Speculative Knowledge

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Speculative Knowledge


a type of theoretical knowledge deduced by means of reflection, without recourse to experience, that seeks to explore the limits of science and culture.

Speculative knowledge is a historically determined means of establishing and developing systems of philosophy. The belief that philosophy was essentially speculative in nature affirmed the sovereignty of philosophical knowledge and the irreducibility of philosophical knowledge to specialized scientific knowledge. The view of philosophy as speculative knowledge originated in ancient times, and the most consistent system of speculative knowledge was developed by G. Hegel, who regarded dialectics as the highest form of the theoretical speculation of truth. The culmination of the long tradition of speculative philosophy was the phenomenology of E. Husserl.

In the history of philosophy, there have been various critiques of speculative knowledge. The empiricism of F. Bacon and J. Locke and the rationalism of T. Hobbes and B. Spinoza viewed speculative philosophy as scholasticism, detached from human experience and from science. I. Kant regarded speculative knowledge as philosophizing within the sphere of pure reason, which has no source in experience, and L. Feuerbach identified speculative philosophy with theology. In contemporary bourgeois philosophy, speculative knowledge is totally rejected by positivism as devoid of meaning or is counterposed by existentialism and personalism with an ideal of existentialist and personalist knowledge.

Marxism’s critique of speculative philosophy is based on the materialist concept of alienation, a concept that reveals the true sources of speculative thinking. These are the detachment of philosophical knowledge from actual social relations and from scientific development, and the interpretation of man as an abstract subject. Marxism points out the rational element in speculative philosophy—its attempt to perceive the specific aspects of philosophical thinking—but rejects speculative abstraction. Dialectical materialism affirms the major cognitive importance of scientific abstraction, which reflects objective reality. Dialectical materialism also reveals the link between philosophy and social and historical practice.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
After salutation, observing me to look earnestly upon a frame, which took up the greatest part of both the length and breadth of the room, he said, "Perhaps I might wonder to see him employed in a project for improving speculative knowledge, by practical and mechanical operations.
Applying Thomas Aquinas's account of the intellectual virtue of art to teaching yields valuable results for both those who wish to understand teaching better and those looking for models of the approach to virtue epistemology Roberts and Wood call "regulative." To vindicate that claim, this article proceeds in four steps: First, Colton introduces Thomas's taxonomy of the intellectual virtues in light of a pair of distinctions between practical and speculative knowledge and between immanent and transient operations.
While each scenario report includes a disclaimer in its preface that states that scenarios should not be construed as knowledge in the strictest sense (much like corporations, whose "forward-looking statement" disclaimers serve to limit liability in press releases), these forecasters nevertheless expect their scenarios to be treated as if they contained what political theorist Louise Amoore calls "speculative knowledge"--a knowledge of possibilities (9).
Andreev and Pavlov (both information and communication technologies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences) describe and demonstrate a new mathematical technique to describe decision making in complex systems, which retains human speculative knowledge as decisive for the final solution.
Treating the milieu as a medium, different interventions can be made showing how that which is observed under the milieu is articulated in a way that facilitates speculative knowledge. The milieu as a medium for speculative statements is illuminated through commentary on two concepts which can be found in commentary on Foucault: cocausality and rearticulation.
The foundational text for the theory is found in Aristotle's De Anima III.4, "For in the case of things without matter, that which thinks and that which is thought are the same; for speculative knowledge is the same as its object" (DA, 430a3-6).
Given this conceptual incommensurability, the 'concept' of anxiety yields no speculative knowledge, explanation, or justification of sin.
We misunderstand the ideas of pure reason if we treat them as objects of speculative knowledge. Ideas are subjective (they are concepts in the human mind), are normative standards against which the sensible world is to be measured, and are useful for representing ends or goals that we strive to achieve.
The end of speculative knowledge is truth, but the end of practical knowledge is action.
Building on this interpretive insight, Grizez and later John Finnis (Natural Law and Natural Right, 1980), developed an understanding of nonhierarchical, incommensurable, and pre-moral "basic goods" (life, health, knowledge, play, aesthetic experience, friendship, practical reasonableness, and religion), whose goodness and ultimacy are not derived from prior speculative knowledge of nature; they are instead "self-evident" to one carefully reflecting on his reasons for action.
Aquinas saves his defense of secular learning for the last four arguments, beginning with Avicenna's commentary on Aristotle's Physics that directs the importance of the virtues toward "speculative knowledge." (36) In the last three, Aquinas's defense stresses the religious motive for studying secular learning: Jerome sought to profit from secular learning generally and Augustine from the knowledge of heathen philosophers, whereas Daniel learned mathematics seemingly to reprove it.