An Essay on Philosophical Method.

Collingwood, R. G.

An Essay on Philosophical Method. - 1 online resource (493 pages)

Intro -- CONTENTS -- ABBREVIATIONS -- EDITORS' INTRODUCTION -- SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY -- AN ESSAY ON PHILOSOPHICAL METHOD -- I. INTRODUCTION -- 1. THE PROBLEM -- 1. Philosophy must raise the question what philosophy is -- 2. Three suggested ways of approaching this question -- 3. The way to be followed here: an account of philosophical method -- 4. Importance of this subject at the present time -- 2. THE METHOD -- 5. Necessity of restricting the subject under discussion -- 6. Significance of the comparison between philosophical and scientific thought -- 3. HISTORICAL ILLUSTRATIONS -- 7. Socrates -- 8 . Plato -- 9. Descartes -- 10. Kant -- II. THE OVERLAP OF CLASSES -- 1. THE THEORY OF CLASSIFICATION IN FORMAL LOGIC -- 1. The traditional theory of classification -- 2. Its application in exact (mathematical) science -- 3. Its application in empirical science -- 2. THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF APPLYING IT RIGIDLY TO PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPTS -- 4. Specific classes here overlap one another -- 5. This fact long recognized in certain cases -- 6. The case of concepts having a philosophical and a nonphilosophical phase -- 7. The overlap of classes in logic -- 8. The overlap of classes in ethics -- 9. Significance of these facts: the reader invited to admit their genuineness for the sake of argument -- 3. CONSEQUENCES FOR PHILOSOPHICAL METHOD -- 10. Methods proper to science (exact or empirical) inapplicable in philosophy, owing to the overlap of classes -- 11. The fallacy of precarious margins -- 12. The fallacy of identified coincidents -- 13. Their common ground: the fallacy of false disjunction -- 14. The first rule of philosophical method: ∈στι μ∈ν το αναν... 'A distinction without a difference' -- 15. Corollaries of this rule. (a) The object of philosophical thought cannot be a classificatory system. 16. (b) Nor yet an aggregate, i.e. a whole of separable parts -- 17. These corollaries to be understood only as warnings against unadvisedly assuming the opposite -- III. THE SCALE OF FORMS -- 1. PRELIMINARY SKETCH OF THE IDEA -- 1. The species of a philosophical genus do not differ merely in degree -- 2. Nor merely in kind -- 3. Philosophy is interested in cases where these two are combined -- 4. The scale of forms: its place in the history of philosophy -- 5. Such scales occur both in philosophy and elsewhere -- 6. But in a philosophical scale of forms the variable is identical with the generic essence -- 2. TWO DIFFICULTIES -- 7. (i) This identification seems nonsensical -- 8. (ii) The scale, as hitherto described, accounts only for an overlap between opposites, not distincts -- 9. It would follow that philosophical specification is by opposition, non-philosophical by distinction -- 10. Consequences of this. It disintegrates a philosophical scale of forms, requiring us to jettison all intermediate terms and keep only the extremes -- 11. It requires us to jettison all distinctions between one philosophical concept and another -- 12. It disintegrates a non-philosophical scale of forms, and claims its extremes for philosophy -- 13. Finally it leads to a fatal dilemma concerning the relation between opposition and distinction -- 3. DEGREE AND KIND: OPPOSITION AND DISTINCTION -- 14. In philosophy there are differences of degree, but we cannot measure them -- 15. This is because they are fused in a peculiar way with differences of kind -- 16. Such a fusion follows from the principle of overlapping classes -- 17. There is a similar fusion of opposition and distinction -- 18. This also follows from the overlap of classes. 19. Summary: in philosophy there is a fusion (a) of differences in degree with differences in kind, (b) of relations of opposition with relations of distinction -- 4. DEGREE AND KIND IN THE SCALE OF FORMS -- 20. The fusion of degree and kind removes the first of the two difficulties ( 2. 7) -- 21. Example of beauty -- 22. Example of goodness -- 23. Example of pleasure -- 24. The fallacy of calculation and the fallacy of equivalence -- 5. OPPOSITION AND DISTINCTION IN THE SCALE OF FORMS -- 25. The scale begins not with zero, but with unity -- 26. i.e. with a minimum realization of the generic essence -- 27. Relatively to higher terms, this is a negation of that essence -- 28. The same relation subsists between any two adjacent terms in the scale -- 29. The fallacy of the false positive and the fallacy of null opposition -- 6. THE SCALE OF FORMS AND THE OVERLAP OF CLASSES -- 30. Each term surpasses the next below, not only generically but specifically -- 31. It therefore sums up the whole scale to that point -- 32. Thus it both negates and reaffirms the next below, and this explains the overlap of classes -- 33. And makes the conception of overlap more precise -- IV. DEFINITION AND DESCRIPTION -- 1. The view that philosophical concepts are definable. Its difficulties -- 2. The view that they are not. Its dangers -- 3. In exact science, definition implies (a) separation of essence (expounded in definitions) from properties (expounded in theorems) -- 4. In philosophy this is impossible -- here therefore the definition of a concept is coextensive with its entire exposition -- 5. (b) An absolute difference between knowing the essence of a concept and not knowing it -- 6. This too is impossible in philosophy, where coming to know means coming to know better. 