Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: June 22, 2021, 5:56 a.m. Humanist 35.99 - theory

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 99.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2021-06-21 18:13:51+00:00
        From: James Rovira <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.97: theory

I should have added my own provisional definition of theory -- a theory is
an occult (in the sense of hidden or unobservable) explanation for
observable phenomena. So in literary "theory," any interpretive paradigm
that relies on, say, psychoanalysis, or any form of depth psychology, is a
form of literary "theory." Explanations of genre conventions, metaphor,
simile, allusions, etc. wouldn't be theory, because those all remain on the
level of observable phenomena. A reception history itself is not theory,
but an explanation of that reception in terms of historical or economic
forces probably is. Evolutionary "theory" explains the observable phenomena
provided by the fossil record; laws are fixed patterns of observable
behavior, but explanations of the laws might be theoretical.

Jim R

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