Collingwood: The Idea of History

[H]istory is ‘for’ human self-knowledge. It is generally thought to be of importance to man that he should know himself; where knowing himself means knowing not his merely personal peculiarities, the things that distinguish him from other men, but his nature as man. Knowing yourself means knowing, first, what it is to be a man; second, knowing what it is to be the kind of man you are; and thirdly, knowing what it is to be the man you are and nobody else. Knowing yourself means knowing what you can do; and since nobody knows what he can do until he tries, the only clue to what man can do is what man has done. The value of history, then, it that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is. (R. G. Collingwood, Idea of History, pg. 10)