Is This An Oxymoron?

Dictionary Definitions

Practical: Capable of being used or put into effect; useful.                                                       Theory: A set of principles on which the practice of an activity is based.

 Often during my career, I was told that I preached theories, not practical advice. I have justified my practice by responding with: “There is nothing more practical than a good theory.” Which leads to the title and subtitle above. I think the dictionary definitions help support my position. A good theory is one that presents a set of principles that can be put into effect and can be useful. That’s practical.

My Positive Uncertainty and The Process of Illumination decision making theories are also beliefs and principles. By definition a belief is a set of principles on which one’s behavior is based. Beliefs are theories that become behavior. Therefore, there is also nothing more practical than a good belief. The problem becomes: What is a good belief?  What is a good theory?

I have often written that some beliefs are better than others. Better beliefs are tentative and open-minded. They are not dogmatic or closed-minded. I believe the same would be true of a good theory. A good theory is a hypothesis, open for inspection and possible revision. Theories determine practice, beliefs become behavior; What could be more practical?

My decision making theories come from a set of beliefs and principles and lead to advice about the practice of making decisions. These beliefs and principles are capable of being put into effect, useful. Therefore, I consider them to be practical

Here is a sampling of my theoretical advice from the beliefs and principles of my decision making theory. Hopefully they are useful and practical.

  • Be focused and flexible about what you want.
  • Keep your mind’s eye on what you cannot see.
  • Beware of your dogma.
  • Use goals to guide you not govern you.
  • Accept uncertainty without being paralyzed by it.
  • Treat truths as hypotheses.
  • Become as capable of change as the environment.

Practical wisdom investigates what we can change                                                                       and aims at making good choices. Aristotle



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  1. Eugene Unger says:

    Tentative beliefs is an oxymoron . Tentative actions lead to ??? Tentative thoughts lead to tentative actions which lead to more tentative actions , which lead to tentative outcomes. I pray my next plane ride is not piloted by a tentative pilot. Sorry H , I love so much about you and rest assured my friendship is not tentative . G



  2. betsy collard says:

    YES!! One exception: my belief about is a strong and better belief that is NOT tentative or open-minded!

    See you tomorrow night!

    Betsy >

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