Speculative reason

Speculative reason, sometimes called theoretical reason or pure reason, is theoretical (or logical, deductive) thought, as opposed to practical (active, willing) thought. The distinction between the two goes at least as far back as the ancient Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, who distinguished between theory (theoria, or a wide, bird's eye view of a topic, or clear vision of its structure) and practice (praxis), as well as techne.

Speculative reason is contemplative, detached, and certain, whereas practical reason is engaged, involved, active, and dependent upon the specifics of the situation. Speculative reason provides the universal, necessary principles of logic, such as the principle of non-contradiction, which must apply everywhere, regardless of the specifics of the situation.

On the other hand, practical reason is the power of the mind engaged in deciding what to do. It is also referred to as moral reason, because it involves action, decision, and particulars. Though many other thinkers have erected systems based on the distinction, two important later thinkers who have done so are Aquinas (who follows Aristotle in many respects) and Immanuel Kant.


Contemplation (disambiguation)

Contemplation is a type of prayer or meditation.

Contemplation or Contemplator may also refer to:

Speculative reason

Contemplation (Kafka), a sequence of eighteen short stories by Franz Kafka

Contemplations (poem), a poem by Anne Bradstreet

Contemplate (Savoy and Grabbitz song), 2017

Contemplation EP, a Mike Garson album

Contemplations, a series of exercises in the Amitayurdhyana Sutra

Contemplator (Marvel Comics), a comic book character

Descriptive knowledge

Descriptive knowledge, also declarative knowledge, propositional knowledge, or constative knowledge, is the type of knowledge that is, by its very nature, expressed in declarative sentences or indicative propositions. This distinguishes descriptive knowledge from what is commonly known as "knowing-how", or procedural knowledge (the knowledge of how, and especially how best, to perform some task), and "knowing of", or knowledge by acquaintance (the non-propositional knowledge of something through direct awareness of it). Descriptive knowledge is also identified as "knowing-that" or knowledge of fact, embodying concepts, principles, ideas, schemas, and theories. The entire descriptive knowledge of an individual constitute his understanding of the world and more specifically how it or a part of it works.The distinction between knowing-how and knowing-that was introduced in epistemology by Gilbert Ryle. For Ryle, the former differs in its emphasis and purpose since it is primarily practical knowledge whereas the latter focuses on indicative or explanatory knowledge.

Epistemological idealism

Epistemological idealism is a subjectivist position in epistemology that holds that what one knows about an object exists only in one's mind. It is opposed to epistemological realism.

Evolutionary epistemology

Evolutionary epistemology refers to three distinct topics: (1) the biological evolution of cognitive mechanisms in animals and humans, (2) a theory that knowledge itself evolves by natural selection, and (3) the study of the historical discovery of new abstract entities such as abstract number or abstract value that necessarily precede the individual acquisition and usage of such abstractions.

Exploratory thought

Exploratory thought is an academic term used in the field of psychology to describe reasoning that neutrally considers multiple points of view and tries to anticipate all possible objections to, or flaws in, a particular position, with the goal of seeking truth. The opposite of exploratory thought is confirmatory thought, which is reasoning designed to construct justification supporting a specific point of view.

Both terms were coined by social psychologist Jennifer Lerner and psychology professor Philip Tetlock in the 2002 book Emerging Perspectives in Judgment and Decision Making. The authors argue that most people, most of the time, make decisions based on gut feelings and poor logic, and reason through issues primarily to provide justification, to themselves and to others, of what they already believe.

Lerner and Tetlock say that when people expect to need to justify their position to external parties, and they already know those parties' views, they will tend to adopt a similar position to theirs, and then engage in confirmatory thought with the goal of bolstering their own credibility rather than reaching a good conclusion. However, if the external parties are overly aggressive or critical, people will disengage from thought altogether, and simply assert their personal opinions without justification. Lerner and Tetlock say that people only push themselves to think critically and logically when they know in advance they will need to explain themselves to external parties who are well-informed, genuinely interested in the truth, and whose views they don't already know. Because those conditions rarely exist, they argue, most people are engaging in confirmatory thought most of the time.