7. The traditional rules of definition must therefore be modified in the case of philosophical definition -- 8. Description of an empirical concept. Its likeness and unlikeness to philosophical definition -- 9. The principles of philosophical definition. Illustrations from Plato and Aristotle -- 10. Illustration from Kant -- V. THE PHILOSOPHICAL JUDGEMENT: QUALITY AND QUANTITY -- 1 . Division of the subject -- I. AFFIRMATION AND DENIAL -- 2. In philosophy we cannot deny without making a corresponding affirmation -- 3. Proof of the principle of concrete negation -- 4. Fallacy of abstract negation -- 5. Fallacy of abstract affirmation -- 6. Proof of the principle of concrete affirmation -- 7. Applications of the principle -- 8. The two principles combined -- 2. THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL JUDGEMENT -- 9. There are three elements in all universal judgements -- 10. There are three types of thought according as one or other takes precedence of the rest -- 11. In philosophy each type by itself is fallacious . -- 12. In a philosophical judgement all three forms of structure coexist -- VI. PHILOSOPHY AS CATEGORICAL THINKING -- 1. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT OF THE PRINCIPLE -- 1. The judgements composing the body of mathematics are hypothetical -- 2. So are those of empirical science -- 3. But in philosophy the body of knowledge consists of judgements about a subject-matter conceived as real (i.e. categorical judgements) -- 2. THE EVIDENCE OF TRADITIONAL PHILOSOPHY -- 4. Quotations from philosophers expressing their recognition of the principle -- 5. The Ontological Proof, its origin and history -- 6. Its significance. The object of philosophical thought cannot be conceived except as existing -- 7. The principle further supported by examination (a) of logic -- 8. (b) Of moral philosophy -- 3. FINAL STATEMENT AND PROOF OF THE PRINCIPLE. 9. Conclusion from the evidence cited: the body of philosophical thought is essentially categorical, though it contains hypothetical elements -- 10. Proof of this from the principle of overlapping classes -- 11. Exclusion of further problems -- VII. TWO SCEPTICAL POSITIONS -- 1. Scepticism as to whether a philosophical proposition can be established by constructive reasoning -- I. CRITICAL PHILOSOPHY -- 2. Philosophy as the critical destruction of false views without asserting or implying true ones -- 3. This induces a superficial, because merely formal, valuation of the views criticized -- 4. It implies constructive doctrines on which its work is based, but neglects to formulate them -- 2. ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY -- 5. Philosophy as the analysis of propositions drawn from non-philosophical sources -- 6. Analysis of this philosophy into three parts, only one of which is indubitably philosophical -- 7. This, however, it neglects to work out -- 8. But is not entitled to take it for granted -- 9. Both these philosophies share the fault that they assume constructive doctrines while professing not to do so -- 10. Both are inconsistent with the first principles of philosophical method as laid down in this essay -- VIII. DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION -- 1. THE IDEA OF DEDUCTIVE DEMONSTRATION -- 1. Demonstration in exact science -- 2. It implies (a) logical principles external to the science, (b) principles belonging to the science itself -- 3. It never checks or criticizes, and cannot confirm, these principles, i.e. it is irreversible in direction -- 2. PHILOSOPHY DOES NOT CONFORM TO THAT IDEA -- 4. The distinction between two kinds of principles disappears -- 5. Is its direction irreversible? -- 6. In spite of his theory, Descartes in practice realized that it is not -- 7. So did Spinoza and Leibniz. 8. Therefore Hegel's demand that philosophy should justify its starting-point is not new.

James Connelly and Giuseppina D'Oro present a new edition of R. G. Collingwood's classic work of 1933, supplementing the original text with important related writings from Collingwood's manuscripts which appear here for the first time. The editors also contribute a substantial new introduction. The volume will be welcomed by all historians of twentieth-century philosophy.



Electronic books.

B1618.C73E86 2005