An autobiography by Robin George Collingwood

By Robin George Collingwood

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It has always maintained that the words actually used by a man on a given occasion in order to express his thought may be 'elliptical' or 'pleonastic' or in some other way not quite in accordance with the rule that one sentence should express one proposition. It is generally held, again, that indicative sentences in a work of fiction, professing to be that and nothing more, do not express propositions. But when these and other qualifications have been made, this can be described as the central doctrine of propositional logic: that there is, or ought to be, or in a well-constructed and well-used language would be,I a one-one correspondence between pro- - Hence that numerous and frightful offspring of propositional logic out of illiteracy, the various attempts at a 'logical language', beginning with the pedantry of the text-books about 'reducing 36 Q U E S T I O N A N D ANSWER positions and indicative sentences, every indicative sentence expressing a proposition, and a proposition being defined as the unit of thought, or that which is true or false.

It is none the worse for that. Whitehead's cosmology is constructed on an anti-'realistic' principle; Alexander's is built up of non-'realistic' materials. Neither can be used as evidence that modern English 'realism' is fertile in cosmological ideas ; it would be more plausible to use them as evidence that English philosophy, at any rate in the persons of two very fine philosophers, is beginning to recover from the blight of 'realism' and re-establishing contact with the tradition which 'realism' meant to break.

Not only were the times unpropitious, but&* I was still a beginner in the art of writing books. I had only published one. It was called Religion and Philosophy, and was published in 1916. I t had been written some years earlier, in order to tidy up and put behind me anumber of thoughts arising out of my juvenile studies in theology; and I published it because, at a time when a young man's expectation of life was a rapidly dwindling asset, I wished at any rate to leave one philosophical publication behind me, and hated (as I still hate) leaving a decision of that kind to executors.

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