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Robin George Collingwood on Planning - Dictionary of Arguments

Gadamer I 376
Plan/Collingwood/Gadamer: Collingwood Thesis: In truth, one can only understand a text if one has understood the question to which it is an answer. One will only understand historical events if one reconstructs the question to which the historical action of the person was the answer in each case. Collingwood gives the example of the Battle of Trafalgar and the Nelsonian plan on which it was based. The example wants to show that the course of the battle makes Nelson's real plan understandable precisely because it was successfully carried out.
His opponent's plan, on the other hand, could no longer be reconstructed from the events for the opposite reason, because it had failed. Understanding the course of the battle and understanding the plan that Nelson executed are one and the same process.(1)
I 377
Gadamer: [One has] to reconstruct two different questions in such a case (...), which also find two different answers: The question of the meaning of a great event and the question of how it was planned. Obviously the two questions only coincide if human planning was really up to the course of events.
But this is a precondition that we as people who are in history, and in the face of a historical tradition that speaks of just such people, cannot claim as a methodological principle.
GadamerVsCollingwood: Tolstoy's famous description of the council of war before the battle, in which all strategic possibilities are calculated and all plans are discussed with astuteness and thoroughness while the commander himself sits and sleeps, but instead makes the rounds of the guards outside in the night before the battle begins, apparently better describes what we call history. Kutuzov comes closer to the actual reality and the forces that determine it than the strategists of the War Council.
One must draw the fundamental conclusion from this example that the interpreter of history is always in danger of hypostasizing the context in which he or she recognizes a meaning as that meant by people who really act and plan.(2) Cf. >Plan/Hegel.


1. Collingwood, Denken, p. 70.
2. Erich Seeberg has some relevant comments about this: Zum Problem der pneumatischen Exegese, Sellin-Festschrift 127 ff. (now in H.-G. Gadamer/G. Boehm (ed.) Die Hermeneutik und die Wissenschaften. Frankfurt 1978, p. 272—282.)


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Coll I
R. G. Collingwood
Essays In Political Philosophy Oxford 1995

Gadamer I
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik 7. durchgesehene Auflage Tübingen 1960/2010

Gadamer II
H. G. Gadamer
The Relevance of the Beautiful, London 1986
German Edition:
Die Aktualität des Schönen: Kunst als Spiel, Symbol und Fest Stuttgart 1977


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-09-18
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