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Book Title: An Essay on Metaphysics|
The author of the book: R.G. Collingwood
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 827 KB
Edition: OUP Oxford
Date of issue: May 24th 2001
ISBN 13: 9780199241415
Read full description of the books An Essay on Metaphysics:Collingwood's book on the nature of metaphysics is one of the best books I've read on the subject. The book's status as a rather neglected and obscure work makes little sense to me for reasons that will become obvious towards the end of this review. Let me first explain the main argument here. Collingwood's central aim is an articulation of a very radical thesis about the nature of metaphysics, suggesting that metaphysics is simply the study of the absolute presuppositions of inquiry. As such, metaphysics is not a normative discipline, but rather a descriptive, historical study of the absolute presuppositions of a given science. A metaphysician cannot evaluate or provide the presuppositions of inquiry; her work is simply to state such presuppositions in the outmost detail.
There are two issues of major importance in Collingwood's discussion: first, an attack on metaphysics is really an attack on science itself, since the latter is always based on particular theoretical, non-empirical assumptions. Hence, a positivistic, ahistorical treatment of science is completely misguided because the positivist conception of a metaphysics-free science is a fantasy. Secondly, the fact that absolute presuppositions lack truth-values entails that the foundations of any given science resist rational justification. Notice that Collingwood published his book in 1940, more than 20 years before Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. While Kuhn's and Collingwood's books cover similar themes in a surprisingly similar manner, it was only the former that gained widespread recognition and is today hailed as one of the most important books of the 20th century. This turn of events need not be understood as a cosmic injustice, but it should be evident that Collingwood's Essay on Metaphysics doesn't deserve its obscure status since it's a work of enormous insight and sophistication.
Read information about the authorRobin George Collingwood was an English philosopher and historian. Collingwood was a fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, for some 15 years until becoming the Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Magdalen College, Oxford.
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