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Collingwood and the Sea Anemone

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Abstract:

R.G. Collingwood's An Essay on Metaphysics is a full-fledged response toA.J.Ayer's Language, Truth and Logic. Ayer's book forced Collingwood to revisit his critique of realism, to respond to the 'scientific dogmatism' of logical positivism, and to modify his own idealist metaphysical views in new and unprecedented ways. This article argues that Collingwood's critique of Ayer provides the impetus for the later metaphysical theory of An Essay on Metaphysics. Part I delineates Collingwood's critique of realism as a 'sea anemone view of knowledge.' Part II argues that Ayer's logical positivism is a form of realism. Part III contends that Collingwood's response to Ayer -- a historical metaphysics based on absolute presuppositions and the logic of question and answer -- presupposes a novel, modified coherence theory of truth. Collingwood's later metaphysics signify merely a shift in how he responds to different forms of realism, however, rather than a significant turn in his thought.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Heartland College, Illinois 61761, U.S.A., Email: tim.lord@heartland.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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