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Ideas in Time

John Potts

Chapter 8. Continuity and Change

Gadamer, Collingwood, Bakhtin

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1Up to this point, the major portion of this project has been concerned with discontinuity in intellectual history. It is now time to turn to theories of continuity and gradual change. The models of continuity and change appraised in this chapter derive from a diversity of sources and disciplines, including philosophy, philosophy of science, anthropology, literary criticism, theories of technology, and various specialisations in history, such as art history. I am interested in how they conceptualise – within their various disciplines – change as a long, gradual process; and, indeed, whether they allow for any unchanging, trans-historical elements.

2By considering a range of theoretical models, I hope to clarify distinctions sometimes obscured within the rubric ‘continuity and change’: the two terms, after all, mean quite different things. There are several degrees of difference within non-discontinuous theories of history: chronological frameworks, as Robert Bekhofer remarks, may privilege ‘small shifts, continuity as growth, or transformation’ (Berkhofer 1995: 272). While disentangling some of these strands of history, I investigate in this chapter the relevance of these models of continuity and change for intellectual history, and for the tracing of individual ideas through time.

3Some of the theories considered here provide alternative viewpoints on subjects – including the history of science – already discussed. Some of the theorists under consideration have explicitly responded to the discontinuist perspective on intellectual and cultural history developed in the 1960s. Part of the motivation for this chapter, then, is an investigation of theoretical developments that have emerged since the 1970s, and which may be deemed an attempt to counter the emphasis on temporal discontinuity in intellectual and cultural history. My primary aim in this chapter, however, is to assess the various theoretical elaborations of the persistence or gradual modification of thought; my intention is to determine their significance for a refigured history of ideas.

4While the twentieth century in the West was the age of Modernism and its ‘shock of the new’, it nevertheless produced thinkers attuned to the persistence of the past in the present. This notion was conceptualised in numerous ways: as an enframing tradition (Gadamer); as the survival of the past in historical thought (Collingwood); as the coexistence of past and present (Bergson). These three influential philosophers all emphasise continuity with the past. Instead of a conception of history defined by radical breaks and discontinuities, they propose – as Martin Jay has observed of Gadamer – ‘the possibility of fusing past and present’ (Jay 1982: 96).

5In this chapter I deal with Gadamer and Collingwood; I mention Bergson only as his thought impinges on Collingwood’s notion of historical thinking. Although Bergson’s philosophy is not concerned specifically with intellectual history, its influence can be felt in much twentieth century musing on the endurance of the past in the present, in fields as diverse as philosophy (Collingwood), literature (Proust) and performance art. Bergson’s idea of ‘pure duration’ as an ‘intensive magnitude’ perceived by consciousness had a significant impact in particular on Modernist authors including Proust and Faulkner (Potts 2015: 33-37); its influence endures in contemporary performance works by Marina Abramovic and Mike Parr, works of extremely long duration which alter the audience’s experience of time (155-157). I briefly consider the representation of time or duration in contemporary art in the next chapter.

The Past in the Present: Gadamer and Tradition

  • 1 The reference is to Said’s Beginnings: Intention and Method (Baltimore 1975) p. 324.

6Edward Said has remarked that many structuralists and post-structuralists emphasise the ‘characteristic violent gesture of découpage or rupture’ (cited by Jay 1982: 96);1 by stark contrast, Gadamer argues not for ruptures or breaks but for an enfolding continuous process, by which the past lives in and informs the present. As one would expect, the metaphors used to convey this sense of continuity diverge from the vocabulary employed by the 1960s discontinuists discussed in Chapter Six. Frank Lentricchia notes that Gadamer uses metaphors of ‘a hugely inclusive totality, of a never-ending river’, in order to suggest ‘the reciprocal involvement of past and present.’ (Lentricchia 1980: 150)

7Gadamer delineated his theory of ‘historical thinking’ in Truth and Method, published in 1960. Acknowledging his debt to Heidegger, who forged the notion of the ‘fore-structure of understanding’, Gadamer goes much further than his mentor in developing a hermeneutics that ‘can do justice to the historicality of understanding.’ (Gadamer 1984: 235) Central to this aspect of Gadamer’s philosophy is his notion of tradition. Gadamer credits the thought of the Romantic period for its ‘correction of the enlightenment’, in positing a tradition that ‘has power over our attitudes and behaviour’ (249). Tradition has an authority that is not justified by ‘the arguments of reason’, as the ‘abstract’ Enlightenment would demand; nevertheless Gadamer follows the Romantics in defending tradition as the factor that ‘in large measure determines our institutions and our attitudes’ (249). For Gadamer, tradition is not a constricting force, nor is it a dead weight or ‘inertia’. It is, he declares, ‘preservation, such as is active in all historical change.’ (250) It needs to be ‘affirmed, embraced, cultivated.’ (250)

