On October 2, 1938, less than a year before Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland began World War II, the British philosopher R. G. Collingwood put the finishing touches on his autobiography. Its observations underscored his belief that “the chief business of twentieth-century philosophy is to reckon with twentieth-century history.”1 Collingwood’s primary intention was to urge philosophers to pay more attention to the discipline of history—its methods, consciousness of context, and attention to detail—so that philosophy might be less abstract, more aware of its own historical heritage, and directed more fully to inquiry about problems raised by historical thinking (e.g., how is historical knowledge possible?). At least by implication, this call for an up-to-date philosophy of history meant that philosophy’s responsibilities included paying close attention to twentieth-century events as well.
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