In designating his philosophical books “essays,” R. G. Collingwood, who preserved a keen sense for etymologies, meant to imply that they were not general “treatises,” and he made no claim either to comprehensiveness or to system. On the contrary, each essay was written to make a special point.
These remarks apply to the work at hand, both to its outline and to its texture. It is far from being a “metaphysical” book, in the usual sense of that word. Instead of propounding the author’s metaphysics, it is a lively statement of the importance of metaphysics, sharpened by a polemic against certain antimetaphysical tendencies, and it is enforced by three extended illustrations (which make up half of the volume).