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Discussit There Is Nothing


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  • 1. %,EI?KII1J& Read on ................................... There is Nothing as Practical as a Good Theory - Aarathi Shenoy THE SKY: Is a vast expanse of blue so real none could deny its “existence”. Yet, in reality, it is nothing but illusion. THE HORIZON: Is always in sight. Yet, the closer to it one gets, the farther away it recedes. YOUR IMAGE IN THE MIRROR: Is real as you are. Yet, are “you” that image? THEORY: Has been defined in many ways. Most definitions include one or more of the following parameters: An account or explanation of a phenomenon, a way of making sense of things. Clearly defined terms. Hypotheses on how we might change things or of what things influence others. 1 s ‘reality’ the sky that ‘theory’ monetary economics to operate a ‘principle’. Theory is the essence of cannot reach? Is theory the bank account or have a doctorate any science: a science draws its horizon that leads intellect on? in financial theory to be a great content and defines its scope in its Are ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ stockbroker. Grandma’s remedies theories. Numerous examples of reflections of one another? cure the common cold faster than theories may be cited: Einstein’s Talking of reality, which is more any theory of medicine might help Theory of Relativity, Darwin’s real – ‘theory’ or ‘practice’? Is prescribe; customs, values and Theory of Evolution, but when we theory of any practical relevance at practices we grow up with talk of theory in the context of all? Or is it mere intellectual contribute a great deal to our theory and practice, it is mostly babble? Does ‘practice’ shape wellbeing. Stories abound of social sciences theory we refer to. ‘theory’ or is it the other way people who have made a success Some examples of theory in round? Questions that have huge of their lives with no formal economics are the Heckscher- chicken-and-egg kind of education whatsoever in their Ohlin Theory of International philosophical implications respective fields. But at the same Trade, Rostow’s Theory of attached to them (such as the time, one has to acknowledge that Economic Growth and the debate about perception versus theories of economics or medicine Arbitrage Pricing Theory in the reality), but that nevertheless relate are not complete junk and that the domain of financial economics. just as much to everyday realities word ‘intellectual’ still commands To be more precise, theory is a - “mankind in the ordinary some respect in the dictionary. body of knowledge. Theory is a business of life”. Making allowances for context, statement of fact, an explanation of I don’t have to study Home ‘theory’ has been used a relationship between a cause and Science to be a good wife; I don’t synonymously with ‘law’, an effect. A theory is normally have to master the theories of ‘hypothesis’, ‘model’ or based on a set of assumptions
  • 2. %,EI?KII1J& Read on ................................... final exam score if you have his we assume we know why things CAT score ready. are happening, and depending on It’s hard to see a world without what culture we come from, we’re relating to some sort of taught to challenge or accept new generalisations, concepts, theories, ideas; to use prior ideas to confirm values or frames of reference. We or refute new ones. rely on beliefs and assumptions to A generation of thinkers and make sense of our experiences. We rebellious youngsters frowns upon classify people and things as the domain of theory regarding it “good” and “bad”, interesting, the playground of academic (which in most of economic theory dynamic, worthless, magnificent. wizards. Theory is viewed as a is summed up in the phrase – “all Where do these qualifications collection of symbols and abstract, other things being equal” or ceteris come from? Aren’t they human incomprehensible logic (ironic as it paribus) and has an independent “inventions” and aren’t they in may sound) with little or no and one or more dependent some way based on some prior relevance whatsoever to real-life variables. theory of what is ‘good’, ‘bad’, or happenings. At the other extreme, Theories in physical sciences are ‘interesting’? We see some things policymakers in economies in precise and there is no doubt that as significant, others as mundane, various stages of evolution seem to their application enhances human When Theory and Practice Converge welfare. This is because The most evident argument for theory being the most practical of relationships in physical sciences practices is perhaps that while “theory” can and has been defined in are deterministic. When a theory numerous ways, it’s hard to do the same with “practice”. What declares that variable x is ‘practice’ exactly are we referring to when we talk about theory being determined by variable y, in other or not being practical? Is being practical about survival? Is it about words, that x is a function of y or having the means to survive, i.e., the material aspect? Adaptation