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By Robin George Collingwood

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The pupils, whether or not they expected a philosophy that should give them, as that of Green's school had given their fathers, ideals to live for and principles to live by, did not get it; and were told that no philosopher (except of course a bogus philosopher) would even try to give it. The inference which any pupil could draw for himself was that for guidance in the problems of life, since one must not seek it from thinkers or from thinking, from ideals or from principles, one must look to people who were not thinkers (but fools), to processes that were not thinking (but passion), to aims that were not ideals (but caprices), and to rules that were not principles (but rules of expediency).

When my pupils came to me armed with grotesquely irrelevant refutations of (say) Kant's ethical theory, and told me they came out of So-and-so's lectures, it was all one to me whether the irrelevance came from their misrepresenting So-and-so, or from So-and-so's misrepresenting Kant : my move was to reach for a book with the words, 'Let us see whether that is what Kant really said'. In lecturing, I adopted a similar procedure. I had become something of a specialist in Aristotle, and the first lectures I gave were on the De Anima.

And a proposition which in fact is significant can always be thought meaningless by any one who convinces himself that it was intended as an answer to a question QUESTION AND ANSWER 39 which, if it had really been intended to answer it, it would not have answered at all, either rightly or wrongly. Whether a given proposition is true or false, significant or meaningless, depends on what question it was meant to answer; and any one who wishes to know whether a given proposition is true or false, significant or meaningless, must find out what question it was meant to answer.

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