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It works in theory...

dylancatlow
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3/9/2013 2:55:36 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The phrase, "It works in theory but not in practice" only speaks to the invalidity of the mind the theory was thought up in. There is no objectively good theory that doesn't work in practice.

Per Ayn Rand:

[Consider the catch phrase:] "This may be good in theory, but it doesn"t work in practice." What is a theory? It is a set of abstract principles purporting to be either a correct description of reality or a set of guidelines for man"s actions. Correspondence to reality is the standard of value by which one estimates a theory. If a theory is inapplicable to reality, by what standard can it be estimated as "good"? If one were to accept that notion, it would mean: a. that the activity of man"s mind is unrelated to reality; b. that the purpose of thinking is neither to acquire knowledge nor to guide man"s actions. (The purpose of that catch phrase is to invalidate man"s conceptual faculty.)
bladerunner060
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3/9/2013 5:44:12 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 2:55:36 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
The phrase, "It works in theory but not in practice" only speaks to the invalidity of the mind the theory was thought up in. There is no objectively good theory that doesn't work in practice.

Per Ayn Rand:

[Consider the catch phrase:] "This may be good in theory, but it doesn"t work in practice." What is a theory? It is a set of abstract principles purporting to be either a correct description of reality or a set of guidelines for man"s actions. Correspondence to reality is the standard of value by which one estimates a theory. If a theory is inapplicable to reality, by what standard can it be estimated as "good"? If one were to accept that notion, it would mean: a. that the activity of man"s mind is unrelated to reality; b. that the purpose of thinking is neither to acquire knowledge nor to guide man"s actions. (The purpose of that catch phrase is to invalidate man"s conceptual faculty.)

My sarcastic response is to say:
So, big fan of communism, then?

My non-sarcastic response is to say:

The catch-phrase "works in theory but not in practice" is talking about the difference between idealized situations and real ones.

In theory, X should be able to lift Y. However, in practice, we never construct a pure X. Due to poor manufacturing and quality control we construct X', even though we call it X. Thus, if you asked me if X can lift Y, I'd say "Well, in theory, yes. That's what all the manuals say: can lift (Y+Z). But generally, no, one or the other of the parts of X will fail when you try to lift Y almost every time."

For political systems, "it works in theory, but not in practice" indicates that in the idealized situation described by the person suggesting the system, it clearly CAN work, but knowing what we know about human nature, it will likely fail. Like, for example, communism. It relies on certain suppositions about people (for an overly simplistic example: that they won't game the system in order to give less "from their ability" and get more for "their need"). Other systems have similar glaring flaws; generally, the more extreme the position, the more likely there is to have a glaring flaw. Of course, to the adherents of the system, the flaws are handwaved away in favor of their idealized world, where people behave like they want them to, rather than how they actually do.

I think it's best, when evaluating a political or ethical system, to approach it asking "how could this be twisted and abused". If your system cannot adequately prevent that twisting/abuse, then it may work "in theory", but it won't work "in practice".
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dylancatlow
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3/9/2013 5:49:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
"I think it's best, when evaluating a political or ethical system, to approach it asking "how could this be twisted and abused". If your system cannot adequately prevent that twisting/abuse, then it may work "in theory", but it won't work "in practice"."

Why wouldn't your "theory" include this inevitable 'twisting.' If your theory is to correspond to reality, it must include real-world happenings.
bladerunner060
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3/9/2013 5:51:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 5:49:41 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
"I think it's best, when evaluating a political or ethical system, to approach it asking "how could this be twisted and abused". If your system cannot adequately prevent that twisting/abuse, then it may work "in theory", but it won't work "in practice"."

Why wouldn't your "theory" include this inevitable 'twisting.' If your theory is to correspond to reality, it must include real-world happenings.

I'm not the one with the theory. You'd think that they would include this twisting, yet there are some quite famous theories that simply do not.
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dylancatlow
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3/9/2013 5:53:38 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 5:51:03 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 3/9/2013 5:49:41 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
"I think it's best, when evaluating a political or ethical system, to approach it asking "how could this be twisted and abused". If your system cannot adequately prevent that twisting/abuse, then it may work "in theory", but it won't work "in practice"."

Why wouldn't your "theory" include this inevitable 'twisting.' If your theory is to correspond to reality, it must include real-world happenings.

I'm not the one with the theory. You'd think that they would include this twisting, yet there are some quite famous theories that simply do not.

