Volume 10, 2018
Jude Raymund Festin
Thinking in Overlap
Collingwood and Wittgenstein on Words, Concepts, and Propositions
It is theoretically risky to juxtapose Collingwood with Wittgenstein. The former is a metaphysician who has deep sense of history, while the latter is a logician who is celebrated for his unorthodox way of doing philosophy. Collingwood sees things in their interconnected whole, while Wittgenstein grasps them in minute detail. The former approaches a philosophical problem always from a historical standpoint in an orderly and holistic fashion, ever mindful of how things hang together. The latter examines a philosophical question in a diagnostic manner. Given their different intellectual backgrounds and tempers of mind, it may seem that Collingwood and Wittgenstein have little in common, if any at all. There are, however, significant similarities in their philosophical ideas, as have been noted by a good number of Collingwoodian scholars. Wittgentein’s notion of certitudes in “On Certainty”, for instance, bear striking resemblance to Collingwood’s idea of absolute presuppositions in “Essay on Metaphysics”. Their views on the phenomenon of magic intersect at some interesting points. And their respective insights on the nature of language also show salient affinities. How does one account and explain such convergences from two philosophers from contrasting backgrounds, with different tempers of mind? This paper intends to show that Collingwood’s conception of philosophical overlap and Wittgenstein’s notion of family-resemblances converge at some interesting points. This suggests that, despite the stark differences in personalities and philosophical interests, Collingwood and Wittgenstein are philosophers cast in the same mold of thought.