Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Facts and Theories

Aristotle, On the Generation of Animals 3.10 (760 b 30; tr. Arthur Platt):
Such appears to be the truth about the generation of bees, judging from theory and from what are believed to be the facts about them; the facts, however, have not yet been sufficiently grasped; if ever they are, then credit must be given rather to observations than to theories, and to theories only if what they affirm agrees with the observed facts.
ἐκ μὲν οὖν τοῦ λόγου τὰ περὶ τὴν γένεσιν τῶν μελιττῶν τοῦτον ἔχειν φαίνεται τὸν τρόπον καὶ ἐκ τῶν συμβαίνειν δοκούντων περὶ αὐτάς· οὐ μὴν εἴληπταί γε τὰ συμβαίνοντα ἱκανῶς, ἀλλ´ ἐάν ποτε ληφθῇ τότε τῇ αἰσθήσει μᾶλλον τῶν λόγων πιστευτέον, καὶ τοῖς λόγοις ἐὰν ὁμολογούμενα δεικνύωσι τοῖς φαινομένοις.
Sherlock Holmes, quoted by Arthur Conan Doyle in A Scandal in Bohemia:
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?