Oscillation and Emancipation: Collingwood on History and Human Nature

In Karim Dharamsi, Giuseppina D’Oro & Stephen Leach (eds.), Collingwood on Philosophical Methodology. Springer Verlag. pp. 177-207 (2018)
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Dharamsi considers Collingwood’s defence of the autonomy of the mental and contrasts it with the one articulated by liberal naturalists such as McDowell. Both Collingwood and McDowell, Dharamsi argues, acknowledge the irreducibly normative nature of the study of mind and both reject the widespread naturalist assumption that philosophy is continuous with natural science. The liberal naturalist’s and Collingwood’s strategy are however fundamentally different. McDowell’s strategy is to soften naturalism so as to accommodate within its womb the normative character of the mental, which a harder or more traditional form of naturalism struggles to provide a home for. Collingwood’s strategy agrees with McDowell’s diagnosis of the problem, but not with his proposed solution. For Collingwood, the solution lies not in liberalizing nature, but in rejecting a conception of metaphysics as a science of pure being and understanding it instead as a historical enquiry into the presuppositions of science, including natural science.



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Karim Dharamsi
Mount Royal University

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