Reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull over & evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important in learning. We learn through critical reflection by putting ourselves into the experience & exploring personal & theoretical knowledge to understand it & view it in different ways.

According to John Locke, reflection is a form of experience. In this sense, it is purely internal. The ideas that are produced by reflection are the ideas such as love, hatred, pain, pleasure etc. Sometimes it is also interpreted as introspection.

Philosophers used exposition, synthesis, description, speculation, prescription, criticism etc.,  to discuss various concepts of philosophy and from these methods of philosophy originated. One of the important methods is ‘Speculative Method.” Philosophers speculate. The inherent limitations of synthetic philosophy and descriptive philosophy points beyond themselves to speculative philosophy.

Speculative philosophy “lets our all the stops”. It stops at neither the limits of scientific investigation nor those of ordinary experience. To do speculative philosophy is to ask whether there is anything more to reality rather than that which is revealed by science and ordinary experience.

The objective of speculative philosophy is to comprehend the whole of reality by means of reason, so if reason requires that speculative philosophers go beyond the limits of science and ordinary experience in order to account for the whole of reality, then they do so.

Reason is the primary tool of speculative philosophy.  We try the following by this:

  • To determine whether there is or may be more to reality than is given in ordinary experience.
  • To comprehend the whole of reality – analyzing it into its parts and then comprehending those parts in their dynamic relations to one another, even as the student  of a combustion engine must know not only the assembled whole but also the individual parts, and not only the individual parts but how they function in relation to one another in order to constitute a running engine.

We might say that “the whole and its parts” is the motto of the speculative philosopher.  The speculative philosopher, in his or her desire to account for the whole of reality, investigates the extent to which  reason does or does not require that we postulate the existence of things, such as God, matter, other minds, souls and dimensions of reality other than revealed by sensation and introspection,.

Some of the great works in speculative philosophy are by Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, Plotinus, Augustine, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hegel, Marx, and Whitehead.  For more details study of speculative method and other things like “what philosophers do” may be studied in Thinking Philosophically by Richard E. Creel.

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