The circular relationship of experiment and theory


  • Theory from experiment: it involves pattern finding (…) it is the making of a concept from many distinct perceptions (…) it formalises the significance and necessity of pattern (…) theories are patterns with widespread credence and accepted as accounting for a part of our experience (…)  we simplify to make our continuum of our experience de-finite (…) if we did not simplify we wouldn’t be able to recognise nor generalise (..) this allows us to make predictions as a means of extending the range of our observations
  • Theory from theory: it is the examination of concepts to clarify these concepts further (…) science depends not only on theory based on collecting and organising of empirical evidence but also on theory based on the consequences of that evidence (…) theory on theory is us acting self-referentially by using the devices of simplification and pattern finding (…) our understandings help us develop our understandings but also restrict them (…) when we find contradictions we modify or reject this understanding; this cyclical process is a design  process (…) the continuous modification and the inclusion of more and more in a coherent whole (…) one form of theory in theory is criticism



Ranulph Glanville, Researching Design and Designing Research. In Design Issues Vol. 15, No. 2, Design Research (Summer, 1999), pp. 80-91

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