Broadly speaking, fallibilism (from Medieval Latin: fallibilis, "liable to err") is the philosophical claim that no belief can have justification which guarantees the truth of the belief. However, not all fallibilists believe that fallibilism extends to all domains of knowledge.

Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi

Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (German: [jaˈkoːbi]; 25 January 1743 – 10 March 1819) was an influential German philosopher, literary figure, and socialite.

He is notable for popularizing nihilism, a term coined by Obereit in 1787, and promoting it as the prime fault of Enlightenment thought particularly in the philosophical systems of Baruch Spinoza, Immanuel Kant, Johann Fichte and Friedrich Schelling.Jacobi advocated Glaube (variously translated as faith or "belief") and revelation instead of speculative reason. In this sense, Jacobi can be seen to have anticipated present-day writers who criticize secular philosophy as relativistic and dangerous for religious faith.

In his time, he was also well-known among literary circles for his critique of the Sturm and Drang movement, and implicitly close associate Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and his visions of atomized individualism. His literary projects were devoted to the reconciliation of Enlightenment individualism with social obligation.

He was the younger brother of poet Johann Georg Jacobi.

Hierarchical epistemology

Hierarchical epistemology is a theory of knowledge which posits that beings have different access to reality depending on their ontological rank.

List of epistemologists

This is a list of epistemologists, that is, people who theorize about the nature of knowledge, belief formation and the nature of justification.


Neuroepistemology is an empirical approach to epistemology—the study of knowledge in a general, philosophical sense—which is informed by modern neuroscience, especially the study of the structure and operation of the brain involving neural networks and neuronal epistemology. Philosopher Patricia Churchland has written about the topic and, in her book Brain-Wise, characterised the problem as "how meat knows". Georg Northoff, in his Philosophy of the Brain, wrote that it "focuses on direct linkage between the brain on one hand and epistemic abilities and inabilities on the other."

Philosophical analysis

Philosophical analysis (from Greek: Φιλοσοφική ανάλυση) is the techniques typically used by philosophers in the analytic tradition that involve "breaking down" (i.e. analyzing) philosophical issues. Arguably the most prominent of these techniques is the analysis of concepts (known as conceptual analysis).

Practical reason

In philosophy, practical reason is the use of reason to decide how to act. It contrasts with theoretical reason, often called speculative reason, the use of reason to decide what to follow. For example, agents use practical reason to decide whether to build a telescope, but theoretical reason to decide which of two theories of light and optics is the best.

Privileged access

In the fields of epistemology and philosophy of mind, a person (the subject, the self) has privileged access to their own thoughts. This implies the subject has access to, and knows, their own thoughts (has self-knowledge) in such a way that others do not. Privileged access can be characterized in two ways:

Positive characterization: privileged access comes through introspection.

Negative characterization: knowledge derived from privileged access is not based upon evidences.

Problem of other minds

The problem of other minds is a philosophical problem traditionally stated as the following epistemological challenge raised by the skeptic: Given that I can only observe the behavior of others, how can I know that others have minds? It is a central issue of the philosophical idea known as solipsism: the notion that for any person only one's own mind is known to exist. Solipsism maintains that no matter how sophisticated someone's behavior is, behavior on its own does not guarantee the presence of mentality.


Skepticism (American English) or scepticism (British English, Australian English, and Canadian English) is generally any questioning attitude or doubt towards one or more items of putative knowledge or belief. It is often directed at domains, such as the supernatural, morality (moral skepticism), religion (skepticism about the existence of God), or knowledge (skepticism about the possibility of knowledge, or of certainty). Formally, skepticism as a topic occurs in the context of philosophy, particularly epistemology, although it can be applied to any topic such as politics, religion, and pseudoscience.

Philosophical skepticism comes in various forms. Radical forms of skepticism deny that knowledge or rational belief is possible and urge us to suspend judgment on many or all controversial matters. More moderate forms of skepticism claim only that nothing can be known with certainty, or that we can know little or nothing about the "big questions" in life, such as whether God exists or whether there is an afterlife. Religious skepticism is "doubt concerning basic religious principles (such as immortality, providence, and revelation)". Scientific skepticism concerns testing beliefs for reliability, by subjecting them to systematic investigation using the scientific method, to discover empirical evidence for them.

