Collingwood’s Conception of Personhood and Its Relation to Language Use

  • Ian Winchester


This paper expounds Collingwood’s picture of human personhood as set out in The New Leviathan. In the early part of that work he describes a person as an agent possessing reason and free will, both of which are mediated by language. The paper enquires into the relations between reason, free will and language, pointing out that on Collingwood’s account reason and free will are seen as dependent on language, and not language on the prior possession of reason. Examples are offered to show that in some elementary ways both humans and animals might possess some degree of reason prior to their possessing speech. On the other hand it is argued that for sophisticated acts of reason and choice, language is necessary.


Human Personhood Conscious Experience Human Language Human Speech Contractual Obligation 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Winchester
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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