Cognitive pluralism

Philosophy has both a critical and a speculative mode. In its critical mode, philosophy examines the assumptions and the reasoning of some body of discourse, often with an eye towards showing that its adherents have claimed more than they have justified, or that they are employing assumptions that are problematic or mutually inconsistent. You might say that critical philosophy “puts the brakes on” other intellectual projects. In its speculative mode, philosophy does just the opposite: it runs ahead of the evidence, speculating about how some combination of ideas might be developed in ways that are interesting and fruitful. Most of what goes on in philosophy journals is done in the critical mode. Most of what the public thinks of as “philosophy”, and the things that we refer to as someone’s philosophy—Plato’s philosophy, Aristotle’s philosophy—is done in the speculative mode.
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