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Collingwood's Absolute Presuppositions and their Non-propositionality

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Collingwood's notion of absolute presuppositions is the cornerstone of his metaphysics. It is indisputably one of his most original philosophical ideas. It has, however, an unhappy history. Ever since the publication of his Essay on Metaphysics in 1939, it has been regrettably misunderstood and misinterpreted in different ways by contemporary philosophers and thinkers. Even some of the most perceptive Collingwoodian scholars have failed fully to fathom the philosophical depth of his discourse on absolute presuppositions. One such thoughtful scholar is Michael Beaney who, in an article published in Collingwood and British Idealism Studies in 2005, argued in the main that the content of an absolute presupposition--based on his premise that the content of an act of presupposing can be the same as the content of an act of propounding--is itself a proposition. If there is one essential thing that Collingwood constantly contended concerning his conception of absolute presuppositions, it is the fact that they are not--by nature, substance, and necessity--propositions. In this paper, I will show that Beaney's main thesis is a misreading of Collingwood's idea of an absolute presupposi-tion. I will also argue that absolute pre-suppositions are primarily pre-reflective, pre-interpretive, and pre-cognitive. They precede our intellective awakening and application. Thus, they can never be propositions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Paroquia de Cristo Rei, Rua Ilha de Madeira, Terra, Nova--C.P. 1326, Luanda, Angola--AFRICA, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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