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12 The Logocentric Predicament and the Logic of Question and Answer

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Chapter Summary

The logocentric predicament was the subject of Lewis Carroll's "What the Tortoise said to Achilles". The logocentric predicament has been revisited by Susan Haack in "The Justification of Deduction". This chapter argues that the logic of question and answer, as developed in Collingwood's An Essay on Metaphysics, escapes the logocentric predicament and that it does so by rejecting the assumption which gives rise to the predicament, namely the view that all circularity is bad and therefore to be avoided. He sought to distinguish between a form of circularity that is vicious and one which is not. The chapter illustrates this claim by considering Collingwood's logic of question and answer in the context of his conception of metaphysics as a science of absolute presuppositions. Collingwood views that the logocentric predicament is an inescapable predicament of first order scientists arises out of a positive endorsement of presuppositions as enabling conditions of knowledge.

Keywords: absolute presuppositions; Collingwood's An Essay on Metaphysics; Lewis Carroll; logocentric predicament; Susan Haack



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