Quotes about Theory

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It is theory that decides what can be observed.

Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections between our starting points and its rich environment. But the point from which we started out still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles on our adventurous way up.
A theory is the more impressive the greater is the simplicity of its premises, the more different are the kinds of things it relates and the more extended the range of its applicability.
Let us work without theorizing, 'Tis the only way to make life endurable.
The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of our profession.
One must credit an hypothesis with all that has had to be discovered in order to demolish it.
Socrates thought and so do I that the wisest theory about the gods is no theory at all.
One great lesson that we can learn from its systematic absence in the work of the grand theorists is that every self-conscious thinker must at all times be aware of--and hence be able to control--the levels of abstraction on which he is working. The capacity to shuttle between levels of abstraction, with ease and with clarity, is a signal mark of the imaginative and systematic thinker.
A conception not reducible to the small change of daily experience is like a currency not exchangeable for articles of consumption; it is not a symbol, but a fraud.
The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline baggage.
Good tests kill flawed theories; we remain alive to guess again.
Theoretical principles must sometimes give way for the sake of practical advantages.
The Theory of Groups is a branch of mathematics in which one does something to something and then compares the result with the result obtained from doing the same thing to something else, or something else to the same thing.
Some theories are good for nothing except to be argued about.
Delight at having understood a very abstract and obscure system leads most people to believe in the truth of what it demonstrates.
Everything that explains the world has in fact explained a world that does not exist, a world in which men are at the center of the human enterprise and women are at the margin helping them. Such a world does not exist -- never has.
Every theory is a self-fulfilling prophecy that orders experience into the framework it provides.
A theory is no more like a fact than a photograph is like a person.
A young man is a theory, an old man is a fact.
Even for practical purposes theory generally turns out the most important thing in the end.
Unaware of the absurdity of it, we introduce our own petty household rules into the economy of the universe for which the life of generations, peoples, of entire planets, has no importance in relation to the general development.
Theories that go counter to the facts of human nature are foredoomed.
The wise man regulates his conduct by the theories both of religion and science. But he regards these theories not as statements of ultimate fact but as art-forms.
No theory is good unless it permits, not rest, but the greatest work. No theory is good except on condition that one use it to go on beyond.
In order to shake a hypothesis, it is sometimes not necessary to do anything more than push it as far as it will go.
To insure the adoration of a theorem for any length of time, faith is not enough, a police force is needed as well.
The world can doubtless never be well known by theory: practice is absolutely necessary; but surely it is of great use to a young man, before he sets out for that country, full of mazes, windings, and turnings, to have at least a general map of it, made by some experienced traveler.
It is not enough for theory to describe and analyze, it must itself be an event in the universe it describes. In order to do this theory must partake of and become the acceleration of this logic. It must tear itself from all referents and take pride only in the future. Theory must operate on time at the cost of a deliberate distortion of present reality.
Theories are always very thin and insubstantial, experience only is tangible.
There never comes a point where a theory can be said to be true. The most that one can claim for any theory is that it has shared the successes of all its rivals and that it has passed at least one test which they have failed.
There is nothing so practical as a good theory.

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