Saying "it works in theory but not practice" says nothing about the thing being discussed, only about the invalidity of the theory in question.
bossyburrito
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3/9/2013 5:55:37 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
If it is twisted and abused, it is NOT the same as the original theory.
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dylancatlow
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3/9/2013 5:56:33 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 5:55:37 PM, bossyburrito wrote:
If it is twisted and abused, it is NOT the same as the original theory.

If it's twisted and abused when following the theory, the theory doesn't take reality into account.
bladerunner060
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3/9/2013 6:15:10 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 5:56:33 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 3/9/2013 5:55:37 PM, bossyburrito wrote:
If it is twisted and abused, it is NOT the same as the original theory.

If it's twisted and abused when following the theory, the theory doesn't take reality into account.

Yup, I agree!

Which is the point of the statement "It works in theory, but not in practice".
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bladerunner060
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3/9/2013 6:25:11 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 5:53:38 PM, dylancatlow wrote:

Saying "it works in theory but not practice" says nothing about the thing being discussed, only about the invalidity of the theory in question.

I'm grammatically confused by this; "the theory in question" is "the thing being discussed".
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sadolite
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3/9/2013 7:29:32 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 2:55:36 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
The phrase, "It works in theory but not in practice" only speaks to the invalidity of the mind the theory was thought up in. There is no objectively good theory that doesn't work in practice.

Per Ayn Rand:

[Consider the catch phrase:] "This may be good in theory, but it doesn"t work in practice." What is a theory? It is a set of abstract principles purporting to be either a correct description of reality or a set of guidelines for man"s actions. Correspondence to reality is the standard of value by which one estimates a theory. If a theory is inapplicable to reality, by what standard can it be estimated as "good"? If one were to accept that notion, it would mean: a. that the activity of man"s mind is unrelated to reality; b. that the purpose of thinking is neither to acquire knowledge nor to guide man"s actions. (The purpose of that catch phrase is to invalidate man"s conceptual faculty.)

Robbing Peter to pay Paul works in theory every time (Socialism/communism) Fails every time in practice. Everything fails because somone always screws it up or attempts to control human nature and ambition are used and that fails every time also.
It's not your views that divide us, it's what you think my views should be that divides us.

If you think I will give up my rights and forsake social etiquette to make you "FEEL" better you are sadly mistaken

If liberal democrats would just stop shooting people gun violence would drop by 90%
Rothrand_McMolyneux
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3/10/2013 4:05:39 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 5:56:33 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 3/9/2013 5:55:37 PM, bossyburrito wrote:
If it is twisted and abused, it is NOT the same as the original theory.

If it's twisted and abused when following the theory, the theory doesn't take reality into account.

I totally agree with the premise of your argument. The only problem with Rand's argument was that she didn't take a good hard look at how minarchism had failed spectacularly in America. Limited Government breeds wealth, wealth is then extracted by the monopoly of force (government), and then the leviathan grows exponentially. True Capitalism only works in an Anarchic situation, this is the logical conclusion I wish she could have came to regarding politics.

You were correct when you asserted that Communism didn't even work in theory... It didn't, as proved by Ludwig Von Mises.

http://www.cato.org...
Rothrand_McMolyneux
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3/10/2013 4:17:26 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 6:15:10 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 3/9/2013 5:56:33 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 3/9/2013 5:55:37 PM, bossyburrito wrote:
If it is twisted and abused, it is NOT the same as the original theory.

If it's twisted and abused when following the theory, the theory doesn't take reality into account.

Yup, I agree!

Which is the point of the statement "It works in theory, but not in practice".

The point is that statement, "It works in theory, but not in practice," is inaccurate. It cannot work in theory, if it can be disproved by reason. That is the point of a theory; to make an observation, that is supported by sound reasoning. As soon as it is debunked by sufficient contradictory reason, then it is no longer a sound theory.
Lizard
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3/10/2013 4:20:23 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
if something only "works in theory" it means it works as long as we ignore every reason why it doesn't work, which is a dumb thing to say. I get annoyed when people say this.
bladerunner060
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3/10/2013 4:22:54 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Folks, it's an idiom. Picking it apart from a literal standpoint is ridiculous.

Yes, if it doesn't work "in practice", then the theory must be unsound. The phrase is just used to indicate that while the theory "sounds good", it's using a false and idealized view of things.
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Kinesis
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3/10/2013 5:17:42 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees in theory, but in practice it is impossible to construct a perfect triangle. Therefore geometry is wrong. Oh noes.
Rothrand_McMolyneux
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3/10/2013 9:03:55 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/10/2013 4:22:54 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
Folks, it's an idiom. Picking it apart from a literal standpoint is ridiculous.

