Ghosh [Abstract]

Multi-dimensional change and the question of comparison
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Gautam Ghosh [1]

Abstract: This article elaborates and endorses the idea of civilization as advanced by R. G. Collingwood. Particular attention is given to two of his most neglected works, The New Leviathan and “What ‘Civilization’ Means”. The New Leviathan was written in the context of the rise of fascist-populism and World War II. Collingwood re-conceptualized the notion of civilization and situated it in the relationship between autonomy and rationality, with both conceived as processual and each intertwined with the other. He puts “civility” at the heart of civilization. Central to his argument are the distinctions he draws between civilization and barbarism, on the one hand, and between social, economic and legal dimensions of civilization, and their protean interrelationships, on the other. Collingwood ultimately advocates a notion of civilization-as-progress that is unencumbered by utopianistic determinism or ethnocentric populism. His unique argument has important implications for comparative research.

Keywords: Civilization, barbarism, progress, rationality, agency, self-determination, liberalism

[1] The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, &