Speculative Challenge

Our Mission and Vision

The objective of the Institute of Speculative Philosophy (ISP) is thus neither revision nor nostalgia, but vision in its most elemental and authentic sense. In pursuit of this objective the Institute will:

  • be a centre in which teaching and example will be seen as the fruit not the means of scholarship;
  • be a magnet for young scholars from all countries who want to explore and learn how to integrate the speculative traditions of East and West;
  • promote advanced reflection into the foundations of Eastern and Western culture with a view to discovering and formulating the principles of their philosophical unity;
  • publish the findings of its scholars regularly in a yearbook and a monograph series;
  • provide for a periodic International Congress on key practical‑ethical issues of global and urgent significance.

The ISP will seek in pursuing its objective to be a philosophical voice of international hope which can show by example how an educational model can effect practical change. The Institute will, therefore, not be an amalgam of itinerant scholars; nor will it seek to be yet another university. Rather it will provide an environment where students from around the world, who have already learned the technical skills (languages, science, historical learning, and the practice of the arts) which a modern university best offers, can participate in the use of those skills through dialogue, teaching, and publishing. Moreover, these are pursued in a setting where the apprenticeship of the ancient schools is maintained together with the freedom of expression which has been the hallmark of the modern university.

The objective of the ISP is thus long‑term. Its intention is to preserve tradition by creating it anew. This is a task for many generations – a perennial task, once of leisure, now of survival.

Role of the Institute

The ISP seeks to play a necessary role in the contemporary world by providing a speculative framework for the modern university. The cardinal assumption of the modern university is that as knowledge increases it becomes more specialized, diversified, and broken up. While the ideal is theoretically an explanation based on the fewest principles, practice has become the opposite of this ideal. Thus the modern university has become incapable of integrative knowing except at the lowest levels. For the paradox of the modern university is that only beginning courses are general. The broad view is construed as merely a survey rather than as the highest result of knowing. This situation mirrors our modern crisis. It is the vision of science and technology as endless acquisition, of a knowledge forever bigger by virtue of being in its diversity forever smaller. The solution is not to turn back the clock but to recognize that the strength of the modern university is also its weakness, and to use that strength to overcome the weakness.

The Institute is the speculative solution to this crisis. This is the Institute’s role; to extend the depth of specialization to a ground in the fundamental principles of its source. The analysis of specialization is also the synthesis of the harmony that underlies all specialization. Thus the task of the Institute scholar will be the most difficult and demanding, yet necessary: to have an empirical grasp of the fundamental principles of reality which in turn make various forms of empiricism possible.

To play this role the Institute ought to attract students from around the world with specialized knowledge as well as the desire to go beyond it. The Institute will be a place where East and West do more than meet and exchange ideas. It will be a place where the power of thought will seek to break through to a dialogue of integration, to a vision of extension into the depths of existence such that a practical life can be found which will sustain rather than destroy the earth. For the mandate of thought is not the simplicity and tolerance of interdisciplinary studies where separate disciplines try to preserve themselves while leisurely interacting. The task of the ISP is more demanding. It is to see the disciplines as subordinate to the whole as well as irreducible to it. Praiseworthy as tolerance and dialogue are, their intention must not be mere exchange but integration of nuance, harmony of thought and deed.