The Myth of Collingwood's Historicism

Giuseppina D'Oro
Keele University
This paper seeks to clarify the precise sense in which Collingwood's “metaphysics without ontology” is a descriptive metaphysics. It locates Collingwood's metaphysics against the background of Strawson's distinction between descriptive and revisionary metaphysics and then defends it against the claim that Collingwood reduced metaphysics to a form of cultural anthropology. Collingwood's metaphysics is descriptive not because it is some sort of historicised psychology that describes temporally parochial and historically shifting assumptions, but because it is a high level form of conceptual analysis premised on the claim that ontological questions are actually internal ones and that metaphysics, understood as an attempt to answer external questions, is not a possible philosophical enterprise. This non-historicist reading of what it means to take the ontology out of metaphysics has broader implications which go beyond a scholarly debate in so far as it shows that it is possible to maintain objectivity in the absence of strong ontological underpinnings
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DOI 10.1080/0020174X.2010.526326
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References found in this work BETA

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Willard V. O. Quine - 1951 - Philosophical Review 60 (1):20–43.
Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Revue International de Philosophie 4.
Transcendental Constraints and Transcendental Features.Mark Sacks - 1997 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 5 (2):164 – 186.

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Citations of this work BETA

Reasons and Causes: The Philosophical Battle and The Meta-Philosophical War.Giuseppina D'Oro - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (2):207 - 221.
Unlikely Bedfellows? Collingwood, Carnap and the Internal/External Distinction.Giuseppina D'Oro - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (4):802-817.

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Similar books and articles

Historicism and Philosophy: Reflections on R. G. Collingwood.N. Rotenstreich - 1957 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 11 (4):401-419.
An Essay on Philosophical Method.R. G. Collingwood - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Collingwood and Ryle on the Concept of Mind.Giuseppina D'oro - 2003 - Philosophical Explorations 6 (1):18 – 30.
The Later Collingwood's Alleged Historicism and Relativism.Tariq Modood - 1989 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 27 (1):101-125.
An Orthodox Historicism?Jack A. Bonsor - 1990 - Philosophy and Theology 4 (4):335-350.
What is Historicism?Andrew Reynolds - 1999 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (3):275 – 287.
Collingwood, Psychologism and Internalism.Giuseppina D'Oro - 2004 - European Journal of Philosophy 12 (2):163–177.


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