“Facts are needed to establish theories but theories are needed to make sense of facts.” Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.
The world surrounds us is made of facts. Yet, what scientists have been working to do for decades is to generalize those tremendous amounts of facts into rules and laws of this natural world, or in other words, theories. Whilst facts are pieces of information found to be true when observing the natural phenomenon, inter-connected theories provide reasons for the existence of facts. Simply put, the two share a symbiotic relationship, which they both have the ability to substantiate each other, while they cannot stand on its own. These two together created the knowledge that we human beings understand so far and eliminated the doubt that we cast while observing the dynamic world.
Sense perception has contributed to the creation of knowledge and eliminating the doubt in the area of natural sciences. Alchemy, once a popular theory practiced throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, was later diminished. One alchemy theory holds that alchemy is fundamentally spiritual: in the eyes of esoteric and hermetic practitioners, they believe that alchemy can “purify”, or transform, the lead to the gold as an analogy for personal transmutation, purification, and perfection. Another theory states that when lead, wood, fire, and gold are mixed up together, panacea, which is a cure to all diseases in the world, can be created. As the time pass by, these theories gradually faded out of public sights for a reason: they both lacked scientific support and is not observable in the natural world. Since the advocates of these theories never had the ability to produce a solid product that is perceivable by the others, their claims never actually transformed into a real knowledge that was widely accepted by the academic world. This example illustrated the important role the perceivable facts played in transforming a theory into a knowledge.
Although sometimes we need the perceivable evidence to substantiate a proposed theory, the theory itself should be able to make sense of the facts and allow people to better understand the fact itself. Psychology in the human science area of knowledge is a particularly good example to present this practice. In modern psychology, scientists and researcher conduct controlled experiment of human and other animals to better understand the cognitive process of the human. For example, Ivan Pavlov has observed that when the dogs see meat in front of them, the saliva production at their salivary glands increases dramatically. He later on generalized this natural phenomenon into the well-known classical conditioning theory, which is applicable not only to the dog itself but also to human as well as other animals. This simple yet fundamental law has laid the foundation for the behaviorist’s theories, which states that any kind of possible human behavior was enacted by a hidden stimulus. In this example, we have witnessed that the theories actually explain the natural facts and allows us to really understand the natural world around us. In another word, the theories can connect the natural facts of similar traits and grants human the power to evolve and predict future events.
Countless examples can act as the powerful proof of the symbiotic relationship between the human-established theories and natural facts: without proper fact to substantiate the established theories, they can only remain as claims that cannot be widely-recognized; without a well-defined theory to explain the facts in the natural world, human could hardly understand the reason behind the facts and are deprived of the ability to use knowledge to enhance their existing living standards. Only when they are interconnected with each other, we can finally be able to understand the world that we are inhabiting in.