Even on the level of ideology, the challenges of Hobbes, of Rousseau, or of Burke to current thinking are weakened by attendant contexts that are no longer happening, by their ill-suitedness to popular revival, and by their undemocratic obsolescence…
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
PhD in Politics