The Logical Priority of the Question: R. G. Collingwood, Philosophical Hermeneutics and Enquiry-Based Learning


  • David Aldridge

Correspondence: David Aldridge, School of Education, Oxford Brookes University, Harcourt Hill Campus, Oxford OX2 9AT, UK.



The thesis that all learning has the character of enquiry is advanced and its implications are explored. R. G. Collingwood's account of ‘the logical priority of the question’ is explained and Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutical justification and development, particularly the rejection of the re-enactment thesis, is discussed. Educators are encouraged to consider the following implications of the character of the question implied in all learning: (i) that it is a question that is constituted in the event rather than prepared or given in advance, and that this leads to a necessary tension between learning and the curriculum or scheme, (ii) that it is a question that concerns some subject matter or issue that is at stake for both the student and the object of study, which draws our attention to the ‘intentionality’ of learning, and (iii) that it is a question that operates on the level of being—students are ‘called into question’, and thus transformed, by the object of study.