to x=f (y), we can rest content that an environment, a culture, a set of rules? knowing the value of y would A. Theory Simplifies: A society or a nation is made up of thousands completely specify the value of x of individuals, each with a different set of beliefs and ideas and the at least until this has been best that any law or policy can do is to be the most representative it completely refuted and someone can be. Theory can be very helpful here as a base for policy, because has enough evidence to prove that theory is a generalisation that has been proved to be representative. x = f(z). Relationships in social Policy based on sound theoretical foundations helps to hold a society sciences are, however, more of a together and prevents it from breaking apart. Theory also provides an non-deterministic or probabilistic intellectual standard by which to define and measure. kind in the sense that they are less B. Theory Represents a Critical Thought Process that Signifies precise. An underlying equation of Progress: ‘Theory’ evokes a ‘Western’ methodology of thought based a deterministic kind is assumed to on critical thinking that began during the Middle Ages. Rene Descartes’ exist and an ‘error term’ is path-breaking philosophy, “I think and therefore, I am” can be generally added on. For example, attributed to much of today’s research and development. An individual if you are trying to establish a or society incapable of thinking for itself cannot dream of development. relationship between CAT scores Theory is wisdom. It is an explanation that was thought out by some and management final exam individual who cared enough to think beyond the selfishness of his scores, you could say that to some self, to survey and experiment with his ideas, test their validity, quantify extent a good score on the CAT is them, bring them out as a precise and clear statement. Over time, a an indication of a good final exam theory has perhaps been read and criticised, withstood refutations, score. However, no matter for any accepted by a group of people, passed on, and still continues to be patterns in past data, you could wisdom as much as basis for progress. never compute a student’s exact
  • 3. %,EI?KII1J& Read on ................................... When Theory and Practice Diverge “Practice” if it has to be defined may have to do with customary ways of operation or behavior, or knowledge of how something is customarily done. Thus you see that practice is also knowledge that keeps developing with time, may we say, knowledge that cannot be quantified? A. Appropriate Pre-Conditions for Application of Theory may be Absent: The existence of a body of knowledge signifies neither its just comprehension nor the presence of the perfect set of preconditions for its application. Assumptions made in theory may not hold in real life, entire frameworks may be different from conditions where the theory was created. Application of ideas taught in ‘Western’ style may be difficult if not impossible in ‘developing’ societies. There is a wide divergence between the circumstances of application that a theory intended and those that actually are in “developing” economies. For instance, the infrastructure and enforcement mechanisms such as credible banking systems and efficient judiciary necessary for implementation of economic theory are simply absent in many developing countries. The reliance on economic theory as a guide to problems may thus make implementation of policies much more difficult than it seems at face value. Economic history, especially that of the last few decades abounds with tales of theories misunderstood or faultily applied. B. A “Scientific” Way of Thinking May not be THE Best in All Circumstances: There are two justifications for this argument. Theory is almost always a quantification of fact and sometimes this unsuppressed process of quantification may lead to results quite contrary to what was intended. You cannot put a number on everything that takes place in the universe. There is a part of knowledge (including customs, traditions and ways of life) that may not lend itself to easy bending into hypotheses. For example, alternative systems of medicine and the practice of yoga are gaining increasing importance in otherwise more scientifically advanced societies. have a flair for indiscriminate practice. How else would amateurs application of theory as the magic- with a gift of the gab do better than wand solution to all sorts of marketing professionals in the problems from building bridges to same FMCG business? Haven’t we producing grains. all come across great writers born Getting down to the practical to the most humble homes? Or aspect, an engineer would never be exemplary actors who have never as good till he actually gets down entered the portals of an acting to working with his tools. Any school? The value of either cannot scientific theory gets consolidated be underestimated. Enough reason into actuality with practice. The why B-schools around the world evidence of a good theory is in its prefer those with a few years of experience.