David Corfield
An Essay on Metaphysics

Collingwood argues that metaphysics is the historical study of the constellation of absolute presuppositions presupposed by the sciences (systems of organised thought, including, e.g., history) of the day. His three case studies concern how theological statements express the presuppositions of Western science, Kant’s Critique as an account of post-Newtonian presuppositions, and the presuppositions involved in causality. Anyone who denies the need to make such presuppositions is a dangerous irrationalist.

Positivistic logic, because it does not recognise the existence of the questioning activity, cannot recognize the principle of possibility. To a ‘logical positivist’ it is simply an outrage to say ‘there may be things that have never been perceived’. It is ‘metaphysics’, for it is not either a statement of observed fact nor analysable into such statements. It is unmeaning, because it cannot be verified. As soon as anything has been perceived for the first time, it is no longer unperceived, so the discovery that anything either exists or can exist unperceived. (p. 279)

Professor A. N. Whitehead, than whom I suppose there is nobody now alive more trustworthy as a liaison officer between the physicists and the philosophers. (p. 266)

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