By Robin George Collingwood

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Each question and each answer in a given complex had to be relevant or appropriate, had to 'belong' both to the whole and to the place it occupied in the whole. Each question had to 'arise7; there must be that about it whose absence we condemn when we refuse to answer a question on the ground that it 'doesn't arise7. Each answer must be 'the right' answer to the question it professes to answer. By 'right' I do not mean 'true'. The 'right7answer to a question is the answer which enables us to get ahead with the process of questioning and answering.

Each answer must be 'the right' answer to the question it professes to answer. By 'right' I do not mean 'true'. The 'right7answer to a question is the answer which enables us to get ahead with the process of questioning and answering. Cases are quite common in which the 'right7answer to a question is 'false7; for example, cases in which a thinker is following a false scent, either inadvertently or in order to construct a reductio ad absurdurn. Thus, when Socrates asks (Plato, Republic, 333 B) whether as your partner in a game of draughts you 38 Q U E S T I O N A N D ANSWER would prefer to have a just man or a man who knows how to play draughts, the answer which Polemarchus gives-'a man who knows how to play draughts7-is the right answer.

Whitehead, has inspired a school of thought which is continuing the good work of jettisoning whatever can be recognized as positive doctrine by reviving the old positivist attack on metaphysics. After what I have said about propositional logic, I need not pause to explain why I think that this school, with all its ingenuity and pertinacity, is only building card-houses out of a pack of lies. But I do not think that altogether a waste of time. The 'idealistic' logic, to which this school is related as Oxford 'realism' was related to the school of Green, was a confused mixture of truth and error.

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An autobiography by Robin George Collingwood


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