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Monday, September 24, 2018

Theory and Practice

In theory, a theory is abstracted practice, and a practice is applied theory. But, in practice, that is not the case. Most intellectuals are unable to reconcile their theories with practice, which is why much of philosophy appears impractical.

In the book that I am currently reading, Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful, I found the following comment on theory and practice (Part 1, “Conclusion”):
It is, I own, not uncommon to be wrong in theory, and right in practice: and we are happy that it is so. Men often act right from their feelings, who afterwards reason but ill on them from principle; but as it is impossible to avoid an attempt at such reasoning, and equally impossible to prevent its having some influence on our practice, surely it is worth taking some pains to have it just, and founded on the basis of sure experience.
Burke is essentially suggesting that he does not really care about the Ivory Tower intellectual stuff. Like most conservatives, he will be happy if things work out in practice.

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