An autobiography by Robin George Collingwood

By Robin George Collingwood

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To convince them that philosophy was a silly and trifling game, and to give them a lifelong contempt for the subject and a lifelong grudge against the men who had wasted their time by forcing it upon their attention. That this did actually happen any one could see. The school of Green had taught that philosophy was not a preserve for professional philosophers, but every one's business; and the pupils of this school had gradually formed a block of opinion in the country whose members, though not professional philosophers, were interested in the subject, regarded it as important, and did not feel themselves debarred by their amateur status from expressing their own opinions about it.

In passing, I will note (what I shall return to later on) that this principle of correlativity between question and answer disposes of a good deal of clap-trap. People will speak of a savage as 'confronted by the eternal problem of obtaining food'. But what really QUESTION AND ANSWER 33 confronts him is the problem, quite transitory like all things human, of spearing this fish, or digging up this root, or finding blackberries in this wood. My next step was to apply this principle to the idea of contradiction.

This doctrine was often expressed by calling the proposition the 'unit of thought', meaning that if you divide it up into parts such as subject, copula, predicate, any of these parts taken singly is not a complete thought, that is, not capable of being true or false. It seemed to me that this doctrine was a mistake due to the early partnership between logic and grammar. The logician's proposition seemed to me a kind of ghostly double of the grammarian's sentence, just as in primitive speculation about the mind people imagine minds as ghostly doubles of bodies.

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An autobiography by Robin George Collingwood
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