Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University


PhD student in the History of Ideas and Sciences since September 2016. My primary research interests include pragmatism, Anglo-American idealism and liberalism, historical theory and the history of historical thought. My dissertation, Two Quests for Unity, is a study of John Dewey's and R. G. Collingwood's thought.

My master’s thesis at Stockholm University used a theoretical approach inspired by the pragmatist philosopher Richard Rorty to study debates on historical theory and epistemology among Swedish historians between 1965 and 2015. I have previously studied various cultural sciences and have written bachelor's dissertations in philosophy and comparative literature covering issues on identity, trauma, memory, and the relationship between historiography and fiction.


About the research

My thesis studies the afterlife of idealism and the progressive new liberalism associated with it in the thought of the American philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952) and the English historian and philosopher Robin George Collingwood (1889-1943). I argue that the aim of Dewey’s and Collingwood’s thought should be understood as quests for unity and claim that these quests were answers to Collingwood’s and Dewey’s conception of the early twentieth century crisis. In response to the political and philosophical aspects of the crisis, they argued for the need of a practical conception of socially engaged philosophy committed to the new liberal notion of the common good.

The attempt to bring about unity of experience had been a central concern for idealist philosophy. Dewey and Collingwood inherited this idea and I claim that their quests for unity must be understood in relation to their common background in idealist philosophy. The political theory associated with British idealism and especially T. H. Green was also a central influence on Dewey’s and Collingwood’s quests. I aim to show that their political thought should be considered a continuation of Green’s attempt to put forward a version of liberalism concerned with social unity that attempted to break down the dichotomy between individual and society. Even as they (especially Dewey) grew increasingly sceptical of idealism, some of its key concepts and ideas remained important to Collingwood and Dewey through out their lives. Studying their thought in relation to idealism should therefore help us to better understand the afterlife of idealism as well as giving us a better understanding of inter-war era liberalism.

Keywords: John Dewey, Robin George Collingwood, liberalism, idealism, practical knowledge, intellectual history

Research portal (Lund University)


Bruno Hamnell

Doctoral Student
Division of History of Ideas and Sciences
Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences

Contact information

E-mail bruno.hamnellkultur.luse

Room C:356

Visiting address Helgonavägen 3, Lund

Postal address Box 192, 221 00 Lund

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