Collingwood's examples of Absolute Presuppositions

We do not acquire absolute presuppositions by arguing; on the contrary, unless we have them already arguing is impossible to us. Nor can we change them by arguing; unless they remained constant all our arguments would fall to pieces. We cannot confirm ourselves in them by ‘proving’ them; it is proof that depends on them, not they on proof (An Essay on Metaphysics 1998: 173).

What is the difference between presuppositions and assumptions? C. Ribeiro states:
Collingwood (1940) made a distinction between presuppositions and assumptions. Presuppositions are non-justified implicit implications. They differ from assumptions because the latter are stated openly, are explicit, not implicit. We assume by an act of free will: ‘To assume is to suppose by an act of free will. A person who ‘makes an assumption’ is making a supposition about which he is aware that he might if he chose make not that but another. (…)’ (Collingwood 1940: 27) Presuppositions, however, work in the darkness. But they establish logical connections with the statements formulated in our explicit thought. 
Some examples of AP:
  • all events have a cause
  • the principle of the continuity of nature in time and space, 
  • the existence of God
  • the principle that mathematics is applicable to the natural world and hence that natural science is essentially an applied mathematics
  • all events happen according to law (EM, 150).
  • nature is uniform (Mill's EM, 152)


Ribeiro, C. (2015)

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