The Kantian heritage of R.G. Collingwood and P.F. Strawson : two varieties of descriptive metaphysicsThe Kantian heritage of R.G. Collingwood and P.F. Strawson : two varieties of descriptive metaphysics
Faculty of Arts. Philosophy
Center for European Philosophy
2014Bowling Green, 2014
History of philosophy quarterly. - Bowling Green
31(2014):3, p. 271-292
University of Antwerp
Given that R. G. Collingwood and P. F. Strawson introduced a Kantian inspired "reform of metaphysics" in a strikingly similar terminology, the absence of a comparative article on their concepts of a "descriptive metaphysics" is rather surprising. In a recent article, Giuseppina D'Oro filled this gap. Her thoughtprovoking article "The Myth of Collingwood's Historicism" is not only the first endeavor to locate Collingwood's concept of metaphysics against the background of Strawson's distinction between descriptive and revisionary metaphysics, but it is also a defense against the often-heard claim that their "descriptive" metaphysics "saved the letter of traditional metaphysics, but abandoned its spirit." This paper, partly set up as a critical dialogue with D'Oro, consists of four parts. First, it elaborates on D'Oro's comparison between Collingwood and Strawson by focusing not only on Strawson's distinction between descriptive and revisionary metaphysics in Individuals but by concentrating on his use of three different concepts of metaphysics in The Bounds of Sense. Second, it locates the differences between Collingwood's and Strawson's concepts of metaphysics on the basis of their respective approaches toward Kant's transcendental idealism. Subsequently, it defends a historical and (relaxed) ontological reading of Collingwood's metaphysics of objective idealism. Finally, Collingwood's metaphysics is located in the light of the union between Strawson's descriptive metaphysics and his soft naturalism.