Period and Place: : Collingwood and Wittgenstein on Understanding Others
What it takes to understand radically different others lies at the heart of the philosophies developed by Collingwood and Wittgenstein at roughly the same time. Their approaches contain three differences of focus that are prima facie significant: (i) period vs. place; (ii) individual vs. collective; (iii) re-enactment vs. forms of life. In this essay I demonstrate that these are little more than a divergence in emphasis and thatwemust view their approaches as complimentary, rather than opposed. This this is not a simple case of reaching the same conclusions through different, let alone incompatible, routes. Far from it. The two philosophers use similar methods and reason in similar ways when considering the relation of thought to action, and of both thought and action to explanation and understanding. This is particularly remarkable given that the two thinkers are often thought to stand at opposite ends of the methodological spectrum with respect to the value of metaphysics.