Collingwood’s reform of metaphysics as relating to the problem of a possible alternative to Kant’s Copernican revolution

Olga E. Sto­liaro­va
Insti­tute of Phi­los­o­phy, Russ­ian Acad­e­my of Sci­ences
Russ­ian Pres­i­den­tial Acad­e­my of Nation­al Econ­o­my and Pub­lic Admin­is­tra­tion

Collingwood’s reform of meta­physics as relat­ing to the prob­lem of a pos­si­ble alter­na­tive to Kant’s Coper­ni­can rev­o­lu­tion

Abstract. The arti­cle deals with R.G. Collingwood’s “reform
of meta­physics” in the con­text of the his­tor­i­cal devel­op­ment of post-Kant­ian crit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy and sci­ence. The ques­tion raised by the author is what do such phe­nom­e­na as a “return to pre- Kant­ian modes of thought” (A.N. White­head) or “onto­log­i­cal turn” in con­tem­po­rary phi­los­o­phy mean, pro­vid­ed that the his­tor­i­cal devel­op­ment of thought is irre­versible? It is shown that Kant’s Coper­ni­can rev­o­lu­tion con­sist­ed in clos­ing the ques­tion of exter­nal sources of knowl­edge. Colling­wood con­tin­ues the line of Kant’s crit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy, propos­ing a project of “meta­physics with­out ontol­ogy”, which must deal with the struc­ture of our knowl­edge of the world, but not with the world as it is in itself. How­ev­er, Colling­wood is in a dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, far removed from Kant. Apply­ing the Kant­ian-inspired method of regres­sive (or genet­ic) epis­te­mo­log­i­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of expe­ri­ence, Colling­wood sets out to uncov­er “absolute pre­sup­po­si­tions”, i.e. back­ground meta­phys­i­cal assump­tions about the world that make a his­tor­i­cal­ly new expe­ri­ence pos­si­ble. The his­tor­i­cal bank­rupt­cy of Kant’s fun­da­men­tal idea that there is only one uni­ver­sal way of orga­niz­ing our expe­ri­ence, belong­ing to time­less tran­scen­den­tal sub­jec­tiv­i­ty, brings the prob­lem of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of knowl­edge claims to the onto­log­i­cal lev­el. The non-remov­abil­i­ty of ontol­ogy could be under­stood as a real alter­na­tive
to Kant’s Coper­ni­can rev­o­lu­tion. This is dis­cussed through the read­ing of Colling­wood, whose project of “meta­physics with­out ontol­ogy” reveals depen­dence on cer­tain onto­log­i­cal premis­es which show the oppo­site – “ontol­ogy with­out meta­physics”.

Key­words: ontol­ogy, epis­te­mol­o­gy, meta­physics, Kant’s Coper­ni­can rev­o­lu­tion, R.G. Colling­wood, his­to­ry of thought, con­di­tions of pos­si­bil­i­ty of knowl­edge, a pri­ori and a pos­te­ri­ori knowl­edge

DOI: 10.5840/dspl20192227


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