By R. G. Collingwood

One of many nice Oxford philosopher's most interesting works, Essay on Metaphysics considers the character of philosophy, and places ahead Collingwood's unique and influential theories of causation, presuppositions, and the good judgment of query and resolution. This re-creation comprises 3 attention-grabbing unpublished items that remove darkness from and magnify the Essay.

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When I speak of finding out what they are I do not mean finding out what it is to be an absolute presupposition, which is work for a logician;·I mean finding out what absolute presuppositions are in fact made. this is what I find them doing when I read their works from Aristotle onwards. I shall give a few examples in Part Ill. Let us return to my three numbered sentences. The business of an ordinary scientist relatively to these three sentences is to presuppose in his scientific work: (AP i) if he is a Newtonian, that some events have causes; (AP ii) if he is a Kantian, that all events have causes; (AP iii) if he is an Einsteinian, that no events have causes.

What I call scissors-and-paste history has the rubric 'we are told that' such and such an event happened. There is also a rubric for use in narrating legends, which in some kinds of legendary literature is here and there explicitly inserted: 'the story says that ... ', or 'now the story goes on to say that ... '. ,Where the reader is assumed to know the ropes these rubrics are left out. There may be an alternative reason for leaving them out: namely because the writer himself does not see that they are required ..

But there are absolute presuppositions. And no one can call a presupposition relative until he has asked whether it is relative or absolute. Not, that is, if he is thinking scientifically. '; and to ask that question is to contemplate the possibility of the thing's being an absolute presupposition, and to claim that you would know it for one if it was one. ' and the modus operandi is the same, whichever answer IS gIven. ,As regards its modus operandi, then, all analysis is "metaphysical analysis; and, since analysis is what gives its scientific character to science, science and ABSOLUTE PRESUPPOSITIONS 41 metaphysics are inextricably united, and stand or fall together.

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An essay on metaphysics by R. G. Collingwood


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