Yes, if it doesn't work "in practice", then the theory must be unsound. The phrase is just used to indicate that while the theory "sounds good", it's using a false and idealized view of things.

For the sake of clarity, it does not seem truthful to reality.

Since we are all in a Philosophy Forum I take it we all strive to pursue truth, therefore using this phrase is treasonous to the cause, and to justify it is an ex post facto rationalization.

"Admitting one's ignorance is the beginning of wisdom."
- Socrates
bladerunner060
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3/10/2013 10:16:02 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/10/2013 9:03:55 PM, Rothrand_McMolyneux wrote:
At 3/10/2013 4:22:54 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
Folks, it's an idiom. Picking it apart from a literal standpoint is ridiculous.

Yes, if it doesn't work "in practice", then the theory must be unsound. The phrase is just used to indicate that while the theory "sounds good", it's using a false and idealized view of things.

For the sake of clarity, it does not seem truthful to reality.

Since we are all in a Philosophy Forum I take it we all strive to pursue truth, therefore using this phrase is treasonous to the cause, and to justify it is an ex post facto rationalization.

"Admitting one's ignorance is the beginning of wisdom."
- Socrates

Or it's an idiom with a specific contextual meaning.
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bladerunner060
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3/10/2013 10:28:48 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
And, for the record, attempting to use loaded language in an appeal to emotion ("treasonous to the cause", really?) is FAR WORSE than a discussion of the relative merits of an idiom that one might take issue with.

Language is always imprecise. It is always about conveying meaning; what's important is the meaning, and that it be conveyed appropriately. While I understand that quite a few on here do not "get" this particular idiom, most people do , and, I believe that at least a few of these folks understand the meaning, they just personally dont' like the language. I'm quite a stickler for language myself, so I see their argument. However, it's an idiom, and it's one thing to try to say "well, I don't like that phrasing" and quite another to try to claim the phrasing is somehow wrong, because you've chosen to interpret it in a way you know it is not intended to be interpreted.
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RyuuKyuzo
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3/10/2013 10:45:44 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/10/2013 5:17:42 PM, Kinesis wrote:
The angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees in theory, but in practice it is impossible to construct a perfect triangle. Therefore geometry is wrong. Oh noes.

That's not exactly an equivalent analogy. Sure, I probably can't draw a perfect triangle, but if communism functioned as well as I can draw triangles, nobody would say communism doesn't work.
If you're reading this, you're awesome and you should feel awesome.
bladerunner060
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3/10/2013 10:54:07 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/10/2013 10:45:44 PM, RyuuKyuzo wrote:
At 3/10/2013 5:17:42 PM, Kinesis wrote:
The angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees in theory, but in practice it is impossible to construct a perfect triangle. Therefore geometry is wrong. Oh noes.

That's not exactly an equivalent analogy. Sure, I probably can't draw a perfect triangle, but if communism functioned as well as I can draw triangles, nobody would say communism doesn't work.

But, fundamentally, we're talking about the difference between the idealized and the reality.
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Rothrand_McMolyneux
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3/11/2013 3:30:56 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/10/2013 10:28:48 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
And, for the record, attempting to use loaded language in an appeal to emotion ("treasonous to the cause", really?) is FAR WORSE than a discussion of the relative merits of an idiom that one might take issue with.

This thread was in response to a previous thread where you said "Capitalism works in theory, but no in reality." This is imperfect language, and it is something that people believe is an actual argument - when it is in fact contradictory. If we are to strive for truth, then we should abide by Aristotle's Law of Non-Contradiction. If some won't, then they are not striving for the most basic of truths.

Language is always imprecise. It is always about conveying meaning; what's important is the meaning, and that it be conveyed appropriately.

If language is imprecise, how do you covey what is important appropriately?

While I understand that quite a few on here do not "get" this particular idiom, most people do , and, I believe that at least a few of these folks understand the meaning, they just personally dont' like the language. I'm quite a stickler for language myself, so I see their argument. However, it's an idiom, and it's one thing to try to say "well, I don't like that phrasing" and quite another to try to claim the phrasing is somehow wrong, because you've chosen to interpret it in a way you know it is not intended to be interpreted.