8This affirming act of preservation transcends even revolutionary change, because in such cases ‘far more of the old is preserved in the supposed transformation of everything than anyone knows’ (250). This idea of preservation across supposed discontinuities is similar to the ‘preservation of a heritage’ in the wake of a scientific revolution argued by Canguilhem, and – to a lesser extent – Bachelard, in the philosophy of science. For Gadamer, preservation is the process that ensures the continuity of tradition. He asserts – contrary to the bias of Enlightenment and revolutionary thought – that preservation is ‘as much a freely-chosen action as revolution and renewal.’ (250) Through this act of preservation across even the most severe of disruptions, the old ‘combines with the new to create a new value.’ (250)

9Gadamer insists that tradition should be given ‘its full value’ in the hermeneutics of the human sciences. Rather than objectifying the past and separating ourselves from ‘what has been transmitted’, we should recognise that tradition ‘is always part of us’ (250). Such a perspective opens us to the continuity of thought contained within tradition. Gadamer points to the fact that ‘the great achievements in the human sciences hardly ever grow old’ (252): we continue to read and admire the classic works of philosophy, history and literature. We are linked to the past by the medium of classic texts that mirror ‘the present in the past and the past in the present’ (Gadamer 1976: 6, cited by How 1995: 51). Our ‘historical consciousness’ is always ‘filled with a variety of voices in which the echo of the past is heard.’ (Gadamer 1984: 252)

10Gadamer forestalls, as do Bachelard and Canguilhem, the teleological imperative in historical analysis. Just as Canguilhem conceptualises the history of science as a continuously developing process, with no endpoint in ‘the immutable adequacy of the present’ (Gutting 1989: 40), so Gadamer emphasises the ‘historical movement’ within which any analysis must occur. We share and have a part in ‘a living, ongoing tradition’ (How 1995: 51). Our historical research is itself ‘the transmission of tradition.’ Yet any such research is ‘based on the historical movement in which life itself stands’ and therefore ‘cannot be understood teleologically in terms of the object into which it is enquiring.’ (253) There is no ‘perfect knowledge of history’: no aspect of the past can be known in positivist terms. Equally, there can be no position in the present from which a full or objective understanding of the past is possible. This is because our very act of interpretation becomes part of the tradition, which then moves forward, having been subtly altered by its engagement with the present. Alan How comments that for Gadamer, tradition is ‘changed and sustained through the ongoing circular process of interpretation and reinterpretation.’ (How 1995: 50)

11In Gadamer’s terms, ‘effective-history’ as a form of understanding entails a conversation with the past. In this conversation, we must expose the prejudices conditioning our interpretation; Gadamer gives the name ‘horizon’ to the limitations on understanding implicit in any finite present. The hermeneutical method involves the attempt to find the ‘right horizon of enquiry’ for the ‘encounter with tradition’ (269). Gadamer’s ‘effective historical consciousness’ requires that the right questions be asked in this encounter with tradition. The perpetual process of conversation means that horizons continually alter. Thus, the horizon of the past, out of which all human life lives and which exists in the form of tradition, is always in motion. (271)

12Tradition for Gadamer ‘embraces everything contained in historical consciousness’ (271); this includes the horizon of the present, which perpetually ‘recombines’ with ‘continuing tradition’ (273).

13The eminent twentieth-century composer Igor Stravinsky spoke publicly of the power of tradition in his Harvard lectures of 1939. Stravinsky’s remarks echoed Bergson’s philosophy of duration, in which the past ‘gnaws into the future’; they also prefigured the role of tradition in Gadamer’s philosophy: Real tradition is not the relic of a past that is irretrievably gone. It is a living force that animates and informs the present. (Stravinsky 1970: 57)

14Respect for tradition may seem a surprising attitude for the Modernist composer of The Rite of Spring, whose radical approach to rhythm shocked audiences in 1913. Yet even in that revolutionary work, Stravinsky drew on the force of folk music, while his later Neo-Classical works resulted from Stravinsky’s ‘gleeful examination of the past for models of form and gesture which might be used in original music.’ (Griffiths 1978: 69-70). For Stravinsky, tradition remained a ‘living force’ in the present.

