What is speculative philosophy? What might be good or bad about it?
What is speculative philosophy?
Speculative philosophy" on Wikipedia redirects to "continental philosophy". This makes sense:
The philosopher Charlie Broad distinguishes between “critical” and “speculative” philosophy. Critical philosophy is analysis of the basic concepts of ordinary life and of science, roughly in the tradition of Moore and Russell. The speculative attempt to arrive at an overall conception of the nature of the universe and the position of human beings. Speculative philosophy, is a form of theorizing that goes beyond verifiable observation; specifically, a philosophical approach informed by the impulse to construct a grand narrative of a worldview that encompasses the whole of reality. In its aggressive use of the systematic principle, geared to a unification of human experience, speculative philosophy aspires to a comprehensive understanding and explanation of the structural interrelations of the culture spheres of science, morality, art, and religion.
Analytic philosophers tend largely, though not exclusively, to be English-speaking academics whose writings are directed, on the whole, to other English-speaking philosophers. They are the intellectual heirs of Russell, Moore, and Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein, in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, contended, though obliquely, that the structure of language reveals the structure of the world; every meaningful sentence is analyzable into atomic constituents that designate the finegrained constituents of reality. Analytic philosophy is, perhaps, an implicit respect for argument and clarity, an evolving though informal agreement as to what problems are and are not tractable, and a conviction that philosophy is in some sense continuous with science.
Continental philosophy is the gradually changing spectrum of philosophical views that in the twentieth century developed in Continental Europe and that are notably different from the various forms of analytic philosophy that during the same period flourished in the Anglo-American world: phenomenology, existentialism, Heidegger’s philosophy, structuralism, deconstruction, Frankfurt School, Habermas’s theory of communicative action.
Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy.
What are its pros and cons of speculative philosophy?
I think we can interpret speculative or continental philosophy in contrast to analytic philosophy and that the best approach is to consider some famous direct debates between famous analytic and continental philosophers:
Reception of Heidegger's philosophy by Analytic and Anglo-American philosophy
Gilbert Ryle on Heidegger’s Being and Time
"The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language" Rudolf Carnap
The first recorded announcement of the analytic-continental divide in the twentieth century.
1958 Royaumont encounter between British and French philosophers
Protests against Derrida’s honorary degree in Cambridge
How rational can a polemic across the analytic-continental 'divide' be?
The genuinely continental and original voices in continental field, in so far as any remain, strike me to be as obscure as ever. The debate remains easier among analytic philosophers than between analytic and continental philosophers.
What is analytic philosophy? Hans-Johann Glock
If we have to choose only one word to represent the view of analytic philosophers to continental philosophy I think is "unintelligible" or "obscure". One frequent criticism of analytic philosophy is that it is a highly technical mode of thought, restricting itself to criticism of minute details of language, and has abandoned the great narrative of a worldview. A perennial criticism of analytic philosophy is that it fails to engage with our deepest and most basic human concerns, and has thereby rendered itself irrelevant to the larger culture.
Continental philosophy is generally philosophy of the European continent (ie excluding les Anglais) - most famously German or French philosophy. Its style is generally informed by literature and religion. For example Kierkegaard, Derrida, Hegel or Kant.
Its in contra-distinction to the Anglo-American tradition which is generally informed by mathematics/logic and science (but there is a tacit understanding that all science boils down to physics, and all physics to mathematics and then to logic).
The Anglo-American Analytic tradition pride themselves on their pragmatism, their amour fou of mathematics and thus of rigor. Their excesses are arid and instill rigor-mortis in the obstinate reader.
The continental tradition prides itself on its flights of poetic fancies, its speculative daring. Their excesses tend towards wind-baggery which is what Schopenhauer accused Hegel of peddling.
Continental Philosophy is not quite the real thing when the one doing the talking or writing is an Anglo-American philosopher or aspires to be one either secretly and furtively, or openly and brazenly.
Of course there can be rigor in speculation, and speculation in rigor.
And of course, one should take these characterisations with a broad pinch of salt as they are broad generalisations.
I have no idea what Speculative Philosophy is. Kant does say:
Hume "interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investigation in the field of speculative philosophy quite a new direction"
So perhaps it can be identified entirely with continental thought.