The pincer movement of The Idea of a Social Science: Winch, Collingwood, and philosophy as a human science

AHP readers may be interested in a new open-access piece in History of the Human Sciences: “The pincer movement of The Idea of a Social Science: Winch, Collingwood, and philosophy as a human science,” by Jonas Ahlskog and Olli Lagerspetz. Abstract:

This article argues that, in order to understand Peter Winch’s view of philosophy, it is profitable to read him together with R. G. Collingwood’s philosophy of history. Collingwood was both an important source for Winch and a thinker engaged in a closely parallel philosophical pursuit. Collingwood and Winch shared the view that philosophy is an effort to understand the various ways in which human beings make reality intelligible. For both, this called for rapprochement between philosophy and the humanities. Like Collingwood, Winch wanted to reformulate philosophy as a form of human science. Both thinkers advanced a conception of logic where the validity of judgements, propositions, and thought are dependent on their function as instruments in human dialogue. In their treatments of logic, Winch and Collingwood were fleshing out their idea that questions concerning human meaningful behaviour also tie back to the question of what philosophical analysis is about. There is a deep connection between two main issues in both Collingwood’s and Winch’s writings: on the one hand, the need for ‘internal’ understanding of how human beings relate to reality, and on the other hand, their critique of the idea of logic as a self-sufficient system, external to historically embedded forms of life. At the core of their shared vision there was a comprehensive critique of metaphysical realism.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.