Speculation (disambiguation)

Speculation is the process of thinking about possibilities, or a particular conclusion arrived at from such thought. It may specifically refer to:

Speculation (Capital Markets), a financial activity taking place in global financial markets

Speculative fiction, an umbrella term for imaginative fiction genres, especially science fiction

Speculative reason, also called theoretical reason or pure reason

Continental philosophy, an academic term to categorize several schools of speculative thought

Speculation (card game), a gambling game popular around the turn of the 19th century


Synderesis or synteresis, in scholastic moral philosophy, is the natural capacity or disposition (habitus) of the practical reason to apprehend intuitively the universal first principles of human action.Reason is a single faculty, but is called differently according to the end that it assigns to its search for truth; when its goal is the mere consideration (contemplation) of truth, it is called speculative reason; when it considers truth in view of action (praxis), it is called practical reason. In both cases reason uses demonstration (syllogism) as its tool; it proceeds from the understanding of previously known truths (premises) to the statement of a proposition (conclusion) whose truth follows necessarily from the premises.

How does one know that those premises (and consequently their conclusion) are true? Because they are themselves conclusions of previous demonstrations. Although one could take back this process of demonstration of the truth of premises as far as we want, a regression ad infinitum would deprive the demonstrative chain of certitude. Consequently, it is necessary that the point of departure of human reasoning be some immediately knowable, i.e. self-evident, propositions called first principles, whose truth is not, indeed cannot be grasped through demonstration, but only by intuition (noûs).

The habit or disposition that allows the speculative reason to apprehend intuitively the principles that preside over its discursive reasoning is called "understanding of principles" (intellectus principiorum). The principles of "non contradiction", of "identity" and of "excluded middle", all of which are ultimately based on the notion of "being", which is the first that our reason apprehends absolutely, are all examples of those principles.

Similarly, the capacity or disposition that allows the practical reason to apprehend intuitively the principles or laws that preside over its discursive reasoning regarding human action is called synderesis. Just as "being" is the first notion apprehended absolutely, so also "good" is the first thing that is apprehended by the practical reason, since everything that acts does so for an end which possesses the quality of goodness. That is why the first principle or law of the practical reason is "good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided". Also the precepts of natural law can be considered object of synderesis insofar as all the things towards which the human being has a natural inclination are naturally apprehended by the intellect as good and therefore as objects to be pursued, and their opposites as evils to be avoided.

Synderesis is the capacity not only to apprehend the first principles, but also to judge every step of the practical discourse in the light of those principles. But, as an intellectual disposition concerned with knowledge of the first principles of action, synderesis provides only the universal premise of the practical syllogism. Every human action, however, is singular, contingent and takes place in particular circumstances. To complete the practical discourse and reach a conclusion regarding what has to be done hic et nunc [here and now] and what means are to be used, other capacities are necessary besides synderesis, and to actually effect the action other faculties are required besides reason. That is why the whole picture concerning human action includes powers, dispositions and acts such as conscience, desire, will, etc.

The origin of the notion of synderesis as presented here can be traced, on the one hand, to the Commentary on Ezechiel by Saint Jerome (A.D. 347–419), where syntéresin (συντήρησιν) is mentioned among the powers of the soul and is described as the spark of conscience (scintilla conscientiae), and, on the other, to the interpretation of Jerome's text given, in the 13th century, by Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas in the light of Aristotelian psychology and ethics. The word synderesis is by most scholars reckoned to be a corruption of the Greek word for shared knowledge or conscience, syneidêsis (συνείδησις), the corruption appearing in the medieval manuscripts of Jerome's Commentary.An alternative interpretation of synderesis was proposed by Bonaventure, who considered it as the natural inclination of the will towards moral good.

The term is found applied in psychiatric studies too, with particular reference to psychopathy.

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