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Friday Reading Group

This month’s reading by historian Quinten Skinner is brought to you by Rory McLeod. It is a fascinating read which speaks to a range of issues facing academics across a number of disciplines.

On Skinner’s Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas; Rory McLeod

“I picked Skinner, especially ‘Meaning and understanding in the history of ideas’, because of this essay’s place in articulating principles associated broadly with the ‘Cambridge School’ of historical interpretation, an important, if diffuse school of ‘contextualist’ historical and philosophical thought. Briefly, Skinner here discusses two main problems he sees with historical and philosophical interpretation: the tendency to assume that we are always answering perennial questions; and, that it is possible to view texts as self-standing, beyond their particular historical and cultural context. This reading is now almost fifty years old, but it has sparked much debate on the subjects it touches. It remains important in debates over the history of ideas and materialism, and it could stimulate others to think about problems of philosophy, theory and interpretation through time and differing contexts.”

If you are interested in attending the reading group please email Grant Walton –

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