15Gadamer’s philosophy has sustained numerous criticisms; most pertinent here are those criticisms directed at his concept of tradition. Lentricchia remarks that the linking in Gadamer’s theory of the terms ‘authority’ and ‘tradition’ constitutes ‘its ultimate (and somewhat frightening) weakness.’ (Lentricchia 1980: 152) For many commentators, Gadamer’s uncritical appreciation of tradition is untenable, particularly in the context of critical theory’s focus on the power relations embedded in institutions, discourse and knowledge. As a result, Gadamer’s hermeneutics has been accused of an intrinsic political conservatism. For Paul Ricoeur, Gadamer perpetuated a ‘hermeneutics of faith, or the recovery of tradition’ whereas the more critical approach of Jurgen Habermas represented a ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ (cited in How 1995: 17).

16How’s account of the Habermas-Gadamer debate focuses on the disputed status of tradition. From Habermas’ perspective, Gadamer’s hermeneutics, ‘in its willingness to assert the ultimate validity of tradition’, does not recognise that tradition is also ‘the site for social domination.’ (How 1995: 142) Furthermore, Habermas claims that Gadamer underestimates ‘the profound impact’ of science and its related modes of thought in ‘breaking up the continuity of tradition.’ (140) Habermas’ promulgation of Enlightenment values – as the ‘incomplete project’ of Modernity – here clashes with Gadamer’s post-Enlightenment re-valuation of tradition. Whereas Gadamer finds the ongoing conversation with tradition a nurturing experience, Habermas associates tradition, in part, with the ‘repressive and superstitious’ beliefs opposed by Enlightenment self-determination (How 1995: 144). Reflection challenges tradition in that it ‘breaks dogmatic forces’ linking authority and knowledge (Habermas 1988: 170 cited in How 1995: 144).

17Gadamer responds by criticising Habermas’ dichotomy of Enlightenment reason versus tradition. For Gadamer, the over-valuation of the power of reflection easily slips into a scientistic world-view, in which reason has an independent force that proceeds to objectify and dominate the world. Gadamer resists the reason/tradition antithesis by emphasising an ambivalent relationship between tradition and authority. He argues that tradition is continually explored, so that on reflection, individuals may accept its authority, or they may not (How 1995: 171-173). Indeed, Gadamer had been explicit on this point in Truth and Method. Authority, he states, ‘has nothing to do with obedience, but rather with knowledge.’ (Gadamer 1984: 248)

18The Habermas-Gadamer debate need not concern us further. Its merit lies in its questioning of the political significance of theories elevating the role of tradition. It is more important here to ascertain the relevance of theories such as Gadamer’s for intellectual history. It can readily be accepted that Gadamer’s model of change is one of continuity through growth; yet apart from references to classic texts, his philosophy of history is general and lacking in detail. However, he makes an explicit connection with the earlier philosophy of history of R.G. Collingwood. In attempting to formulate ‘the logic of question and answer’ within the structure of conversation, he turns to Collingwood as ‘ [a] lmost the only person I find a link with’ (Gadamer 1984: 333).

Collingwood’s ‘Idea of History’

  • 2 Gadamer notes that Croce (a significant influence on Collingwood) had already understood ‘every def (...)

19Collingwood’s philosophy of history is intriguing in its ramifications for intellectual history, in that it subsumes past experience into past thought. In effect, the past becomes intellectual history. Collingwood, who regarded his life’s work as an attempted ‘rapprochement between philosophy and history’ (Collingwood 1970: 77), sought to establish the means by which historians could understand the thought of the past. Opposing the ‘realist’ notion of universality in behaviours and attitudes, he proposed that a logic of question and answer should be applied to texts of the past.2 By this he meant that ‘any one can understand any philosophy’s doctrines if he can grasp the questions which they are intended to answer.’ (1970: 55)

20To think historically about philosophies means ‘getting inside other people’s heads’, to determine whether the way they tackled problems was the right way, given the conditions of the time (58). And for Collingwood, the concepts and problems of one period will of necessity be different to those of another. Thus political philosophy is not the study of succeeding philosophers asking themselves the same sets of questions, with different answers as the result. Plato and Hobbes both theorised the ‘state’ – but their works do not represent ‘two different theories of the same thing’, since Plato’s state is the Greek polis, while Hobbes’ is ‘the absolutist state of the seventeenth century.’ (61)

