David Corfield
Ruskin's Philosophy

An address delivered by R G Collingwood at the Ruskin Centenary Conference, Coniston, August 8th, 1919. Published 1922 by T. Wilson & son in Kendal. Reprinted in Essays in the Philosophy of Art, compilation & new introduction: Alan Donagan, Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1964.

…there are central principles which a man takes as fundamental and incontrovertible, which he assumes as true in all his thinking and acting. These principles form, as it were, the nucleus of his whole mental life: they are the centre from which all his activities radiate. You may think of them as a kind of ring of solid thought - something infinitely tough and hard and resistant - to which everything the man does is attached. (RUP, 6)

The fact seems to be that a man’s deepest convictions are precisely those which he never puts into words. Everything which he says and does is based upon his grasp of these convictions; but just because his grasp of them is so complete, so unquestioning, he never finds it necessary to express them at all. (RUP, 7)

Now it is this attempt to discover what people’s philosophy is that marks the philosopher. Much as everybody has a brain, but only the anatomist sets himself to discover what it looks like and how it works, so everybody has a philosophy, but only the philosopher makes it his business to probe into the mind and lay bare that recess in which the ultimate beliefs lie hidden. (RUP, 8)

The logical method of thinking proceeds on the assumption that every individual is an instance of some eternal and unchanging principle…(RUP, 9) Where the logical mind looks for general laws, the historical mind looks for individual facts, and it explains these facts appealing not to laws but to other facts. (RUP, 11)

In the hands of a logically minded person, history becomes a mere succession of events, fact following fact with little or no internal cohesion. To a historically minded person, on the contrary, history is a drama, the unfolding of a plot in which each situation leads necessarily to the next. (RUP, 18)

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