To P.I. Painter (26 September 1946)

From Karl Polanyi
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Dear Pip,

I have been reading and rereading your letters. These are perhaps the first utterances since I have been in this country, which have advanced my thinking in a creative way, as far I am concerned.

(1) What emerges most clearly is your own thinking - its method, trend, unity and purport. There are the outline of a complete philosophy. Stated more fully, they amount to a systematic philosophy of the mind, of a new and original kind.

(2) You assume, I know, that it is not original. In effect you ascribe it to Collingwood. I wonder. He is not a Christian, you, in my view are.

(3) Lastly, you regard your own work as being somehow in the line of succession - an application to history, maybe. And demand its enlargment to the neighbouring fields of human and social interest.

Of these, the first group, it appears to me, is in the most advanced and the most satisfactory stage.

The second – the connection with and the derivation from Collingwood - it less clear.

The third group of questions interests me (I cannot help it) most. Yet this is el[l]iptic and leaves me full of burning questions.

Nothing would help me more at this juncture, than a brief statement what in your opinion my book contains. A personal precis of Origins of our Time. Whether you care to emphasise what in your opinion connects it with Collingwood, or whether you don't, I leave to you. Maybe is only a sentence or two that needs saying. This will immensely advance our work when we meet. It is absolutely vital that we should.

Primarily I see the need for an emphatic assertion of the importance of your thought. The manner in which you link Greek and Hebrew, the manner in which you combine Collingwood and Bergson, and so on.

Secondly, I am very keen on seeing the position of the Origin more clearly relates to the rest of my own thought.

Letter Informations

KPA: 48/01, 136