21In the context of the aims of my project, Collingwood’s philosophy of history represents an ambitious synthesis of continuity and discontinuity in intellectual history. As the above remarks make clear, Collingwood recognised discontinuities in the history of thought. For him there was no unchanging essence in Western philosophy; the thought of one period was marked by its difference from other periods. Yet the distance between Plato and Hobbes was for Collingwood not an unbridgeable chasm: their ‘essentially different’ ideals of the State were nevertheless ‘related by a traceable historical process, whereby one has turned into the other’ (62). Collingwood maintained a continuist overview of intellectual history: for him ‘our philosophical tradition goes back in a continuous line to sixth century Greece’ (1946: 4). Given such a perspective, difference is assimilated into a continuous and dynamic line of thought. Hence the history of political theory is for Collingwood

not the history of different answers to one and the same question, but the history of a problem more or less constantly changing, whose solution was changing with it. (1970: 62)

22In his book The Idea of History (1946), Collingwood elaborated his concept of ‘historical thinking’. He assimilated Benedetto Croce’s entreaty that past events should ‘vibrate in the historian’s mind’ (1946: 202) into his own philosophy of history. In opposition to the empiricist dependence on documents and authorities that he derided as ‘scissors and paste’ historiography, Collingwood elaborated his theory of history as an intellectual ‘re-enactment’. The historian is urged to engage his/her own thought with the thought of the past: ‘The history of thought, and therefore all history, is the re-enactment of past thought in the historian’s own mind.’ (215)

23Collingwood’s philosophy of history calls for historical interpretation to be grounded in as thorough a knowledge of the intellectual climate of specific periods as possible. The historian’s re-thinking of past thought must be informed by a knowledge of that thought’s context. In approaching a previous thinker’s writings, ‘we must come to the reading of them prepared with an experience sufficiently like his own to make those thoughts organic to it.’ (300) The historian’s project, as advocated by Collingwood, is thus

not a passive surrender to the spell of another’s mind; it is a labour of active and therefore critical thinking. The historian not only re-enacts past thought, he re-enacts it, criticises it, forms his own judgement of its value, corrects whatever errors he can discern in it. (215)

24This critical assessment is only possible if the historian is equipped with a working knowledge of the intellectual and cultural context in which the previous thought was expressed.

25Collingwood’s notion of the historian’s conversation with the past through the logic of question and answer – incorporated later by Gadamer’s hermeneutics – was itself partly inspired by the philosophy of Bergson. Collingwood was attracted by Bergson’s conception of mental life as a succession of mental states, in which ‘one does not cease to exist when the next begins’ (Collingwood 1946: 187). Rather, succeeding states

interpenetrate one another, the past living on in the present, fused with it, and present in the sense that it confers upon it a peculiar quality derived from the fact of the fusion. (187)

26Collingwood applied this Bergsonian concept to the study of history. For him, the historical process is itself ‘a process of thought’ (226), in which the past, ‘so far as it is historically known, survives in the present.’ (225) Greek mathematics, as an example, is the foundation of our mathematics: it is ‘the living past of our own mathematical inquiries’ (225-226). Yet the process of thought is dynamic: it is a form of continuity through growth, continually assimilating the thought of the past. Hence the historical past is

a living past, kept alive by the act of historical thinking itself, the historical change from one way of thinking to another is not the death of the first, but its survival integrated in a new context involving the development and criticism of its own ideas. (226)

27In this process, previous systems of thought represent not ‘a dead past’, but a heritage available to be developed for our own ‘advancement’ (230). Accordingly, Collingwood’s interpretation of the history of science is continuist, even concerning the Einsteinian physics celebrated as a radical disjuncture by Bachelard, Kuhn and others. For Collingwood, Newton stands for a theory ‘reigning during a certain period of scientific thought’ (334). Einstein must know that theory to ‘make an advance upon it’. Newton

thus lives in Einstein in the way in which any past experience lives in the mind of the historian… but re-enacted here and now together with a development of itself that is partly constructive or positive and partly critical or negative. (334)

28For Collingwood, apparent discontinuities are absorbed into a grand intellectual continuity of growth and perpetual modification. This process occurs at the level of thought, in which the past is integrated into the present in the continuous act of ‘historical thinking’.