I chose to interpret it literally, as if I was from another country, or I did not understand it previously. Upon doing this I realized it was oxymoronic - for this reason I don't use idioms in debates. I find them all to be 'treasonous to the cause (empiricism + logic)', they do not accurately depict reality. If we are to advance our understanding of reality, then colloquial phrases and idioms are about as imperfect as one can get.
bladerunner060
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3/11/2013 4:01:34 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/11/2013 3:30:56 AM, Rothrand_McMolyneux wrote:


This thread was in response to a previous thread where you said "Capitalism works in theory, but no in reality." This is imperfect language, and it is something that people believe is an actual argument - when it is in fact contradictory. If we are to strive for truth, then we should abide by Aristotle's Law of Non-Contradiction. If some won't, then they are not striving for the most basic of truths.


All language is imperfect.

Language is always imprecise. It is always about conveying meaning; what's important is the meaning, and that it be conveyed appropriately.

If language is imprecise, how do you covey what is important appropriately?

All language IS to some degree imprecise. Pretending otherwise is just silly.


While I understand that quite a few on here do not "get" this particular idiom, most people do , and, I believe that at least a few of these folks understand the meaning, they just personally dont' like the language. I'm quite a stickler for language myself, so I see their argument. However, it's an idiom, and it's one thing to try to say "well, I don't like that phrasing" and quite another to try to claim the phrasing is somehow wrong, because you've chosen to interpret it in a way you know it is not intended to be interpreted.

I chose to interpret it literally,

Ah. So you know how it's meant, and what the saying means. You just choose to be pedantic about the literal meaning of words which are meant to be taken as part of a phrase? That seems more "treasonous to the cause" of discovering truth, frankly.

If someone doesn't understand the idiom, it can be explained in other ways. But to convey that specific sentiment, the shortest and most direct method is, usually, that specific phrase.
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bladerunner060
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3/11/2013 4:08:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
And just to be very very clear, the phrase is not an "oxymoron".

The problem is that the usage is different than the most common use of the words in question, not that the usage is wrong. It is in keeping with the definitions of the words (definitions from Merriam-Webster):

Theory

6b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances "often used in the phrase in theory <in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all>

Practice:
to do something customarily

Thus, the theory works "with an ideal or hypothetical set of facts", but not "customarily".
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malcolmxy
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3/12/2013 11:38:06 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 2:55:36 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
The phrase, "It works in theory but not in practice" only speaks to the invalidity of the mind the theory was thought up in. There is no objectively good theory that doesn't work in practice.

Per Ayn Rand:

[Consider the catch phrase:] "This may be good in theory, but it doesn"t work in practice." What is a theory? It is a set of abstract principles purporting to be either a correct description of reality or a set of guidelines for man"s actions. Correspondence to reality is the standard of value by which one estimates a theory. If a theory is inapplicable to reality, by what standard can it be estimated as "good"? If one were to accept that notion, it would mean: a. that the activity of man"s mind is unrelated to reality; b. that the purpose of thinking is neither to acquire knowledge nor to guide man"s actions. (The purpose of that catch phrase is to invalidate man"s conceptual faculty.)

Ironic, then, that Rand's own philosophical ideas work neither in theory, nor practice, isn't it?
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Rothrand_McMolyneux
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3/12/2013 3:54:57 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/11/2013 4:01:34 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 3/11/2013 3:30:56 AM, Rothrand_McMolyneux wrote:

All language is imperfect.
Even this bit? This sweeping statement disregards the objective nature of words, and man's ability to string them together in a truthful manor.

Language is always imprecise. It is always about conveying meaning; what's important is the meaning, and that it be conveyed appropriately.

To convey the meaning, it must be explicit, not implicit. This means that using phrases with implicit notions would be contrary to the purpose of conveying meaning.

All language IS to some degree imprecise. Pretending otherwise is just silly.
Language itself is very objective - words have set meanings. People's use is where the imprecision lies - not to say that people cannot use words precisely.

Ah. So you know how it's meant, and what the saying means. You just choose to be pedantic about the literal meaning of words which are meant to be taken as part of a phrase? That seems more "treasonous to the cause" of discovering truth, frankly.

I chose to interpret the words as they stood. If a statement has no explicit truth, but instead is contradictory, then it has no value in my pursuit, or any other who seeks truth.

If someone doesn't understand the idiom, it can be explained in other ways. But to convey that specific sentiment, the shortest and most direct method is, usually, that specific phrase.

