Re: What is a theory? LO3738

John Woods (
Thu, 16 Nov 1995 09:30:43 -0600 (CST)

Replying to LO3720 --

I just want to make a brief contribution to this discussion--you cannot
separate behavior and theory. All behavior from a human perspective is
based on some theory we each hold about the situations in which we find
ourselves. We behave in ways that are consistent with our theories.
Theory for me, then, is our sense of the order of things, statically and
dynamically, and that we use to guide our behavior. Theory and behavior
are two sides of the same coin. The most significant thing about a theory
is not the theory itself, but the act of creating the theory. In other
words, the processes by which we come to our rationalizations are far more
significant than the rationalizations themselves. In other words, theory
and behavior merge in a way that keeps us open and learning.

An aside: If we relate human personality to human behavior, then we can
say that any individual's personality is really that person's theory of
what a person is and how a person should behave.

Mike McMaster wrote:
>Willard, many are throwing out the baby with the bathwater in
>rejecting the need for theory. I think the bathwater is a grand
>statement with rigorous standards of proof. I think the baby is
>generative thinking that can be effectively tested and effectively
>challenged. We're left with "good ideas", feelings and whims - to
>characterise how it occurs so frequently.
>I do think that theory is for those who want to achieve different
>results. But isn't what you then go on to describe as an approach a
>theory in itself? Isn't it grounded in some other theories about
>people, our relationship to the world, and how we produce results?
>And I can test and challenge your theory by trying it, by comparing
>it to different approaches (say that make theory explicit or pursue
>it creatively) and I can reject it by thought without the need for
>action. This last is important because the field of possibility of
>theory is too large to explore in total - let alone the field of
>opinion, feeling and intuituion.
>Michael McMaster

John Woods