THE OBJECTION TO THEORY

Be Practical

There is nothing more practical than a good theory. Kurt Lewin

The frequent objection to theory is: “It is just a theory”, as the creationists say about evolution. This is also what some say about my writing. Or, “H B is being too theoretical.” The depreciation of theory is very common in everyday life. My appreciation of theory is very strong. Two definitions explain why. Theory: systematically organized knowledge applicable in a wide variety of circumstances; a belief that guides action or assists comprehension or judgment. Synonyms include: idea, belief, opinion, hypothesis, concept, and presumption. (I am aware of the different interpretations of the term theory in science and in everyday life.)

Theory is provisional; so is science. Both are always open to revision in light of new evidence. Theory isn’t the truth, or a fact, or absolute certainty. My admiration of positive uncertainty probably influences my appreciation of theory. Theory is another way to say uncertain.

I agree that my writing usually includes some theory. Saying I am being too theoretical, of course, is an opinion — or a theory. I can’t define how much theory is too much, too little, or just right. What I can describe, and have described, is how much certainty is too much. I believe it is not wise to be too sure. Being certain is being closed-minded; it is not hypothesizing, being theoretical or being provisional. The reason a good theory is practical is that it involves a hypothesis; it leads to questions, investigation, and study, all of which are practical behaviors.

To justify (or maybe rationalize) my “theoretical approach”, I will point out that my topic over the years of writing has been investigating the workings of the brain/mind/human consciousness. It is agreed that our knowledge of these mental process of making decisions is still in the stage of theory. We don’t yet totally know how the brain/mind/consciousness creates theories, ideas, beliefs, and judgments that lead to our making decisions.

Some of my decision making strategies, (e.g. be focused and flexible; keep your mind’s eye on what you don’t see; think without the box) are theoretical because I don’t have empirical scientific evidence to support them. However I believe they are practical because they guide action or assist comprehension or judgment. They are useful (a synonym of practical) in the mental process of deciding.

When theory is all we have about how human consciousness creates our decisions and behavior, all I can offer is theoretical, practical advice.

 

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3 Responses to THE OBJECTION TO THEORY

  1. Eugene Unger says:

    Of course this is just my theory, but your writing is very good. However, is it ever good to be certain? Is life theoretical ? Is it always positive to be uncertain ? Is confusion similar to uncertainty? Positive confusion ?? Where is the safe course ? Trust, go, adjust, go. >>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Gene

    >

  2. Robert Clarke says:

    HB, This is great! Clearly, the big problems are “certainty” and “truth” and “law”. Bob

  3. Robert Leon says:

    Partner.

        My concern about theory is that it has limited value if there is no apparent application. The theory of evolution led to thousands and thousands of valuable applications.  We have discussed before that I feel your blogs would be more valuable with concrete applications of your theories.  More to follow.

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