The shortest way is the best way? This idiom may be the shortest, but it contains no truth value.
Rothrand_McMolyneux
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3/12/2013 4:11:23 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/11/2013 4:08:53 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
And just to be very very clear, the phrase is not an "oxymoron".

The problem is that the usage is different than the most common use of the words in question, not that the usage is wrong. It is in keeping with the definitions of the words (definitions from Merriam-Webster):

Theory

6b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances "often used in the phrase in theory <in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all>

You disregard the first entry? Theory: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another.

If a theory is disproved by future facts, then the theory is debunked and no longer held as "working in theory."

Practice: to do something customarily

You also twisted their definition of 'Practice' to suit your ends. Not really using language appropriately to convey a meaning? Instead kind of working into my assertion that people are the ones who are imprecise with language.

First entry.
Practice: carry out, apply.

Thus, the theory works "with an ideal or hypothetical set of facts", but not "customarily".

In order for a theory to be made, there must be a facts, hypothesis, testing, conclusions, over and over again. If a broad conclusion can be drawn, then there is a theory, if facts contradict that theory, then it is not sound. Therefore, it cannot work in theory, if it doesn't work in practice.
bladerunner060
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3/12/2013 4:15:13 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/12/2013 3:54:57 PM, Rothrand_McMolyneux wrote:
Even this bit? This sweeping statement disregards the objective nature of words, and man's ability to string them together in a truthful manor.

No, it doesn't. Words are NOT objective; they have objective definitions, sure, but those are used subjectively. Always. Connotations matter.

To convey the meaning, it must be explicit, not implicit. This means that using phrases with implicit notions would be contrary to the purpose of conveying meaning.

Implicit notions are connotations. And there are always connotations and context to language.

Language itself is very objective - words have set meanings.

That change ALL THE TIME as usage changes.

People's use is where the imprecision lies - not to say that people cannot use words precisely.

Look, here's an example:

The color debate. Is your perception of blue the same as my perception of blue? Can't be sure. We use the same word, which helps us understand each other, but we cannot be CERTAIN that what I perceive as "blue" is identical to what you perceive as "blue".

I chose to interpret the words as they stood. If a statement has no explicit truth, but instead is contradictory, then it has no value in my pursuit, or any other who seeks truth.

And yet, I showed how YOU DID NOT DO THAT. You read what you chose to. I gave you the pertinent definitions. You CHOSE not to use the PERFECTLY VALID DEFINITIONS. That is not a problem with the words.

The shortest way is the best way? This idiom may be the shortest, but it contains no truth value.

It does contain truth value. Where do you think truth value lies? It lies in the meaning, not the words themselves, which is a moot point since definitionally, the words do mean what they're being used to mean. Perhaps you missed where I quoted the dicitonary, the source of the "set meanings" you mentioned earlier?

The problem is not that you're reading it as someone who was "from another country, or [who] did not understand it previously." If you had, you'd know that it wasn't "oxymoronic". What you did was use your connotations of the word "theory" to interpret it into a specific definition that you THINK is the "literal" definition. It's not: words have more than one definition, and in this case, it's a phrase using the word in a manner that's perhaps less common, but no less valid. And the worst part is that you "chose" to interpret it this way, even though you know the way it's intended to be interpreted! You ignore the actual truth value to try to make a pedantic point that fails because you are wrong.
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bladerunner060
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3/12/2013 4:18:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Apparently we were typing at the same time.

At 3/12/2013 4:11:23 PM, Rothrand_McMolyneux wrote:
You disregard the first entry? Theory: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another.

The first meaning of a word is the ONLY meaning of that word? That's ridiculous.


If a theory is disproved by future facts, then the theory is debunked and no longer held as "working in theory."

Only if you use the first definition instead of the one I posted.


Practice: to do something customarily

You also twisted their definition of 'Practice' to suit your ends. Not really using language appropriately to convey a meaning? Instead kind of working into my assertion that people are the ones who are imprecise with language.

First entry.
Practice: carry out, apply.

Thus, the theory works "with an ideal or hypothetical set of facts", but not "customarily".

In order for a theory to be made, there must be a facts, hypothesis, testing, conclusions, over and over again. If a broad conclusion can be drawn, then there is a theory, if facts contradict that theory, then it is not sound. Therefore, it cannot work in theory, if it doesn't work in practice.

I can work in theory if one uses an "ideal or hypothetical set of facts", while at the same time not working with real people.

The idea that a word can ONLY HAVE ONE DEFINITION is absurd. You're grasping at straws.
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