Reason and emotion: R. G. Collingwood on magic

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Collingwood's treatment of magic relies on his defense of emotion in rational life, which, in turn, engages with his philosophy of history. He did not think of magic as irrational or superstitious; he saw it as a thoughtful, practical effort to bring ambivalent emotions under control in order to sustain human life. Magic as such was not superstitious, and superstition could not be eliminated by progress in strengthening the faculty of reason. Collingwood recognized reason's finitude in order to reject naïve confidence in historical progress, and he made magic a new point of orientation for his broader conception of the philosophy of history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-280
Number of pages18
JournalHistory of Philosophy Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Collingwood
  • Emotion
  • Magic
  • Reason
  • Superstition

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