The concept of an exploratory essay is that you start without an end in mind. You don’t necessarily know how you feel about a subject or what you want to say about the subject, you allow the research and your own direction to determine the outcome. This is writing to learn rather than writing to prove what you know.
Purpose: The exploratory essay builds on the inquiry essay by having you look at and contribute to a range of arguments rather than just one at a time. Whereas the inquiry essay introduced you to a debate by looking at one argument a time, the exploratory essay asks you to widen your vision to the whole conversation.
1. The focus of an exploratory essay is a question, rather than a thesis.
2. The two main ways to compose an exploratory essay yield different effects: The “in-process” strategy produces immediacy, while a “retrospective” strategy produces more artistically designed essays.
3. Exploratory essays chronicle your research actions and the thinking that results from those actions; they address both content-oriented questions and rhetorical questions about possible responses to the problem under consideration.
4. Exploratory essays regularly consider the strengths and weaknesses of various different solutions to a perplexing problem.
5. Exploratory essays are often dialectical in either the Platonic or Hegelian sense of that term because they recreate the engagement of antithetical positions, sometimes resulting in a productive synthesis of contraries.