29Collingwood’s ‘empathetic’ conception of historiography has been criticised for its vagueness, and for its implication of ‘a kind of magical clairvoyance’ necessary for a re-living of previous thought (Burns and Rayment-Pickard 2000: 21). Gadamer was critical of Collingwood for elevating the intentions of a past author over the historical text, and for dallying with a ‘mere reconstruction’ of past thought rather than a ‘fusion of horizons’ (Gadamer 1984: 337). Yet Collingwood’s ‘idea of history’ – or rather divergent interpretations of it – has been influential in historiography and in intellectual history. Despite his criticisms, Gadamer recognised Collingwood’s logic of question and answer – ‘the nerve of all historical knowledge for Collingwood’ (Gadamer 1984: 334) – as ‘an axiom of all hermeneutics’ (334). Historical inquiry must discover the question if it is to understand the answer. This conception has also been applied productively in the domain of the history of ideas.

Bakhtin’s ‘Dialogism’

30There is an element of controversy, and not a little mystery, surrounding the writings of Mikhail Bakhtin. His prolific output in the 1920s and 1930s – when he wrote significant works of literary criticism, studies of Marx and Freud, and a major work on the philosophy of language – fell victim to the turbulence engulfing Russia in those decades. Very little of this output was published under his name; controversy remains concerning the authorship of works published during this period. As a result of this confusion, commentators often refer to ‘Bakhtin and colleagues’ or the ‘Bakhtin circle’ or ‘group’, which included the linguist V.N. Voloshinov and the literary critic P.N. Medvedev. The members of this group shared a wide range of knowledges and interests; they valued debate and diversity; they probably collaborated and used each other’s names for publication. Much of their work was suppressed by Soviet authorities; many of Bakhtin’s major works were not published until the 1960s. Translations of these works appeared in the West in the ensuing decades, where they influenced a diverse field of literary, cultural and linguistic theory. Michael Holquist has championed Bakhtin as ‘one of the leading thinkers of the twentieth century’ (Holquist 1981: xv); Michael Green likewise considers Bakhtin’s works ‘highly influential’ in the West, pointing to their contribution to theories of language and culture emphasising intertextuality and ‘heteroglossia’ (Green 1997: 43).

31Although Bakhtin is known in the West primarily as a literary theorist, as the author of influential works on Dostoevsky, Rabelais and the novel, he himself characterised his wide-ranging pursuits as a form of ‘philosophical anthropology’ (Clark and Holquist 1984: 3). His theory of the novel as a ‘dialogized system’ (Bakhtin 1981: 49) is founded on his philosophy of language, which emphasises polyphony and the ‘plenitude of differences’ within language and communication (Clark and Holquist: 1). The significance of Bakhtin’s work for my project resides in a number of factors. One is his emphasis on the ‘social qualities’ of language, thought and ideologies (Green 1997: 42). For Bakhtin, utterance takes place in a continuous process rooted in the social. Meaning is forged in this social process, which includes not only the acts of dialogue within communication, but also the ‘contextual layers’ (Clark and Holquist: 13) enfolding all forms of discourse within any cultural system.

32Bakhtin’s particular perspective on the ‘worldliness’ of language may be summarised by the word ‘heteroglossia’, which characterises the world as ‘made up of a roiling mass of languages’ (Holquist 1990: 69). This trope incorporates other important terms in Bakhtin’s corpus, such as ‘polyphony’ and ‘carnivalisation’; it emphasises the ‘immense plurality of experience’ which for Bakhtin contextualises all forms of communication (Holquist 1981: xix-xx). Bakhtin was drawn to the novel as a literary form because of its polyglot nature: novelistic discourse assimilates the great diversity of discourses circulating within a particular culture:

To a greater or lesser extent, every novel is a dialogized system made up of the images of ‘languages’, styles and consciousnesses that are concrete and inseparable from language. (Bakhtin 1981: 49)

33Dialogism in the novel ensues when a particular discourse is brought into the text, in the forms of parody, ironic or comic deployment, ‘refracted discourse’ in the voice of narrator or characters, or wholesale incorporation. This appropriated discourse, which serves to ‘express authorial intentions but in a refracted way’ (324), enters into a form of dialogue with the authorial voice: These two voices are dialogically interrelated, they – as it were – know about each other… it is as if they actually hold a conversation with each other. (Bakhtin 1981: 324)

