Bruno HamnellDoctoral Student

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • History of Ideas


  • Robin George Collingwood, John Dewey, Idealism, Experience, Intellectual history


Unifying Experience studies the thought of the American pragmatist philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952) and the British philosopher and historian Robin George Collingwood (1889-1943). Their philosophies are interpreted as "quests to unify experience" in order to highlight Dewey and Collingwood’s relation to the idealist tradition in philosophy, which is used in different ways in their thought. This perspective is helpful for understanding what challenges and problems Dewey and Collingwood sought to solve. They were both engaged in many of the societal, cultural, and intellectual challenges of their time, including the decline of religion, the questioning of rationality and the new views on human subjectivity, the birth of modernist aesthetics, the problems of increasing individualism, the emerging trends in philosophy, and the social and political upheavals that came with the two world wars.

Collingwood and Dewey’s holistic and unifying take on experience is related to their emphasis on the practicality of knowledge, and to how they treat certain individual modes of experience, such as religious and aesthetic experience. Apart from interpreting, contextualizing and comparing their philosophies, this thesis also aim to actualize their thought by using their philosophies as a way to enter into a discussion on the relation between idealism and poststructuralism; language, experience, and reality; and between the specific challenges and questions their philosophies aimed to answer, and how these compare to contemporary challenges. Might Dewey and Collingwood’s views on practice, unity, and experience inspire any intellectual perspectives that could be valuable today?

Keywords: John Dewey, Robin George Collingwood, experience, idealism, practical knowledge, intellectual history, history of philosophy