I was doing some definitional and etymological searches related to “theory,” and ran into the below from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Comb., as theory-making adj. and n., -building, -monger, -spinning; theory-bigoted, -mad, -ridden adjs.; theory-blind a., (a) blinded by a theory, so as to be unable to see the facts truly; (b) blind to a theory, i.e. unable to see or apprehend it (cf. colour-blind); theory-laden a., applied to a term, statement, etc., the use of which implies the acceptance of some theory; contrasted with theory-free, -neutral adjs.; theory-man (nonce-wd.), a theorist; theory-tailor, contemptuously for a shaper of theories.


Here’s the word in a context, in a nicely titled piece – “Quining Qualia” – by Dennett:

Consider “intrinsic” first. It is far from clear what an intrinsic property would be. Although the term has had a certain vogue in philosophy, and often seems to secure an important contrast, there has never been an accepted definition of the second-order property of intrinsicality. If even such a brilliant theory-monger as David Lewis can try and fail, by his own admission, to define the extrinsic/intrinsic distinction coherently, we can begin to wonder if the concept deserves our further attention after all. In fact Lewis (1983) begins his survey of versions of the distinction by listing as one option: “We could Quine the lot, give over the entire family as unintelligible and dispensable,” but he dismisses the suggestion immediately: “That would be absurd.” (p.197) In the end, however, his effort to salvage the accounts of Chisholm (1976) and Kim (1982) are stymied, and he conjectures that “if we still want to break in we had best try another window.” (p.200)

Click below the fold to see OED descriptions/quotations of the above combinations of theory and _____(-bigoted, -tailor, -monger etc).

1884 Q. Rev. Apr. 337 More *theory-bigoted than Mr.{emem}.

1892 W. S. LILLY Gt. Enigma 230 You cannot help recognising, unless you are *theory-blind,..the law of correlation. 1902 Q. Rev. Apr. 359 No one who is not theory-blind{em}a very common form of blindness.

1780 Mirror No. 107 {page}2 There is delightful in this art of *theory~building. 1964 Language XL. 225 Spelling its results have been incorporated into other experiments and theory-building.

1977 A. GIDDENS Stud. in Social & Polit. Theory i. 49 As Feigl says, most positivistically inclined authors today..recognize that observation statements cannot be entirely ‘*theory-free’.

1958 N. R. HANSON Patterns of Discovery i. 19 There is a which seeing is a ‘*theory-laden’ undertaking. Observation of x is shaped by prior knowledge of x. 1977 A. GIDDENS Stud. in Social & Polit. Theory 12 The theory-laden character of observation-statements in natural sciences entails that the meaning of scientific contexts is tied-in to the meaning of other terms in a theoretical network.

1850 E. A. POE in Sartain’s Union Mag. Oct. 233/1 He must be *theory-mad beyond redemption who, in spite of these differences, shall still persist in attempting to reconcile the obstinate oils and waters of Poetry and Truth.

1931 A. HUXLEY Music at Night 77 The *theory-making mind. 1964 I. L. HOROWITZ New Sociology 31 Problems of this kind can be every sphere of sociology from poll-taking to theory-making.

1727 DE FOE Syst. Magic I. i. (1840) 9 What our learned *theory-men insist to have been the causes of the deluge.

1905 Academy 4 Feb. 105/1 It is high time that protest be made..against the master’s works being made the prey of *theorymongers.

1968 J. J. C. SMART Betw. Sci. & Philos. iii. 80 Observation reports can not be couched in *theory-neutral language. 1977 A. GIDDENS Stud. in Social & Polit. Theory iii. 150 The ‘orthodox view’ has an answer which Habermas has apparently (although..not finally) rejected: correspondence to sensorily apprehended reality, grounded in the descriptions of a theory-neutral observation language.

1922 R. FRY Let. 6 Mar. (1972) II. 522, I don’t take it to heart when you say that my pictures are the utterly dismal performances of a *theory-ridden painter.

1904 WINDLE Prehist. Age Pref. 13 There has been a vast amount of *theory-spinning in connexion with the early epochs.

1876 MEREDITH Beauch. Career xxxvii, These men are *theory-tailors not politicians.

Written by teppo

January 23, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Posted in just theory, teppo

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