34For Bakhtin, all communication is dialogic in nature; the principle of ‘dialogism’ animates all of his concerns. Bakhtin’s dialogic conception of language, thought and communication contains both synchronic and diachronic dimensions. On the one hand, he asserts that ‘individual languages, their roles and their actual historical meaning are fully disclosed only within the totality of an era’s heteroglossia’ (1981: 412). On the other hand, each language extends beyond its era, entering into dialogue with those discourses of another time. Bakhtin gives the name ‘re-accentuation’ to this process, in which a language is ‘creatively transformed’ in different historical periods. In the context of the novel,

great novelistic images continue to grow and develop even after the moment of their creation; they are capable of being creatively transformed in different eras, far distant from the day and hour of their original birth. (1981: 422)

35This historical principle applies to Bakhtin’s general theory of language and communication. In his commentary on Bakhtin, Tzvetan Todorov identifies the historical dimension within dialogism: all discourse is in dialogue with prior discourses on the same subject, as well as discourses yet to come, whose reactions it foresees and anticipates. (Todorov 1984: x)

36Dialogism proposes a temporal ‘open-endedness’, an ongoing historical sequence that ‘has no necessary telos built into it.’ (Holquist 1990: 75) Bakhtin’s most eloquent statement on the persistence and shaping power of past discourses was made in the last words he wrote, a fragment from 1974:

  • 3 This fragment, here translated by Clark and Holquist, was published in Moscow in 1979, after earlie (...)

The contexts of dialogue are without limit. They extend into the deepest past and the most remote future. Even meanings born in dialogues of the remotest past will never be finally grasped once and for all, for they will always be renewed in later dialogue. At any present moment of the dialogue there are great masses of forgotten meanings, but these will be recalled again at a given moment in the dialogue’s later course when it will be given new life. For nothing is absolutely dead: every meaning will someday have its homecoming festival. (quoted in Clark and Holquist 1984: 349-350)3

37Bakhtin’s ideas are among the most subtle and illuminating in all of cultural and social theory, fusing historical, cultural and linguistic horizons of explanation. His work insists that the language of the present represents accretions and transformations of previous discourses and practices, so that they exist within a single cultural sphere. Bakhtin’s idea of language differs from those articulated earlier in this book by Braudel and Wittgenstein, in that he proposes more than the simple endurance of previous thought within the system of language. Past discourses are ‘re-accentuated’ in the present; they are ‘creatively transformed’; earlier meanings are ‘recuperated’ in a new context. Bakhtin’s value to intellectual history derives from his sophisticated model of continuity and change within the history of discourse. Bakhtin allows for both continuity, as the languages and thought of the past inhere in the present, and change, as meanings are ‘creatively transformed’.

38Bakhtin’s ability to balance continuity with change within a theoretical framework is related to his central principle of dialogism. Clark and Holquist declare that Bakhtin eschews all forms of binary opposition, preferring ‘dialogic or relational thinking’ (1984: 7). Instead of the ‘dialectical either/or’, Bakhtin proposes the ‘dialogic both /and’ (7). Todorov concurs on this point, noting Bakhtin’s distaste for what he termed ‘Hegel’s monological dialectic’ (Todorov 1984: 104). The play of opposites was for Bakhtin an impoverished substitute for ‘the openness of dialogue’ (Clark and Holquist: 7); a ‘dialogics of culture’ is much more sensitive to the plurality of life and language than a ‘dialectics of nature’ (Todorov: 104). Within his dialogic model, Bakhtin found room for both the worldliness and the historicity of language. He also accommodated both continuity and change of meaning and thought. This ‘and/or’ approach is one of the most attractive aspects of Bakhtin’s method; it has influenced later work on intellectual and cultural history, as reflected in the next chapter; it has influenced my own approach in this book, which will return to a consideration of Bakhtin’s historical dialogism.


1 The reference is to Said’s Beginnings: Intention and Method (Baltimore 1975) p. 324.

2 Gadamer notes that Croce (a significant influence on Collingwood) had already understood ‘every definition as an answer to a question and hence historical’, in Croce’s Logic as Science of the Pure Concept (Gadamer 1984: 527, n. 273).

3 This fragment, here translated by Clark and Holquist, was published in Moscow in 1979, after earlier partial publication in 1975 (Todorov 1984: 123). Todorov, who complains of the inaccuracies of the translations of Bakhtin in the West (1984: xii), renders the last sentence: ‘Nothing is absolutely dead: every meaning will celebrate its rebirth.’ (110)

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